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L.i.F.T Conversations

LiFT Balloons_edited.jpg

What is LiFT? 

Living in Faith Together is a monthly faith-full series of conversations and activities for all ages to grow their connection with God and with others.  We’re encouraging you to gather the second Sunday of each month, but you can choose any day.  Just be intentional (so you don't put it off--it happens to the best of us!).   

Who do I LiFT with? 

Anyone and everyone!  LiFT at home with your kids or grandkids, or a spouse (or both!).  Invite grown kids over or talk with them on the phone/online.  Gather a few friends or neighbors over a snack.  Join a small group after worship the second Sunday of the month.   Conversations and activities are divided by age, but you can do any of them.

Jump to a Specific Month:   

April  |  March | February  |  January

December  |  November  |  October

MAY LiFT

Theme and Scripture

Jesus gave ten lepers a new lease on life, and he does that for us every day.   

Luke 17:11-19

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    Ten Men Healed - pages 390-393 

  • The Action Bible:  
    Ten Sick Men - pages 665-666
    The Action Bible was updated, so check the provided page numbers to make sure the title matches your Bible.

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • What does it feel like when you’re sick and miss out on fun stuff others get to do?  What do you feel when you’re finally better and get to do it again?  

  • How does God lift you up when you’re feeling sick or left out? 

  • What does it mean to be thankful?  How do you show thankfulness?

  • Why do you think some of the sick men came back and some didn’t?

  • Lepers had to live in quarantine all the time.  Why do you think people were afraid of them?  How did it make them feel?

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • With an adult, research leprosy on the internet.  See if you can find out what it was like to live in a leper colony.   

  • If you know someone who is in quarantine right now because of COVID or home sick for another reason, make a card to drop off at their house or a video to send them. 

  • Make thank you notes. Use craft supplies or computer templates to create your own thank you notes to use as the occasion presents itself. Place them in a box or drawer with pens and your address book so that things are all ready when you need to use them.

  • Practice saying thank you with American Sign Language. Place the fingertips of an open hand to your lips, then move the hand out and down.  See if you can find out how to say “Thank you” in other languages.  Then practice saying thank you as much as you can!

  • Go on a gratitude walk. Take a walk together and stop to give God thanks for each wonderful thing you observe. Include people as well as things. Say a prayer of thanksgiving together at the end.

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Thank you, God, for all of the wonderful things in our lives. Thank you for:

- Name 5 people      

- Name 4 objects                

- Name 3 events in your life

- Name 2 good things about yourself               

- Name 1 food 

Finish thanking God for a new tomorrow . . . 

Keep Thinking:

Go overboard with the “thanks” for the next week. Thank the cat, the dog, and the people in your family.  Thank every shop employee and wave to the person who let you merge while driving.  Don’t forget to thank God for all the many blessings in your life! 

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read and discuss:

  • Luke 17:11-19 - Lepers Healed

  • All ten of the lepers were healed.  However, Jesus says that the faith of the one has “made him well.”  What’s the difference between being healed and being made well or whole?  

  • How does God provide wholeness, even when healing doesn’t come? 

  • We ask God for a lot of things, but often forget to thank God when our prayers are answered.  Why is that?  How can we be better about identifying and thanking God for answered prayers?  

  • When have you felt like others went on living while you were left hurting or sick?  What helps bring you back to life?  

Read and discuss:

  • Luke 13:10-17 - Healing on the Sabbath

  • Why do you think Jesus heals the woman?  Does God care about the things that are weighing us down?  How do you know?

  • Instead of saying he healed her, Jesus said that she is “set free.”  What difference does this language make?  What is she set free from?  What is she set free to do? 

  • How has God set you free?  What were you set free from? 
    What were you set free to do? 

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Look through the activity options for kids.  There are some that are suitable for any age.

  • Look through the activity options for kids.  There are some that are suitable for any age.

  • Learn about the effect loneliness has on our health (the equivalent of smoking 12 cigarettes a day) by reading a summary of the Surgeon General’s recent advisory about loneliness, and what we can do to combat it.  Download the full 82-page report here.  

  • Think of someone who is lonely, isolated, sick, or in quarantine right now.  Connect with them and connect them with others.  Visit if you can.  Bring signs of life to them. 

