Back to School Blessing

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As kids head back to school in the fall (or late-summer, as it happens to be in Indiana), it’s important for congregations to be attentive to the spiritual needs of children and their families as well as our hard working educators. A “Back to School Blessing” as part of worship at the start of the school year can offer encouragement to the excited, comfort to the anxious, and gratitude to the tireless. There are a lot of variations on this growing tradition and at Epworth UMC we incorporated a backpack blessing and small gift for teachers into a moment of prayer during Sunday worship.

 

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Two weeks before, we encouraged everyone to bring their school bags to church for a blessing. By blessing school bags, we offered students and educators a tangible sign of God’s presence with them every day. We gave everyone a Blessing Tag (United Methodist Specific Tag) to attach to their bag. The tags are simple to make and hold up very well. I printed the tags directly onto Avery Business Cards. Then, I used Scotch Laminating Luggage Tag Pouches and my trusty laminator to create one of a kind blessing tags.

 

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We wanted to give each educator something special to convey our gratitude for their tireless work with students. Because every person who serves in education – teachers, administrators, cafeteria, janitors, bus drivers, etc. – is vital, I picked something everyone can use: Scissors! Combined with a cute tag that reads “Educators are a Cut Above the Rest,” the scissors were an inexpensive yet meaningful gesture to thank educators. I printed circle-shaped tags onto white card stock and used a scalloped edge circle paper punch to create a festive look and punched a hole at the top to string onto the scissors. I bought the scissors, along with clear treat bags and colorful ribbon for packaging, at the Dollar Tree. Another approach is to use the same Avery business cards for tags, punch a hole, and attach them to the scissors with ribbon.

We had a great Sunday celebrating the back to school season and I hope you do too!

Peace.

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Live Lent

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Lent is a special season in the life of the church that helps us prepare for the celebration of Easter Sunday. Understanding and living the practices of Lent can be difficult for many adults, let alone children. Live Lent is a 4-part curriculum designed to help engage children to live lent by learning more about traditional practices and may be downloaded as a PDF.

In four sessions, which may be offered as a half day Lenten Retreat or over the course of four weeks in Sunday school or at a mid-week program, children will discover the rich traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and burying the alleluia, as well as the scope of practicing Lent. Each lesson includes a hands on activity to further engage children in multi-sensory learning.

Cheers!

Live Lent Lesson Plans

Live Lent Almsgiving Template

Proper 20C

Day: Proper 20C

Lectionary Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Scripture Focus: 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Object: None

How many of you have ever prayed for others? That’s great! But I wonder how many of us remember to pray for someone who is authority? That means someone who is in charge, like your principal or police officers or the President of the United States. I know that sometimes I forget to pray for these people.

Luckily, our Bible passage for today reminds us to pray for them. So, I want us to do just that right now.  Fold your hands and close your eyes and repeat each part after me:

Dear God, we give you thanks for all the people who are in authority. We pray that they will make good choices and follow Jesus Christ. And we pray that you will help keep them safe. We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Trinity C

Day: Trinity Sunday C

Lectionary Passage: John 16:12-15

Scripture Focus: John 16:12-15

Object: Can String Phone

Preparation: To make a can string phone you need two clean tin cans (or paper cups), a piece of string, and a nail and hammer. First, punch a small hole in the bottom of each can using the nail and hammer. Each hole should be just large enough to that the string will go through. Then, from the outside, insert one end of the sting into the hole in one can. Tie several knots so the string will not slip out. Repeat with the other end of the string using the second can. The trick to the can string phone is to be sure the string is tight, then when a person talks into the can the vibrations are sent along the string to the other can.

When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to play house and we used a can string phone to talk. Like this one. The trick to a can string phone is to make sure the string is really tight and straight so that you can talk to the other person. It really works! The only drawback is that you have to be pretty close together for the can string phone to work. But, what happens when someone is really far away?

That’s something that worried Jesus’ friends when he told them that he was going to go back to Heaven to be the Father. But then Jesus told them some really good news: He was going to send the Holy Spirit. And part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to pass on messages from Jesus. So, even though Jesus is Heaven, we can still learn about following him through the Holy Spirit. That means, you don’t have to have a can string phone or a cell phone or any other gadget to talk with Jesus because we already have the best thing: the Holy Spirit.

Let’s pray: God, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit who continues to teach us and help us learn the way of Jesus. Amen.

Advent 2B

Day: Advent 2B

Lectionary Passage: 2 Peter 3:8-15

Scripture Focus: 2 Peter 3:14

Object: Bowl of water, tablespoon of black pepper, and liquid dish soap

Preparation: For this lesson you will conduct a simple science experiment the power of soap. Fill a large, clear bowl with water. Prepare the black pepper and liquid dish soap.

Good morning! Today we are going to conduct a science experiment to learn about the power of being clean. I brought a bowl of water with me and we’re going to add some pepper (sprinkle black pepper onto the water). The pepper is everywhere. Now, watch what happens when I add just a squirt of soap (add a drop of liquid dish soap to the middle of the bowl of water). Whoa! The pepper instantly scurries away from the soap! Now wherever the soap hit, the water is clean and spotless!

That reminds me of our Bible passage. It talks about being spotless and pure, which is kind of like saying we need to be clean. Of course, the Bible isn’t talking about being spotless on the outside. It’s talking about being spotless on the inside. That means we can’t use soap to help us. We’ve got to use something much, much stronger…. we need to pray! Prayer makes spots caused from sin scurry away. Sin is that bad stuff that we do from time to time, like not listening to our parents, or lying, or being mean to others. Just like that black pepper covered the water, sin can cover everything. But when we pray to God to say we are sorry for sin, then we are made clean and spotless. Prayer is soap for our souls to keep us spotless and pure.

Let’s pray: Thank you God for giving us the power to pray because we want to be spotless and pure every day. Amen.

Pentecost 17A

Day: Pentecost 17

Lectionary Passage: Philippians 4:1-9

Scripture Focus: Philippians 4:6

Object: “Prayer Hand”

Preparation: For today’s lesson, you will teach the kids the “Prayer Hand.” It may be helpful print out copies of the “Prayer Hand” for each child to take home. Click Here for Prayer Hand

Our Bible story for today tells us that we should pray to God about everything. So I thought we should learn a cool way to pray using our hand. Everyone put your hand in the air and we are going to learn how each finger reminds us to pray for something special.

First, the thumb (point to your thumb) is closet to our heart so it reminds us to pray for those closest to us, like our family and friends.

Our index finger (point to your index finger) is also called our pointer finger and it reminds us to pray for those who teach. Like your teachers at school, Sunday school teachers, and pastors.

Our middle finger (point to your middle finger) stands taller than the rest and reminds us to pray for leaders, like the President and the Governor because they need God’s guidance to make important decisions.

Our ring finger (point to your ring finger) is weak and cannot stand alone well so it reminds us to pray for the sick. You can even name people you know who aren’t feeling well.

And last is our pinkie finger (point to your pinkie finger)! It’s the smallest one of all and reminds us to pray for ourselves.

Now when you go home you can all pray using your fingers and remember to ask God for everything!

Let’s pray: Thank you God for always listening to us in prayer and letting us ask you for all things. Amen.