Category: lent

Family Resources for Lent

By | February 21, 2015

The season of Lent has begun! This Christian tradition started on Ash Wednesday (February 18th) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 4th) – the day before Easter Sunday.

The 40 days of Lent (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days, because Sunday is the day of resurrection) reflect the 40 days that Christ was tempted in the desert, and are a time of preparation for Easter. The focus of Lent is on self-denial, sacrifice, and simplicity; a time when Christians reflect on all that Christ “gave up” by dying on the cross. Many Christians use this time for fasting and prayer; as a period of spiritual reflection, soul-searching, and renewal, and many choose to “give up” something as a personal sacrifice during this period.  The Holy Spirit ministers to our souls and changes our hearts… but our part is not passive! Do we cultivate the disciplines (like solitude, fasting and prayer) that put the plow to the ground for the Spirit to work? Having spent the first part of 2015 growing as Worshipful, Relational and Missional people through our “Kingdom DNA” series, let’s plant some seeds of discipline to allow the Spirit to grow us and our families into more of who He’s made us to be — fruitful followers of Jesus!

Below are some wonderful resources for families to participate together:

  • Sense of the Resurrection -12 activities leads families through Jesus’ anointing to the empty tomb – Please email Melinda Woody for more information.
  • Recreate the Passover meal – Help children experience the Passover meal that Christ partook with his disciples as the last supper
  • Easter tree – Similar to a Jesse tree at Christmas time, the Easter tree is a fun way for kids to celebrate and learn about the different aspects of the Easter story by placing symbolic ornaments on a homemade tree.
  • Give up something – Lent is a time of sacrifice. Have each member of the family choose something they will give up during the season of Lent. Some suggestions: television, chocolate, a favorite toy, computer games, certain music.
  • Make Resurrection Rolls. This is a favorite activity for my kids! Marshmallows represent Jesus’ body going into the “tomb” of crescent rolls. When they come out of the oven, Jesus’ body (the marshmallow) is gone!
  • Act out the Resurrection Story, or Passion Play, as a family.

Share with us how your family is participating in Lent together.  We would love to hear and see the pictures.

Don’t forget about other opportunities to be together as a family.

Mid-40 days reflective gatherings

Vista Dublin: Wed., March 4, 6 – 8 p.m. Come and go as you please | Dublin Rec. Center

Vista Worthington: Wed., March 11, 7 p.m. Griswold Center ~child care provided for gatherings

Easter Sunday Services  Sunday, April 5th

Vista Dublin: 9 & 11 a.m. at Dublin Jerome High School

Vista Worthington: 9:45 a.m. at Marcus Theatres

Lent 101

By | February 17, 2015

Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.

 

When is Lent?

It’s the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays because every Sunday is like a little Easter. This year it’s from Ash Wednesday February 18th to Holy Saturday April 4th.

 

So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday?

Yes. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and return our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with ashes.

 

Why ashes?

In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/ dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

 

Where do the ashes come from?

On what we now call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved palms and cheered him on. Less then a week later, Jesus was killed. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. We get ashes for Ash Wednesday by saving the palms from Palm Sunday, burning them, and mixing them with a little water (like tears) or oil. It’s symbolic.

 

What do Christians do with ashes?

At an Ash Wednesday service, folks are invited to come forward to receive the ashes. The minister will make a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.

 

So what is LENT?

At Jesus’ baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased.” Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit. Where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. During his time there he was tempted by Satan and found clarity and strength to resist temptation. Afterwards, he was ready to begin his ministry.

 

Why “DO” Lent? How do I start?

Are you searching for something more? Tired of running in circles, but not really living life with direction, purpose or passion? It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the drama of classes, relationships, family, and work. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. We try to fill the emptiness inside us with mindless TV, meaningless chatter, stimulants, alcohol, too many activities or other irrelevant stuff. We run away from life and from God.

Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. You might try one of these practices for Lent:

 

  • FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that’s not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, tv, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying Gods creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do?

 

  • SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to tutor children, or work for reform and justice in your community. You can commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend everyday of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God.

 

  • PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.

How will your family use the time to grow closer to God?  Over the next 40 days we will be sharing ways your family can participate in Lent together.

 

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: Palm Sunday

By | April 13, 2014

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Today’s Bible story describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem during Passover week, riding on a donkey like the prophet Zechariah foretold. (Zech. 9:9) The people welcoming Jesus with palm branches believed He would overthrow Roman oppression and be an earthly king. Jesus sent a different message when He arrived in Jerusalem.

Jesus entered the temple complex. He turned over the tables of the money changers and those selling doves. Jesus said the temple was supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:6-7), declaring His kingship would be over all people, not just the Jews. Jesus healed the blind and the lame. Jesus wasn’t just an earthly king; He was God! (Isa. 35:4-6)

Help kids connect the dots between God’s promises of a Messiah and Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. How did the people act when they saw Jesus? The people welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem as their King. Celebrate why Jesus came: to save the world from sin!

 

Family Devotion:

Materials: Bible, jackets, branches (Palm Branch) , on sturdy back.

Prepare for your reenactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry by spreading the jackets out and giving the children branches.

Read John 21:1-17

 

Say: Great kings usually rode into town on a horse driven chariot. Jesus, however was not that kind of king.  He would not rule the kind of kingdom the people were expecting. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah prophesied.

Ask: What might be some reasons Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem this way?

Say: While the people arrived in Jerusalem with their lambs for the Passover, Jesus our Passover Lamb, was showing Himself to His people.  After His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus headed to the temple.  Earthly kings would be gone to their palaces, but Jesus instead went to His Father’s house-the temple.  Even the children could not help but shout

“HOSANNA to the SON OF DAVID”

Reenact today’s Bible story.  Let your children play Jesus and ride a parents back, while the other children can wave branches and shout Hosanna!  Encourage your young child to plan your family’s own Praise Parade for Jesus—in your house, backyard, or maybe up and down the sidewalk. Make color copies of the palm branch. Others may use crepe paper and attach color streamers to a dowel rod or baton. Others can use real musical instruments (or make simple drums or horns out of kitchen items).

 

Family Worship: Check out Yancy: Hosanna Rock!

Talk with your child about the excitement that must have been in the air that day!

• Why did the people honor Jesus?

• What do you think Jesus was thinking and feeling?

April talk.pray.do

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Why do we celebrate Easter?
What’s your favorite Easter tradition?
Who is one person we can pray for this week and invite to attend church with us?

 

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In addition to the Prayer Pail, this month as you tuck in your children, talk to them about the amazing gift God gave us. He gave us his only son, Jesus. Share with them that when we believe in Jesus, we have the opportunity to have a relationship FOREVER with God! That’s a pretty incredible gift. Pray together and thank God for giving us Jesus.

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Our family take home this month is a bit different. We encourage you to participate in a week-long family devotion over this coming Holy Week. Starting today April 13th (Palm Sunday) and ending on Easter Sunday. We will be posting on the Vista Parents blog a devotional along with other opportunities to share with your children about the Easter Story. Each day you complete the devotion attach the corresponding day on the Hosanna palm leaf, creating your own 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.

Check the blog daily!

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