  • If you are struggling with loneliness, consider who you can connect with.  It might be a friend, neighbor, church member, family member, or a professional counselor.  Don’t go it alone.  Although you might not feel like you deserve love or attention, you do!

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Thank you, God, for all of the wonderful things in our lives. Thank you for:

- Name 5 people      

- Name 4 objects                

- Name 3 events in your life

- Name 2 good things about yourself               

- Name 1 food 

Finish thanking God for a new tomorrow . . . 

Keep Thinking:

Go overboard with the “thanks” for the next week. Thank the cat, the dog, and the people in your family.  Thank every shop employee and wave to the person who let you merge while driving.  Don’t forget to thank God for all the many blessings in your life! 

Next LiFT...  Next fall???

April

APRIL LiFT

Theme and Scripture

Jesus came back from the dead, so that we could have new life now and forever.   

Matthew 28:1-10

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    The Empty Tomb - pages 482-487
    Doubting Thomas - pages 492-495  

  • The Action Bible:  
    The Empty Tomb - pages 482-487
    Doubting Thomas - pages 492-495 
    The Action Bible was updated, so check the provided page numbers to make sure the title matches your Bible.

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • What is the scariest part of this story?  The most exciting part? 

  • What would it have been like to be with the women who found the stone rolled away?  What feelings would they have?  

  • What feelings do you think they had when they saw Jesus again?

  • If Jesus died and rose from the dead, what do you think happens when people die?  If they aren’t still here, where do they go? 

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Take turns sharing memories about loved ones who have died, like grand- and great-grandparents.  Give a prayer of thanks for the ways you have been blessed by them in person and/or in story.

  • Visit the gravesite of loved ones. Leave a token or plant a flower. Think of the blessings and share stories about those who are gone. Give thanks that they are with God.

  • Choose one person to be an angel who hides somewhere in the house. Everyone else pretends to be the women on Easter morning. Look for Jesus all around the house. Have the angel tell you, “Jesus is alive!” when you find him/her.

  • There are many signs of life outdoors. As a family, go on a nature hunt and search for things that remind you that Jesus is alive! Share with one another what you found and how it reminds you of Jesus. 

  • The angel rolled away the stone! Gather a collection of rocks that are large enough to paint a word or picture on them related to Easter. Use paints, paint markers, or permanent markers to decorate them.  Give them as gifts, save them to put out as Easter decorations next year, or add them as special treasures to find in next year’s egg hunt.

 

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear Jesus, we’re glad that you are alive.  But sometimes we do have a hard time believing that you are alive and that you care about us.  Whenever that happens, help us remember all the love you showed people, including through your death.  Raise us up today and every day, and someday when the time is right, unite us with all your loved ones with you in heaven. 

Keep Thinking:

Be on the lookout for signs of new life--a baby, a flower, a new restaurant, a bird, whatever.  In that moment, thank God for the gift of life, including your own.  

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read and discuss:

  • Matthew 28:1-10 - Jesus’ Resurrection

  • What is Jesus’ message?  

  • Why would Jesus tell them that he has gone ahead of them?  What might God be doing ahead of you for your future?  

  • It’s good that God isn’t dead.  But what difference does Jesus’ resurrection make in our lives?

Read and discuss:

  • John 20:1-18 - Jesus Appears to Mary

  • How is this telling of the resurrection different than in Matthew?  What does this one emphasize, and why is that significant?

  • Mary comes out of her stupor when Jesus says her name.  What do you think is the significance of that?  What would happen if Jesus said your name like that?

Read and discuss:

  • John 20:19-29 - Jesus Appears to Disciples

  • Why do you think Jesus starts with “Peace be with you”?

  • What is happening when Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on them?

  • What do you make of Thomas’ doubt and belief?  What is your relationship with faith and doubt?

 

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Look through the activity options for kids.  There are some that are suitable for any age.

  • Connect with someone who lost a loved one along with you (a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc.).  Talk about what your loved one meant to you and your belief that they are with God. 

  • Send a card to someone who has lost a loved one in the past year.  Just let them know that you’re thinking about them, and that they are important to you.  Even better, make a plan to do something with them! 

  • Share a time when you thought your life was over.  Then tell how you’ve discovered new life since that time.  What difference has God made for you?  

