Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas 2018-2019 - by Melissa Bills and Anne Edison-Albright and illustrated by Claudine Gevry is a colorful deck of cards that is full of rituals, prayers and reflections. Endlessly flexible for busy schedules, you can create a new after-meal ritual, use them as decorations, or carry them on the go. Explore the entire season from Advent to Christmas through Epiphany. These make a great gift for families in your congregation!
No Stress, No Fuss Christmas Pageant - It's crunch time and you need an interacive, intergenerational, theologically sound pageant and/or worship service. Here it is in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2, from Presbyterian Pastor Theresa Cho, a second generation Korean-American whose blog includes several artfilled worship resources.
The Christmas Story Composition: Advent, Christmas and the Day of Epiphany Devotions for Kids and Their Families - edited by Lutheran Pastor Heather Roth Johnson this FREE resource (available in Spanish and English) makes the entire Christmas season even more spiritually accessible to families. Get your free download in English here.
Get your free download in Spanish here.
A Mary Carol - A Dickenesque story beginning with the Annunciation written by Katherine Willis Pershey. Example of script here.
Living the Questions Christmas Pageants:
"'In That Starry Night' the music is catchy, and the story has a great message."-Heather
"We loved your children's Christmas musical, Matt and Lucy's Version Birth. We felt good about what we were teaching our children, and even some of us grown-ups learned a thing or two!"-Carol
Reverse Advent - (Read more about it and its tie-in to Epiphany just below.)
Advent Art from A Sanctified Art - Through worship films, liturgy, coloring posters, banner art, graphic icons, and devotional resources.
Love Life, Live Advent - provides a simple prayer activity for children and families to do together, every day of December until Christmas Day. Brightly illustrated throughout, it is designed to heighten a family’s anticipation of Christmas and to enrich everyone’s understanding of this season of waiting and preparation.
GenOn Ministries includes intergenerational curriculum. Check out sample resources here, including an Intergenerational Advent, Christmas and Epiphany resource introducing us to not only Biblical characters but saints appropriate for the season.
Experience Architect - Dr. Dawn Rundman lends a few practical examples of how parents play the role of "Experience Architect" for their children around Christmas.
Advent Coloring Prayer Beads from LEAD. FREE print-ready resources for worship & reflection.
Using texts from the Revised Common Lectionary, the resources include:
Flame:Creative Kids - 25 Creative Advent activities
The Christmas Program from Spirit and Truth Publishing has all the organizational tools and good theology to make for an easy way of sharing the Good News this time of year.
Wait - A simple children's book using repetition to invite readers to be mindful, using the example of a rushed parent and a child who wants to stop and look at everything. Only uses two words in the whole book to emphasis the dominating pictures, "Hurry!" and "Wait," so could be responsive during a children's message. Written and illustrated by Antoinetter Portis
If You Want to See A Whale - words by Julie Fogliano and pictures by Erin E. Stead This children's book is great for Advent, setting up the need for keeping focus while waiting.
Miracle on 133rd Street - Author Sonia Manzano (of Sesame Street) captures the angst of the holidays and the miracle of community coming together. Great for an intergenerational Advent event. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman.
A Christmas Tree for Pyn - This children's book invites the reader into the joy and grief of a daughter and her father at Christmas time without her mom. Written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea. Would work well for a "Blue Christmas" or intergenerational event, as well as read at home. Although long for a children's message it has good repetition which might make that possible.
Eight Candles and a Tree - by Simone Bloom Nathan writes with adjectives and adverbs to capture young children's attention around two friends sharing their religious traditions for Hannakuh and Christmas.
Sunday AFTER Christmas
Refuge - by Anne Booth and Sam Usher. Tells a simple story of Christmas from the donkey's perspective. It emphasizes the kindness of strangers and follows the story all the way to Egypt, so an excellent book for a children's message the first or second Sunday after Christmas.
The Birth of Jesus: A Christmas Pop-up Book - by Agostino Traini (Author). Each page of the story comes to life with charming illustrations and intricate pop-ups, from the angel’s visit to Mary to the moment she lays baby Jesus in the manger.
That Baby in the Manger - by Anne E. Neuberger and Chloe E. Pitkoff. Catholic in nature this book reminds us of seeing Jesus in all skin colors.
The Newborn Child - by Jackie Morris uses enaging verbage and illustrations to depict Mary's becoming the mother of Jesus.
A Child is Born - by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. This lyrical celebration of Christmas offers a fresh perspective on the Holy Family and the birth of Christ.
Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Useable for a Children's sermon. Great for young kids because of the noises associated with the "silent" night.
Prairie Christmas by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. A great take on the nativity story, rounding out who might have been there with a Southern imagination.
The Donkey's Christmas Song - by Nancy Tarfuri. With lots of animal noises, rhyming and simple words this makes for a good children's sermon.
'Twas the Evening of Christmas - by Glenys Nellist (Author), Elena Selivanova (Illustrator). It echoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements' poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on Jesus.
