Thursday, November 14, 2013

Peace, be still!

November is certainly the time we focus on feelings of gratitude and thankfulness.  However, with the Christmas season right around the corner, this month can also be an anxiety-provoking one for a variety of reasons: tight budgets, gatherings with extended family, trying to fit everything on the calendar, figuring out your own family traditions in the midst of the ones both you and your spouse had growing up.

It's no secret that kids pick up on it when we are stressed or worried.  They can sense when things are not quite right.  They also sometimes have worries of their own, even if they can't put them into words: situations among friends, getting a spot on the team, having someone to sit with at lunch.  So as parents and grandparents, one thing we can do is help our kids talk about their worries and learn that no matter what concerns they have, God is bigger than those worries and will help them through whatever situation they face. 

With this in mind, we recently had a family activity at church to equip parents and kids to talk about worry together and see what the Bible says about worrying.  I've included our activity plan below.  It was inspired by “Worry Knot” written by Chisty Olson.  You can find that activity and more like it at:

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Needed Supplies
Piece of rope (1-2 yards long)

Begin by lighting the candle.  As you light it, way the words below while making the sign of the cross: "God be in my head, God be in my heart, God be on my left, God be on my right."

Practice silence by repeating the words below from Psalm 46:10. 
Be still and know that I am God.Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

Open the Bible and read Mark 4:35-41, the story of Jesus calming the sea.
What made the disciples worried/afraid?
What did they do to get help?
What did Jesus do to make things okay again? 

Say: Just like the disciples worried about the storm, there are things we worry about too.  Write each person's name down the side of a piece of paper.  Use these questions to fill in each person's worst worry.
What is your worst worry?
How do you know when you are worried?
Who do you tell when you are worried?

Tie one knot in your rope for each worry listed on your piece of paper.  Go back to the story and talk about how Jesus could calm the wind and the water down.  Discuss what you think it means that Jesus can speak to the weather and calm it down.

Read Matthew 6:25-34
How does your response to worry or a change make it better or worse?
How do you think Jesus would want to respond to your worry/change?
Where in your life do you hear Jesus saying, "Peace, be still!"?
What person or activity helps you calm down in the midst of chaos?
Where in the lives of friends and family does Jesus call you to say, "Peace, be still!"? 

Say this prayer: Worry can make us sick, God.  Help us to read your Word and learn how to handle our worries better.  Keep us praying as we face the scary feeling of worry.  Amen. 

Bless one another by marking the sign of the cross on each others' foreheads and saying: "Be still with Jesus!" 

Take it one step further by putting your rope on your meal table to help everyone remember not to worry.  In a week or so, revisit your list of worries on the rope.  Try untying a knot together each time a worry ends.



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