  • Pull out a hymnal.  Look for hymns that celebrate life and give you joy.  Sing it.  If you have a piano or other instrument, play it.  Or see if you can find a recording in your collection or online.  Learn more about your favorite Easter hymn at hymnary.org

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear Jesus, we’re glad you are alive.  But sometimes we have a hard time believing you are there and that you care about us.  When that happens, help us remember all the love you showed, including through your death.  Raise us up every day, and someday, when the time is right, unite us with all your loved ones with you in heaven. 

Keep Thinking:

Be on the lookout for signs of new life--a baby, a flower, a new restaurant, a bird, whatever.  In that moment, thank God for the gift of life, including your own. 

Next LiFT...  May 13

March

MARCH LiFT

Theme and Scripture

Like the Israelites in the wilderness, our lives are as much about the journey as the destination. 

Exodus 16:1-18; 17:1-17; 20:1-17

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    Manna, Quail, and Water - pages 90-93
    The Ten Commandments - pages 92-99  

  • The Action Bible:  
    The Complaining Begins - pages 145-149/155-159
    God’s Commandments - pages 155/185
    Quail Coming Out of Noses - pages 167-170/179-182
    The Action Bible was updated, so two different sets of page numbers are provided. Use what matches your Bible.

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • Would you like to eat quail? What do you think manna tastes like?

  • How is God taking care of us today?  What does God provide us?  Is it just food and water?  How (or through whom) does God deliver these things?

  • Why do you think God gave the 10 Commandments?  How do they make life easier and happier?

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • As a family, put a jigsaw puzzle together. The pieces are all different, but all are needed to make the picture complete. God wants us to live in a way that makes space for and honors each of us. 

  • Gather a friend or two (or a favorite toy or two) and pretend you are being led through the wilderness by God. God leads as fire by night and cloud by day. You can gather manna from the ground to eat each morning, and quails will come for you to eat each evening.

  • Create your own scavenger hunt.  Put a Bible sentence, picture from this story, or Commandment in each spot to discover.

  • Work together to memorize the 10 Commandments.  

  • Play Commandment Charades. Write each commandment on a slip of paper. Take turns acting out a commandment for others to guess. 

  • From a deck of cards, pull out numbers 1-10. Take turns picking a card. State the commandment that corresponds to your number and give an example of following it.

  • Look online for videos where the Hebrew people traveled. What does it look like today in places like Egypt, Israel, and Jordan? What would you need to plan for if you traveled to those areas today?

  • Go for a hike.  Look around and think about what God has provided.  What do you see?  Talk about how nature (the wilderness) can draw us closer to God.

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, in the wilderness you gave the Israelites freedom, food and water, and taught them how to live together and in relationship with you. Please continue to guide us as you guided them. Help us to live as faithful followers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Keep Thinking:

Listen to yourself this week. Whenever you catch yourself complaining, stop!  And thank God for all your blessings.

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read and discuss:

  • Exodus 16:1-18 - Manna from Heaven

  • What does this story tell us about God?  

  • What does God provide for US on a daily basis? 

Read and discuss:

  • Exodus 17:1-7 - Water from a Rock

  • What does this story tell us about ourselves?  

  • What do you often complain about?  How (and through whom) does God respond to your complaints?  

Read and discuss:

  • Exodus 20:1-17 - The 10 Commandments

  • How does reading the Commandments in the Bible differ from the way you remember learning them? 

  • What are the Commandments really about?  Why do we need them?  How does following them improve our lives?  What happens to our community when we do not live by them?

Check out these videos:

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Look through the activity options for kids.  There are some that are suitable for any age.

  • Read about someone who writes about nature, has trekked through the wilderness, or climbed a mountain. What hardships and successes have they encountered?  What does being in nature teach you about God and life?

  • Read Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism of the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer:  Give us this day our daily bread.

    • What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to acknowledge this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

    • What is meant by daily bread?  Daily bread includes everything needed for this life, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, fields, cattle, money, goods, God-fearing spouse and children, faithful servants and rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, order, honor, true friends, good neighbors, and the like.

  • What does this mean to you?