This is the Stable - by Cynthia Cotten (Author), Delana Bettoli (Illustrator). Wondrous things are happening in this humble little stable. The animals are gathering round. Shepherds and wise men and angels are coming from afar. All of them are flocking to see the Christ child, born this night in Bethlehem.
Chalking the Door - Do it at church and at home as a yearlong connection between faith active in both places.
Star Words - "Last year on Epiphany, we drew out Star Words as a congregation. Reaching into a bowl of more than 300 possibilities, we pulled out words like “fun”, “encouraging”, “solemn”, “inviting”, “tactful”, and many others...."
Reverse Advent (Epiphany Mission Blessing) As we struggle with how a little baby changed the world, the incarnation of Christmas and the manifestation of Jesus understood at Epiphany helps tie Jesus' age and life's work together. In addition the connection with Jesus' family as refugees connects with the actions and thoughts of this project which are very timely for our world today.
Three Wise Women by Mary Hoffman with Pictures by Lynne Russell. Uses Holy Imagination and brings a global perspective on what we bring to and receive from Jesus.
The Crafting Freedom Website provides educators with a user-friendly resource on the African-American experience during the era of slavery. Here you'll find ready-to-use lesson plans, videos, PDF slide shows, teacher tools, and student handouts that bridge the gap between the expanding scholarship on the 19th-century black experience and the need for this history to be more widely understood.
National Geographic Kids - Offers succint history and photographs to explain Martin Luther King Jr. (National Holiday January 16)
Augsburg Fortress also has a one pager (bulletin insert) with info about Rev. Dr. King.
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by author and illustrator Ashley Bryan. With beautiful pictures and words, based on an actual document of a slaver owner, this book takes us into the lives of each slave and includes what might have been their dreams beyond servitude.
The Listeners by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Mike Benny. Age appropriate for elementary youth this book talks about young slaves listening at their owner's windows. Helps to explain slavery without being too graphic. Good connections around listening.
Vividly expressed in Faith Ringgold’s sumptuous colors and patterns, We Came to America is an ode to every American who came before us, and a tribute to each child who will carry its proud message of diversity into our nation’s future. *A good repetitive and short read for children's sermons!
Before She Was Harriet - by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome. Wonderfully simple retelling of the bravery of Harriet Tubman.
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World - Easily read short poems, perhaps for a children's sermon each week, enlighten the congregation with info about more than just MLK JR. Written by Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
The Delany Sisters Reach High - This true story of two sisters growing up in Jim Crow south tells of faith and life intertwined over the course of their one hundred years! Written by Amy Hill Hearth and illustrated by Tim Ladwig
The Other Side - This is an accessible book about the Jim Crow south for young children. The book ends with, " 'Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down,' Annie said. And I nodded. 'Yeah,' I said. 'Someday.'" Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrations by E.B. Lewis
Ash Wednesday - An at-home Ash Wednesday fire can be done around a small fire pit in any backyard, on a roof top, on the beach, or on your deck. The activity can be large-scale with a community; or small-scale around a group of candles or indoor fireplace.
What is Lent in a Bag?
Great for sending from the congregation out to the "domestic church" by distributing small bags (cloth, paper, or ziplock bags) with symbols of the season which assists individuals and families in practicing Lent at home. In addition to the items, include instructions, and reflections (on purple paper of course) to go with each item. Included here are many different takes on this.
Lenten coloring calendars from Sybil MacBeth and Praying in Color.
Does your church have a healing/prayer station during Lent? If so consider serving at the station as a family. Even young kids can make the sign of the cross on someone's forehead. They may even be comfortable saying the prayer too!
The Book of Comic Prayer: Using Art and Humor to Transform Youth Ministry by Heather J. Annis - Consider this Lenten exercise from her book about making a Lenten comic and asking..."If you were a superhero, what power would you give up for Lent? Plus other GREAT questions.
Free Family Lenten devotional by Arial Williams.
LEAD’s five contemplative liturgies and accompanying coloring pages for use during Lent. (LEAD, Living Every Day as a Disciple, learn more at www.waytolead.org)
Illustrated Children's Ministry has Lenten Coloring Posters which have the promise of bringing all ages together for perhaps a new Lenten discipline for families or congregations.
Online Courses on Racial Justice
ChurchNext, in partnership with Trinity Institute, is offering free online series on racial justice, for all who desire to journey deeper into faith with a five week series that aligns well with Lent.
Wow! Talk about daily Lenten inspiration. Best used with middle school age and up. Great for parents and youth leaders alike.
Flame: Creative Kids - Family Lent Activities
Videosforyoursoul.com - Daily videos for the 40 days of Lent.
Make Room: A Child's Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary and illustrated by Ann Boyajian. Simple language focusing on welcoming space for God with activities like cleaning a room, making bread and inviting a neighbor for supper as acts of justice and kindness.
Don't Forget to Pray - a free Family Lenten devotional by Heather Roth Johnson
Maundy Thursday Stripping the Domestic Church table - Stripping of the altar (removing all ornaments, linens, candles, plants, flowers, etc.) is an ancient custom of the Church. Congregations mark the way Christ’s life was stripped from him by stripping the altar of all signs of life and beauty during a special service. This almost-bare worship space reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through His resurrection.
