talk.pray.do: Easter Sunday

By | April 20, 2014

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Holy Week begins and ends with celebration. From the quiet of death, Jesus powerfully awakened the righteous men and women who were with Him awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. His tomb was forced open by the power of God, He emerged from the tomb, and in the garden He met Mary Magdalene and a number of other women. Later that day, He revealed Himself to His apostles. He had emerged bodily from death more alive than ever. And from here He began to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven into which He would lead all those who had died in faith (1 Corinthians 15:20).

He is risen! God’s plan has been fulfilled and we can rest assured that there is hope and victory in Jesus. He did stay in the grave, but conquered sin and death by rising from the dead to save us! In Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we see God’s amazing power and love for us and His redemptive plan has been finished. There is nothing left for us to do but accept His gift of grace and salvation to spend eternity in His presence. Celebrate!

The Bible tells us in John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” We all have sin in our lives. Sin is when we do anything our way or make decisions our way instead of God’s way. There is not a single person in the history of the world, except Jesus, that has ever lived a perfect life, free of sin. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

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Family Devotion:

Read aloud Luke 24:1-9 with your family

Activity #1: Eat the resurrection rolls (if you made them) and enjoy the surprise inside! On Saturday, the marshmallow was in the middle of the roll, but now, it is gone! This is a good representation for your children (and adults!) to see that Jesus body was put in the tomb, but that after three days, Jesus rose from the grave and the tomb was empty!

Activity #2:  For this activity, you will need cupcakes (or brownies, or anything else!) and a trick re-lighting candle. Light the candle and talk about how Jesus came to be the light of the world. On Friday and Saturday, it looked like the light had been blown out because Jesus had been crucified and buried. Blow out the candle and wait in silence while the flame is gone. When the flame comes back, celebrate! Point out that nothing can ever snuff out Jesus, the light of the world.

 

Prayer: As a family, spend some time praying and thanking God for sending His one and only son to die on the cross for our sins. Thank Him for making a way for us to be with Him forever in heaven. We need to celebrate the fact that Jesus was dead and buried, and that He rose again victorious from the grave! That makes everything worth while!

Remember to color the Easter Sunday circle to attach to your Palm Branch -Holy Week Mobile.

Please share with us your stories and photos this week as we worship and thank God together for the priceless gift of Jesus.

Connect with us: Share your Family Night photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @vistachurches @vistadublin @vistaworthington  #talkpraydo #vistafamilies

talk.pray.do: Holy Saturday

By | April 19, 2014

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Friday afternoon, Jesus “died and was buried.” He remained in His tomb in Jerusalem from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. However, during this time, Jesus was not idle. He entered into the realm of the dead and joined the righteous who were “resting” in a place of “shadows” awaiting their resurrection. Jesus’ disciples and His family no doubt mourned tremendously because few believed His promise of resurrection. They thought this was the end, and they grieved deeply.

Few of us have the skills we need for public grieving. In Jesus’ day, grieving was loud, messy, and emotional. People wore clothes signaling their grief; some might wear ashes on their head or tear their garments, and at times they might simply sit in silence. On the cross, Jesus recited Psalm 22 (a grave psalm) —and sadly, we do not read it all the way through. It begins: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” It ends 31 verses later with praise and confidence in God.

It was probably a horrible day when Jesus was crucified on the cross, but it may have been a worse day for His disciples and friends when He was buried. Can you imagine the scene? It might have finally sank in as the disciples saw Jesus put in the tomb with a large, heavy stone rolled in front of the door. Hope seemed to be lost. The person they had followed and given up a lot for had just been put into a tomb. In their eyes, the Messiah, who was supposed to make everything better, had died. What were they to do next? Little did they know that the greatest thing ever was about to happen on Sunday…

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Family Devotion:

Read aloud Mark 15:42-47 with your family

Activity #1: Get some toilet paper. Take turns wrapping each other in the toilet paper just as Jesus may have looked when prepared for burial. Talk about how the disciples might have felt when all their hopes seemed destroyed when Jesus died. Talk about how you and they would have felt if you had been there when Jesus died? What would you have done? 

Talk about how the burial isn’t the end of the story, but that it was a very sad day for Jesus’ friends.

Activity #2:  Make these Resurrection Rolls to help represent what happened to Jesus during the Resurrection. Follow the steps below. This is a great activity to do as a whole family on Saturday evening and wake up to Easter morning.

Resurrection Rolls

You will need:
• 1 can of refrigerated crescent rolls (there should be 8 rolls in the can)
• 8 large marshmallows
• 1 tbsp of butter or margarine
• ¼ tsp of cinnamon
• ¼ tsp of sugar
 
1. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Melt the butter and put the butter in another small bowl.
2. Lay out one triangle of crescent roll dough. This represents the “tomb”. Roll one marshmallow (representing Jesus) in the butter, then in the cinnamon and sugar mix. The butter, cinnamon, and sugar represent the spices and oil used to preserve Jesus’ body.
3. Put the marshmallow in the center of the triangle of dough. Roll the marshmallow (Jesus’ body inside the tomb). Be sure to close every corner of the “tomb” so the marshmallow doesn’t ooze out.
4. Roll the outside of the dough in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
5. Do the same thing for all other rolls to be made.
6. Follow the normal baking directions on the crescent roll container.
7. Allow the rolls to cool overnight to be enjoyed in the morning.