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, in the wilderness you gave the Israelites freedom, food and water, and taught them how to live together and in relationship with you. Please continue to guide us as you guided them. Help us to live as faithful followers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Keep Thinking:

Listen to yourself this week. Whenever you catch yourself complaining, stop!  And thank God for all your blessings.

February
January

FEBRUARY LiFT

Theme and Scripture

God first loved us, and so we love one another with a similar super-human love.

1 Corinthians 13

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    The Greatest Commandment - pages 308-311
    Love Is... - pages 546-549 

  • The Action Bible:  
    A Good Neighbor - pages 595-597
    This Bible has been revised, so your page numbers may be slightly different.

 

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • How do you know when someone loves you?

  • How do you show someone you love them?

  • How do you know God loves you?

  • What examples of love does Jesus show in his life? 

  • Why should we show love to each other?

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Make two lists. On one, list words describing what love is, like kind, gentle, and patient. In the other list, think of words that describe what love is not, like rude, selfish, or mean. Which list is longer? Why do you think it is? What can make loving others difficult?

  • Make hand-crafted Valentines for people not on your usual Valentine’s list. You might write things like “Jesus loves you and I
    do, too!” It’s okay if it’s after Valentine’s Day. 

  • Make a slide-show or short movie that demonstrates what love is and is not.  Use 1 Corinthians 13 as your guide.  Post it online.

  • Write the descriptions of love on index cards.  Take turns drawing a card and trying to show the loving action from the card through expressions and movement, but not words.

  • For your next family movie night, watch a video that depicts characters who serve, encourage, and help others.  Ideas: any Bob the Builder; Cars; WALL-E; Enchanted; Wow Wow Wubbzy! Wubbzy’s Big Movie!; Chicken Little; Nanny McFee; Mary Poppins; Everyone’s Hero; and The Wizard of Oz.  Talk about the love that is shown.

  • Spend time with someone you haven’t shown love to in a while, whether that’s on a call, video chat, or visiting their home. 

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, thank you for the love you have shown to us, especially through all the people you’ve placed in our lives.  Fill up our hearts with this goodness.  Lead us to show your love not just with our words, but with our actions.  We pray this knowing the love you showed in Jesus.  Amen.   

Keep Thinking:

Whenever you see a heart in the next week, take a moment to think about one way someone (and/or God) has shown love to you so far that day.  Thank God for it.  Then find a way to show love to someone else in the next 15 minutes. 

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read and discuss:

  • Mark 12:28-34 - The Greatest Commandments

  • What does the “second greatest” commandment have to do with the first?  Can you do the first without the second? 

  • What does loving others as you love yourself look like?

Read and discuss:

  • John 13:34-35 - Discipleship is Love

  • How has Jesus shown love to us?  (Look at John 13:1-20 for a way.)

  • What is it about demonstrating love that identifies us as Jesus’ followers?

Read and discuss:

  • 1 Corinthians 13 - Love is...

  • What does true, Godly love look and feel like?  How much of it is feelings, and how much of it is actions? 

  • What leads us to do those things that love is not? 

  • What’s all that other stuff in verses 11-12 got to do with love? 

  • What leads you to abiding faith, hope and love? 

Read and discuss:

  • 1 John 4:7-21 - God first loved us

  • What is it about God’s love that leads us to love others?  

  • Why is it important that God loves us first?  

  • How does God’s love free us from fear, and what difference does that make?  What happens to us when we don’t love others?

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Look through the activity options for kids.  There are some that are suitable for any age.

  • Make a plan to show love to someone who is not a member of your family.  Call a nursing facility and see how you can help the residents.  Volunteer at In As Much food pantry.  Cook or help clean for someone who needs help around the house.  Take a kid (or their parent) under your wing and mentor them.

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, thank you for the love you have shown to us, especially through all the people you’ve placed in our lives.  Fill up our hearts with this goodness.  Lead us to show your love not just with our words, but with our actions.  We pray this knowing the love you showed in Jesus.  Amen.   

Keep Thinking:

Whenever you see a heart in the next week, take a moment to think about one way someone (and/or God) has shown love to you so far that day.  Thank God for it.  Then find a way to show love to someone else in the next 15 minutes. 