Maundy Thursday with Children - The early evening service has three stations: a long, common table for Eucharist and our shared meal; an area for drawing our footprints on a large cloth; and an area for foot-washing.
Prayer Stations - See all of Presbyterian Pastor Theresa Cho's years of Lenten prayer stations here.
Holy Moly - Four Bible Stories for Holy Week and Easter
Easter Sunrise at Home - An Easter sunrise breakfast is just the sort of tradition that families can make their own.
How to reinvent the Easter Egg Hunt and make it missional - Easter egg hunts can reflect the values and gifts of your congregation, rather than being all about shoving one another out of the way to get more candy. The Rev. Rebecca Nelson Edwards describes how her church moved from hoarding chocolate to sharing the mission of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, using eggs filled with ‘outreach dollars’ to share. Of course, candy was available for everyone, too!
The birthday of the church. God's diverse people speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit as flame and breath...what more do you need for inspiration to get creative with worship for all ages?!
The Day When God Made Church: A Child’s First Book about Pentecost by Rebekah McLeod Hutto, Illustrated by Stephanie Haig. Draws readers of all ages into the Acts 2 story of Pentecost. Haig’s illustrations give deep meaning to Hutto’s child-like words that tell how the disciples wait…wait…WAIT in the Upper Room.
The Sanctified Art website has creative designs, Bible video and bulletin art for Pentecost. Connect with these four amazing artists and get a free download fo a Pentecost scripture in action three minute video.
The congregation of Faith Presbyterian blowing "Holy Spirit bubbles" on Pentecost.
Rick Steve's Luther and the Reformation - Thank you to Rick Steves for generously giving all members of the ELCA access to “Luther and the Reformation." Be sure to download the discussion questions, logos, photos to make this as engaging an intergenerational event for your ministry and households.
Be sure to see what the ELCA is curating from around the country for Reformation 500 resources.
The Big Class: What Would Luther Do Today? with Presideing Bishop Elizabeth Eaton through ChurchNext could be used with confirmation, HS and adults.
Stir Us to Deeper Discipleship
Luther’s Info Drive-thru provides a variety of large and small group exercises and activities to help us strengthen our understanding about what it means to be a Lutheran.
Reformation Roots Video Clips from Select Learning.
My Word! The Bible for Everyone
Includes intergenerational Rally day resources around Luther, a skit, children's hymnody and more!
Ever-Reforming: A Reformation 500 Cross-Generational Study" A Collaborative Ministry of the North Carolina Synod edited by Mindy Makant and Eric Childers
An intergenerational resource that covers Luther in the Home, Worship, Social Justice and more!
Reformation Rotation Curriculum from the Montana Synod.
Re: Formation from the Rocky Mountain Synod.
Conversation Celebration: Hope in Action from the Central States Synod
"This study guide celebrates the United Church of Christ’s Reformation heritage by lifting up some of the Reformation’s central claims. There is beauty here. And ugliness too. Inasmuch as ideas can thrill, these ideas are thrilling. Brace yourself."--from the Foreword
500 is a four-session, small-group study for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Check it out a preview and order here.
Honoring Our Neighbor's Faith - A book with each chapter explaining the basics of 32 different faiths.
Luther Playmobil - Get creative with this fun toy! How might you use it with children, youth or at an intergenerational event?
From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World by James Rumford describes the making of paper and the printing press which coincided with the Reformation. Come at the Reformation sideways by discussing the impact of "social media" back in the day and connect it with the ways we can share the Gospel today.
ChurchNext - Learn about the background and run up to the most significant religious realignment in Christian history in the shadow if its central character: Martin Luther. Alec Ryrie helps us understand the person and context of the Reformation in an accessible and deeply informed manner.
In-Character Storytelling by D.Min Al Staggs covers Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others. Traveling to churches and events he can share through DVD or in person a depiction of these reformers to capture your attention.
Show the Luther movie.
Sundays and Seasons with ideas for remembering the Reformation during Lent,
Colaborate with Lutheran Catechism material and the Sourcebook!
Luther: The Musical
Luther: The Graphic Novel
Luther: Coloring Books
Luther: Cross+Gen Table Talks
Luther: The Soundtrack
Hildegard's Gift - Hildegard’s gift did not come on her birthday or under the tree on Christmas morning, but “it arrived when no one was looking, not even Hildegard.” Hildegard’s Gift is an expressive and imaginative telling of the life of St. Hildegard of Bingen as she discovers her own beautiful God-given voice and shares it with the world through art, music, service, and writing. Written by Megan Hoyt Illustrated by Dave Hill
8 Activities for All Saints Day - On November 1st the church remembers the saints of God – all faithful servants and believers. The day honors saints who have died and of all Christian persons. All Hallows’ Eve, October 31st (from which our Halloween comes); All Saints’ Day; and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd – the Day of the Faithful Departed), are connected and are often celebrated together.
Here are some ways that you can celebrate All Saints Day at home or in church from the Building Faith website.