A surprise waits inside the rolls for the kids, but don’t tell them! The “tomb” will be empty in the morning!

 

Prayer: Pray as a family and thank God for not ending the story at Jesus’ death and burial. We have hope and victory because of what happened on the third day!

Additional Idea for Older Children: Here’s a good activity and discussion for older kids and family members to do (remember that you can modify it for age appropriateness and for your family) http://www.smellingcoffee.com/ 2012/04/a-good-friday-devotional-family-activity.html

Remember to color the Holy Saturday circle to attach to your Palm Branch -Holy Week Mobile.

Please share with us your stories and photos this week as we worship and thank God together for the priceless gift of Jesus.

Connect with us: Share your Family Night photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @vistachurches @vistadublin @vistaworthington  #talkpraydo #vistafamilies

 

talk.pray.do: Good Friday

By | April 18, 2014

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Today Christians throughout the world remember Jesus’ death.   Jesus was arrested late Thursday night, remained in custody until Friday morning, and then on Friday afternoon, after His trial, He was crucified. Before sundown, He was removed from the cross and buried in the tomb of a man named Joseph of Arimathea. Christ followers remembered well what happened while Jesus was on the cross since there were many eyewitnesses that day. Jesus spoke numerous words and each has been studied carefully. Perhaps the most famous words are those reported by Luke: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 ESV). This is a fulfillment of His frequent teaching: “I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’” (Matthew 5:44 ESV). On the cross, He forgave and loved even those who were hostile to Him

We know as Christians, we should love our enemies as Jesus did. But there is more here. Not infrequently, we know we are often disgruntled disciples, angry with God because of something that has happened and we wonder if these attitudes separate us from Jesus’ love. Jesus forgave those who crucified him. He does the same for us.

Jesus was crucified on the cross to take away the sins of the world. His death made it possible for us to not get what we deserve. How amazing is that? But, why do we call it “Good Friday?” On that day, it would have been hard to see the good in anything, or the plan that God had for us all. Jesus, the Messiah, had just been crucified like a criminal! What in the world can be so good about a day in which all hope looked lost and the Messiah died? It must have been a devastating day for the disciples and friends of Jesus. But, the story is not finished yet. Our hope did not die on the cross that day. There is victory to come!

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Family Devotion:

Read aloud Mark 15:22-39 with your family

*Use an easy to read version such as NIV or NLT. Note that if you have younger children you may want to read this out of a children’s bible such as The Beginner’s Bible. The story is simplified for their ease of understanding.

 Parents, instead of asking a lot of questions of your children. Use this time to talk about Jesus’ crucifixion and what that means for us as Christians. Allow them to ask questions, don’t be afraid to not have the right answer (if you don’t know, be honest with your son/daughter, but go look for the answers). Feel free to share your thoughts about the crucifixion and what it means to you. Here’s an example of how one mom explained the crucifixion to her kids.

Prayer: During this prayer time, I encourage you to pray and give thanks to God for sending his son to die on the cross for us. Use this prayer time to pray for non-believers, if there are some in your family, lift them up to God together.  Ask God to show you, how your family should live in response to Christ’s work on the cross.

Activity #1:  You’ll need two horseshoe nails or carpenter’s nails, light gauge wire, and a shoelace for each child. Help children lay their nails across each other like a cross, then start wrapping the wire around the point where the nails intersect to bind the nails into a cross. Criss-cross the wire in the center to help hold the nails in place. While you are doing all of this, have the kids recall an event of the Crucifixion with each wrap. Wrap more wire around the top and make a loop to hold the shoelace. Your kids can wear these simple necklaces to help them remember what Jesus did for us on the cross.

 

Activity #2:  Use this cross coloring page to help your kids remember that Jesus died for them. If they need it, help them write their names on the two blank lines in the sentence that says “Jesus loved ________ so much He died for _________.” Talk with them about how Jesus loved them so much that He wanted to save them from their sin.

Remember to color the Good Friday circle to attach to your Palm Branch -Holy Week Mobile. 

Please share with us your stories and photos this week as we worship and thank God together for the priceless gift of Jesus.

 Connect with us: Share your Family Night photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @vistachurches @vistadublin @vistaworthington  #talkpraydo #vistafamilies

talk.pray.do: Thursday

By | April 17, 2014

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Today Christians throughout the world gather to tell the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet and the story of His final meal—the Lord’s Supper—in a private room in Jerusalem. Some ancient churches begin a worship service this night and remain in worship continually until Easter Sunday morning.

