Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dealing with Difficulty

Each month we provide an opportunity for families from our church to come together to do an activity based on a Bible story and related to a particular topic.  I'm more of a facilitator than anything else; the families are the ones who "lead" the activity for themselves.  This month, our topic was dealing with difficulty.

This is an apt topic for any of us--at one point or another, we are bound to go through a challenging time, whether related to death or illness or divorce, to name a few.  What's important for us all to know (and for us as parents and grandparents to teach our kids) is that Jesus never promises we won't have trouble in the world.  However, he does promise that he is with us always, and that is a promise we can depend on.
For this activity, you will need: 
A Bible (kids' Bible is best
A candle 
A cup/goblet

Here's what to do:
Gather around a table or sit in a circle on the floor.  Put a candle in the middle.

Light the candle and say “We begin in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” and make the cross while saying: God be in my head, heart, left and right

Practice silence...have one person read each line and the others echo it.
--Be still and know that I am God 
--Be still and know that I am
--Be still and know
--Be still 

Pray the following prayer: God, thank you that you are always with us, in good times and in bad.  Help us to trust you when we are sad, lonely, confused, or afraid.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Read the story of Lazarus from a Children’s Bible (John 11:1-45)
--Why were Mary and Martha sad?
--How did Jesus feel when he found out his friend Lazarus had died?
--What did Mary and Martha wish Jesus had done?
--Does this story have a happy ending or a sad ending?

This story has a happy ending.  But sometimes we don’t see a happy ending—at least not at first.  In those times, we need to remember that Jesus is with us and loves us, no matter what.  We can always tell God whatever we are healing and when we ask God for help, God will help us.

Name a specific situation or difficulty your family is experiencing/has experienced.
--How might faith in God give you hope, even on the worst of days?
--What helps you feel better after a bad day or when you get bad news?  Listening to music?  Going for a walk?  Reading a book?  Talking to someone you love?
--How can your family help you are sad or when something bad happens?

Fill your Blessing Cup with water or juice.  The blessing cup is an ancient tradition, predating the practice of Christian communion by hundreds of years.  Recently, it has been reclaimed by many religious groups as a way of celebrating God’s action in our lives and the importance of others to our well-being.[1]  Pass the Blessing Cup around, giving each person a chance to say these words: I trust in you, God, to see me through this time.

Pray together: Dear God, thank you for promising that you will never leave me.  Give us strength when we feel weak.  Give us hope when we feel hopeless.  Give us people we can talk to when we don’t know what to do.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

[1] For Everything a Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life by the Nilsen Family

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