If parents can be sensitive to moments when their children are having “God moments” — experiences of wonder, awe and compassion, then at some point, and probably not immediately, the parent could introduce the concept of God. For instance, in a moment of great contentment, a parent might say, “Can you feel God loving you right now?” A moment of beholding beauty could invite, “Can you feel God’s delight in this flower? This bird? This sunset?” In a moment of seeing someone suffer, “What do you think God wants this person to know right now? How might we be God’s helpers with this person?”
Rituals help provide space for God moments, while providing a language for interpreting. As eating is so basic to life, it is good to pause to say grace before meals. (I have included a list of possible graces.)
People often justify avoiding public worship because there is no guarantee that at such times what I am calling “God moments” will happen. On the other hand, the simple discipline of learning to routinely providing space for God to come to us by gathering with the community of faith in worship is an invaluable lesson that often isn’t appreciated by someone until they’ve experienced a taste for “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that inevitably touch us all.
From early on it is important to clarify with our children that the “church” is the people who gather to worship and serve God; the “church building” is the place where this group of people gather to worship God. We do well to emphasize that although God is everywhere, there is something very special about experiencing God with others, and that consequently this place we gather with others to be with God invites a reverence that distinguishes it from other places. After departing from the gathering of the church, parents can open up blessed discussions by asking their children what they experienced while they were there.
In so far as Advent and Christmas are only three months away, it is not too early to anticipate how we will take advantage of the possibilities the season provides us with. Advent wreaths and calendars can be a great addition to our grace before supper.
Santa Claus is fun, but I would suggest not making such a big deal about him that he overshadows the story of the birth of Jesus. If too much emphasis is placed on Santa, the disillusionment that can come with the eventual doubts of his existence could be unfortunate.
Be warned that the way the culture works at Christmas is that the presents a kid receives each year become the precedent that they come to expect to least meet, if not exceed, the following year. Be careful of putting yourself in debt in order to pursue the demon of “more, more, more.” Be creative in creating opportunities for joy that don’t depend on expensive gifts.
The Christmas story with the baby Jesus being born to a homeless family invites consideration of the plight of the poor. It is important for our children to recognize their material fortune, and to recognize that a great many people in this world can not count on food, housing and adequate health care. If encounters with people less materially fortunate are possible, be sensitive to avoid attitudes of condescension. There is much to admire in the courage and generosity that is often present among the poor.
The story at the heart of Christian faith invites us to look squarely at the reality of death. Jesus truly died; it was painful, and he and his disciples truly grieved. But the resurrection affirms that God’s love remains with us in death; that there is an exquisite new life beyond this life that is beyond our capacity to fully imagine. Though we speak with confidence of heaven, however, we need to honor the fact that our children will need to grieve when someone they love dies, just as we do. It is an invaluable lesson to learn that we can feel terribly sad, and then in time move on with life.
Try to avoid giving pat answers to the big questions that arise around death. For instance, when someone dies in a manner that can seem “way to early,” the question is often raised: “Why did God let him/her die?!” it is okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that one. What I do know is that God loves the person we have loved, and that God loves this person still, and God is here for us as we feel sad that this person is gone.”
Come Lord Jesus be our guest, let this food to us be blessed. Amen.
For food in a world where many walk in hunger; For faith in a world where many walk in fear; For friends in a world where many walk alone; We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.
For all we eat, and all we wear, for daily bread, and nightly care, we thank thee heavenly Father. Amen.
For food and health and happy days receive our gratitude and praise.
In serving others Lord may we epay our dept of love to thee
Amen Rub a dub dub; thanks for the grub; yeaaa God!
For our many blessings, for our many blessings, A-ah-men, A-ah-men.
May our talk glow with peace; come with your love to surround us.
Friendship and love may they bloom and glow, gloom and glow forever.
Bless our friends, Bless our food, Bless all people forever.
The Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need the sun and the rain and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me. Johnny Appleseed-Amen!
… I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Guard me Jesus through the night, And wake me up in the morning light.
… Praise the Lord my soul to keep Angels waiting in the night to guide me thru to mornings light.
… I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Thy angels watch me through the night, And keep me safe ’til morning Light.
3) Father, now the night has come, all my work and play are done. This has been a happy day, now I come to you and pray.
4) Bless the children everywhere, keep us in your loving care, while we sleep and while we wake, bless us all for Jesus’ sake.
Angel of God my guardian dear, To whom His love commits me here, Every each day be at my side To light and guard, To rule and guide, Amen.
Thank you, God for today, You blessed my work you blessed my play.
Gentle Jesus hear my prayer. Keep in in your tender care. Be my guide in all I do, and Help me live my life to you. Bless ….(family members and pets, etc.)With all that I do, and all that I say, help me to walk in Jesus’ way.
Dear God, I thank You for Your care. You’ve been right with me everywhere:At school, at play, You’re by my side. My special Friend, my loving Guide. And when the sun has said goodbye And little stars shine in the sky. You’re still with me, not far above; Right in my heart, for You are Love. Amen