The Jewish Passover Feast was set to begin at sundown, so throughout this day, Jews went to the Temple to ceremonially sacrifice a lamb for the Passover meal that night. Because the meal had to be eaten by dusk within Jerusalem’s walls, Jesus had prepared a room where He and His disciples would meet and celebrate together. His final meal, eaten this night, is one of His best-known activities. We call it the Lord’s Supper. This same evening, Jesus dressed as a slave and washed the feet of His disciples, and they found His action shocking. Foot washing was a common practice—however it was one that was always done by a servant. By His action, Jesus clearly demonstrated a model of how His followers are to live:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 ESV).

 

For Jesus, lowly service—service beyond what anyone might expect—is another hallmark of what it means to be His follower. In this deed, Jesus literally “made them clean” but He also saw this as a convenient symbol. They would be completely “cleansed” by His death on the cross where their sins would be forgiven. Remarkably, we are to join Jesus in this work. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15 NIV).

  • How can I imitate Jesus’ service to others?

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Family Devotion:

Read aloud John 13:1-5 with your family

  • Note that if you have younger children you may want to read this out of a children’s bible such as The Beginner’s Bible. The story is simplified for their ease of understanding.

Discussion questions:

  • What happened when the disciples did what Jesus asked them to do (at the beginning of the passage)? (Everything turned out exactly like he said it would. We can trust that God will do the same for us when we do what he has asked us to do.)

  • What did Jesus say was the way to become great in God’s Kingdom? Why does Jesus say you need to become like the youngest or like a servant? (Becoming great in God’s Kingdom means that you are not like the rulers of the world. The disciples had been promised that they would have a place of authority in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 19:28). Jesus wanted to make sure that they didn’t get caught up in the idea of ruling like the world showed. Jesus’ rule is completely different- understanding everyone from youngest to oldest, greatest to least.)

  • How do you think Peter felt when Jesus told him that he would deny Jesus three times? Why would this have been especially hard for Peter to hear? How would you have responded?

 

Family Activity #1: Have a bowl, a bar of soap, and paper towels ready. Take turns washing each other’s hands and drying them as you express love to each other.  Display the soap at your family worship space. You could also pray a simple pray for each other as you wash feet.

Family Activity #2: Take time to have an actual communion with your children. Set up communion with a loaf of bread and glasses of grape juice. Pass the loaf or larger piece of bread around allowing them to break off a piece. Explain that this is the way Jesus and the disciples would have done it at the Last Supper.

Older Children & Teenagers: This activity will mean more to elementary aged children and older. A good companion passage to use with this is found in I Corinthians 11. Talk about how celebrating Communion means that, besides remembering what he did, you are identifying yourself with Christ’s death. You can point out that Jesus gave them this instruction before the crucifixion. They weren’t totally sure what it meant yet. For us, though, it means that we are saying that we are thankful for what Jesus did on the cross and we believe that he is our savior because of that. Also, discuss that if you celebrate it without having decided to follow Jesus as savior, you are saying that you are something that you are not. Communion is not a ritual that brings salvation, but rather a time to reflect on how and why you are able to have true salvation.

 Remember to color the Maundy Thursday circle and attach it to your Holy Week Palm Branch

Additional Idea: Have each person in your family make a list of different ways that you can serve others around you. Does somebody at school need help? How about work? Can you serve and show love to anyone in your neighborhood? Throughout the next few weeks, challenge each other to complete some of the things on the list they have come up with.

Prayer: Pray that God would remind you daily to love, serve, and care for others around you.  Jesus gave us His perfect example and we should try to follow it in all ways of our lives.

 Extra note: The Passover seder meal is rich with meaning and symbolism. You might want to extend this activity and celebrate a kid-friendly seder meal together. Or you may want to read about the original Passover in Exodus 12.

 

talk.pray.do: Wednesday

By | April 16, 2014

 

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Judas betrayed Jesus because of his greed of money. In John 12, the Bible calls Judas a thief because of his love of money and stealing. The 30 pieces of silver that Judas betrayed Jesus for was equivalent to about 120 days of wages today, which is almost a third of a yearly salary. However, even though Judas meant for evil things to happen in his greed, God used the events to do more. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid for so much more than the 30 pieces of silver that Judas received.

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Family Devotion:

 

Read aloud Matthew 26:14-16 with your family.

Gather together 30 dimes or nickels. Let your kids count the dimes or nickels and place them at your family worship space.

 

 

 

  • Ask them if Jesus’ life on earth was worth more than 30 pieces of silver? Why or why not?
  • What was (and is) the true value of Jesus’ life to your family?
  • Talk about these things as a family and discuss the impact that Jesus has made on you as a family.

For younger children print this coin_bag page. You will also need 30 dimes or nickels for this game, or you can use the dimes and nickels from your earlier discussion. Help your kids count the coins as they place them on the empty spots on the bag page. If they lose count, help them start over if necessary. Talk with your kids about how Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins as they count their coins.

Prayer:  Take some time to pray as a family and thank God for what Jesus means to you as a family.

 

Please share with us your stories and photos this week as we worship and thank God together for the priceless gift of Jesus.

 

 Connect with us: Share your Family Night photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @vistachurches @vistadublin @vistaworthington  #talkpraydo #vistafamilies

 

 

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