Second Sunday of Advent, December 4th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn “Come Now, O Prince of PeaceYou can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:

Multicultural Version (English & Korean)
All English Version

3. Pray, “Dear Lord, we are grateful that your thoughts are not our thoughts, or that our ways are your ways. (say refrain in unison) Your ways are so much higher than ours. You make the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and they do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. (say refrain in unison) Your Word goes out and it does not return empty; it accomplishes all that you desire.

Help us to be humble peacemakers who trust in you.  (say refrain in unison) Free us from worry, fear, anger, grief, and other distractions so we can be your joy-filled helpers spreading peace and wholeness in all of your creation. (say refrain in unison)

“For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12) (say refrain in unison). Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. As a family, choose and review the Acts of Service you have committed to do during this season. Remember and celebrate what you did last week, and then prepare for what you have chosen to do this week. We also encourage you to review the prayers on your gift tags as you gather during the week.

First Sunday of Advent, November 27th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” You can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:
Chris Tomlin & Christy Nockels
Fernando Ortega
The Choir of St John’s College Chapel

3. Pray, “Gracious God, as we wait with anticipation for the birth of Jesus, help us to open our eyes to see your presence and to work for wholeness and healing. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to care, and the strength to work toward your beloved kingdom of grace and mercy. Help us to shout with joy when we see your presence! Remind us, O God, that your kingdom is on the way and will come right on time. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. Decide where to hang the prayer gift tags this season (ex. Christmas tree, clipped onto a string on the wall, hung on tree branches used as your dinner table centerpiece, etc.).  As a family, review the Acts of Service opportunities on the enclosed sheet. You may wish to cut them apart, place in a container and choose one action to do whenever you’re gathered. Or, you may wish to select the most do-able ones for your family, and commit to those during the season.

 

Practicing Thanksgiving: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Over the years, Building Faith has published many articles about Thanksgiving. Below you will find some of their favorites. From at-home activities, to the history and meaning of Thanksgiving, you are sure to find something helpful for you and your family. We believe that gratitude is one of the most important attitudes to practice and to teach young people. All our best to you as you thank God for the many blessings in your life.


Thanksgiving Context & Culture: This brief article, from the Living the Good News curriculum, is a treasure trove of information about the origins of Thanksgiving. Additionally, the authors explain the clear connections to the Christians faith and why giving thanks is a key component of Christianity.

10 Thanksgiving Prayers & Table Graces: Looking for that perfect prayer to say around the Thanksgiving table? We’ve assembled ten options, ranging from traditional to contemporary… simple to creative. You might even wish to print these out and share.

5 Thanksgiving Gratitude Crafts: Charlotte Hand Greeson offers five crafts with themes of gratitude. Some of these are familiar, and all of them can be found online. The key, however, is Charlotte’s advice about using the crafts to inculcate gratitude. Indeed, it’s not about the craft, but about the conversation and lessons that the craft brings forth.

Thanksgiving Litanies: For churches or faith communities looking for suggestions for Thanksgiving worship, this post is a real winner. You will find two litanies (extended call and response prayers) that capture the importance of the season and help us give thanks for all of God’s blessings.

Thanksgiving Activities for Church & Family: Sharon Ely Pearson offers brilliant ideas for getting into the Thanksgiving spirit. All of these options are adaptable, and most could be used in a variety of settings: church, home, classroom, etc. Most helpful is the way that these activities draw focus to God and gratitude for God’s blessings and care.

11 Ways to Practice Gratitude with Kids: Brook Packard offers brilliant ideas for year-round activities that teach and model gratitude for children. From a ‘gratitude song book’ to an intentional process of giving items away, these simple practices are fun, intergenerational, and helpful.

Prayer Sticks: A Holy Home Activity: This is another year-round activity, but perfect for Thanksgiving. The idea is simple: take a jar and fill it with popsicle sticks (craft sticks) each labled with a prayer intention. By keeping the jar on your meal-time table, you can introduce prayer and gratitude into the rhythm of household life.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Miracles of Jesus

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


Often when we teach the stories of the miraculous works of Jesus Christ from the gospels, both teachers and students get caught up in the plausibility or the probability of each one. We try to figure out how you fillet a fish into that many parts rather than trying to find the meaning behind a story of abundance.

Confirmation is the perfect time to really wrestle with the miraculous moments in scripture – especially those done at the hands (and feet) of Jesus. When students have been taught the stories of Jesus’ miracles as younger children, they have had time to integrate the details into their understanding of who Jesus was. In Confirmation they can then wrestle with their faith in Jesus as a miracle worker and the question of what they can do when the miracles seem too hard to believe.

Can you believe in Jesus without believing in miracles?  For some the answer will be yes. For some it will be no. For some students this will not be a pivotal moment in their year of discernment, but for others this may be the lynch pin that helps them make an informed decision about their faith. These conversations require time to be devoted to this deep exploration and practice in struggling with our faith. This is why it is vital that all students come ready to have these conversations and knowing the following stories from all four of the gospels.

51. Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44)
52. Walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-23)
53. The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)
54. Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)
55. The Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 5:17-26)

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Parables of Jesus

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


It was a conversation on the parables that first brought to my attention the possibility that students were not as prepared for Confirmation Class as I had hoped they would be. It was my very first class, and I was in my very first year of ordained ministry. We must have been talking about the New Testament or about the Gospels, and I asked if anyone could tell us the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Silence.

“Has anyone heard the story before, but just can’t tell it to us?”

Silence.

“Does the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ mean anything to anyone?” Hands finally went up in the air, and they explained that this is how you describe helping someone out, being nice to someone in need, going out of your way. They even knew about “good Samaritan laws” that reduce the liability of those who stop to help strangers in need. But none of them could describe the actual Parable of the Good Samaritan.

That was ten years ago. Just last week I had yet another variation on that experience as I prepared our Middle Schoolers to spend a year learning about and exploring the parables of Jesus. So below, in my ongoing series on the things that students should bring with them to Confirmation Class, are five iconic parables. We should not only tell these to our children, but also teach them to recognize them as important pieces of the message of the Gospel.

46. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
47. The Lost Sheep and Coin (Luke 15:1-10)
48. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
49. The Sower (Matthew 13:1-9)
50. The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31-32)

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Gospels

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


So often how we teach our children about Jesusdoesn’t involve reading a standard Bible translation with them. We teach them about Jesus through picture books, nativity sets, children’s Bibles, movies, Sunday school classroom posters, stained glass windows, etc.

I am not arguing against any of these methods of teaching children about Jesus and to be disciples of Jesus, but it is important to be mindful that as a child grows, their understanding and picture of Jesus should grow as well. Obviously the gospels themselves are the best tool to stimulate that growth.

The first step in preparing a student for Confirmation class and an adult understanding of Jesus is helping them to understand what a gospel is in the first place. A gospel is the “Good News,” which in Greek is “euangelion.” (This is where we get the word “evangelism” – to tell the Good News.) Practically, though, a Gospel is a book about Jesus’ life, ministry and teachings.

Most likely, a child who attends worship or Sunday School regularly has heard of the four Gospels that are in the Christian Bible, and these are numbers 41-45 on my list of 100.

36. Matthew
37. Mark
38. Luke
39. John
40. The Acts of the Apostles

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – Iconic Characters

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


In some Christian traditions (such as the one in which I teach) we believe that the Word of God is inspired by the work of the Holy Spirit. This means that we believe that human beings, inspired by God, wrote down their experiences of God, their religious practices, and the stories of their tradition. Imbued in their words is a Word of truth that we continue to seek after today.

In my experience (and in my specific tradition), much of the Bible study we do in Confirmation is about helping students make this shift from a literal and factual reading of these stories of the Old Testament to a more literary and theological reading which helps them seek that biblical truth for themselves.

For some students, making this transition is actually a relief. For other students, however, this transition is very hard to make.

Below is a list of 5 iconic Old Testament characters and their story, and a very brief summary of what larger biblical lessons we can talk about in class.

36. Jonah
37. Daniel
38. Ruth
39. Esther
40. Samson

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – Wisdom of the Old Testament

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


In Confirmation Class we give special attention to the varieties of types of literature contained in the Bible, including wisdom literature and prophetic literature. Ideally, students would come to class able to recognize passages like those listed below; they can learn in class how to categorize them into different styles.

I will include the full text for each passage (in the New Revised Standard Version) and then describe the conversations these can lead us to.

31. Psalm 23
32. Proverbs
33. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
34. Isaiah 9:2-7 & 11:1-9
35. Jeremiah 18:1-11

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Kingdom of Israel

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


Not only do students come to Confirmation not knowing the details of these portions of the Old Testament that talk about The Kingdom of Israel, they have not even been introduced to some of the basic concepts that I outline below, which frame much of the context of the New Testament and are at the foundations of Old Testament theology.

26. The Basics
27. The Stories of David
28. The Temple
29. The Exile
30. The Historical Books

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Ten Commandments

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


In teaching the Ten Commandments to children, it is certainly helpful to start them off with the story of where they came from. You can talk to them about God meeting Moses on Mt. Sinai and teaching him the laws that the people were to follow. What could be better than the image of Moses carrying these two heavy stone tablets down to the people only to discover them breaking numbers 1 and possibly 2 already? Then he smashes them to pieces – how exciting!

It is a bigger question to consider how we teach our children to actually follow the Ten Commandments. While there are a variety of Sunday school posters or charts that we might use, in reality we teach our children to follow the Ten Commandments in pretty simple ways.

Carolyn Brown, on her blog Worshiping with Children, has a great exercise to do with children: helping them to write opposite commandments as a way to help them understand what the actual commandments are trying to teach.

When a student starts Confirmation class, the key is not to make sure that they are not lying, stealing, coveting or worshiping idols – but to make sure that they know that the Bible teaches in very clear ways that these are not God’s intentions for us.

16. You shall worship God alone
17. You shall not make any idols of God
18. You shall not abuse the name of God
19. You shall keep the Sabbath holy
20. Honor your father and mother
21. You shall not murder
22. You shall not commit adultery
23. You shall not steal
24. You shall not lie
25. You shall not covet what your neighbor owns

Click here to read the full blog post.

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