Next LiFT...  March 12

JANUARY LiFT

Theme and Scripture

In baptism, we are adopted as God’s beloved children and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Luke 3:1-18 and Matthew 3:13-17

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    John the Baptist - pages 234-239
    Jesus’ Baptism - pages 242-245   

  • The Action Bible:  
    Birth of a Prophet - pages 556-557
    Baptized - pages 579-581
    This Bible has been revised, so your page numbers may be slightly different.

 

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • Why did Jesus have to be baptized if he is divine and sinless?  Martin Luther described this as the “happy exchange.”  What of our lives does God take on when joining with us in Jesus?  What of God do we receive in return?   

  • Why do you think we baptize babies in the Lutheran tradition?  Why not wait until people have the opportunity to choose God and prove their worth to God?  

  • Brainstorm all the times God uses water to rescue people in the Old Testament.  Are you sensing a theme?  

Read Water Come Down

  • If your child was baptized at Hosanna! in the past 6 years, your child received a copy of 
    the book Water Come Down by Walter Wangerin Jr.  Read this book together again.  

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Baptism is a time when we think about God’s love for us. Make a Love Box together. Cut a hole in the top of a shoe box. Decorate the box with stickers, markers, crayons, or paint. Throughout the week, place love notes in the box for each other. Read them together at the end of the week.

  • The story of Jesus’ baptism is found in all four gospels. See if you can find these verses. Then look for other places in the Bible that talk about baptism or water. (You can use a concordance in the back of a full Bible or search online for help.) Work on building up your Bible searching skills together!

  • Use watercolor paint to create the scene of a baptism.  Will it be in a river like Jesus?  Or in a church baptismal font like you?  In baptism, God invites us to join God in the act of creation.   How is painting with watercolors like how God creates, shapes, and colors the world with water? Talk about how you get to help God be creative in the world. 

  • Make rock candy as an object lesson for how from the waters of baptism comes the rock solid promise of God’s love. It’s easy, fun, and takes about a week. The supplies are simple: a glass jar, a thread or skewer, water, and sugar. Search online for specific instructions.

  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Search online for information about this body of water. How long is the river? How deep? What animals and plants live by this river? Then explore a river near your home to find the same kinds of facts. Did you find any similarities between these two rivers?

  • Everyone loves to hear stories about when they were little. Take out family photos, videos, and memorabilia from the kid’s baptism and play “I remember when . . . “  Invite grandparents and long-distance relatives into the discussion by phone or video chat.  

  • If you don’t remember that dates of your kids’ baptism or your own, take this opportunity to research and find the dates (we likely have a record in the church office if you need it).  Mark the dates on your calendar and make a plan to celebrate somehow in the coming year.  

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, we are called to repentance. We are called to turn our lives around and begin living righteous lives. We should behave the way Jesus taught and lived. With you loving us, it should not be so hard, but it is! God, please continue to be with us. Please continue to help us act according to your wishes. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Whenever you encounter water in the next week (taking a drink, in the bath/shower, when it rains, in a pool, taking care of a pet, etc.), take a moment to think about your baptism.  What might this water remind you about God’s promise of life for you?

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read the story...

Luke 1:5-25, 57-80 - Birth of John the Baptist

Discuss these questions:

  • Why do you think Zechariah was struck mute?  

  • Research the meaning of the name John.  Why might this be a fitting name for this child?  

  • What stands out to you in Zechariah’s prophesy (sometimes called the Benedictus) in verses 68-79?  What does it say about who God is?  What does it say about what God is doing through John and Jesus?  

Read another passage...

Luke 3:1-22 - John the Baptist and Jesus’ Baptism

Discuss these questions:

  • The words of verses 4-6 come from Isaiah 40.  What do these words prophesy?  What is God’s will for our world?  

  • The Hebrew word for repentance (shoov) means to “turn around” or “turn back.”  In Greek, the word (metanoia) used in the Bible means to “be of a changed mind.”  What does repentance mean to you?  How do you “repent?”  

  • From where did John the Baptist and Jesus claim their authority? How did others—religious and political leaders of that time, for instance—claim authority? Who do we let be in charge today and why?

Read another passage...

John 3:1-21 - Born again

Discuss these questions:

  • This is a confusing passage--not just for us, but for Nicodemus, a religious “expert.”  What do you think Jesus is trying to say?  

  • This is context in which we receive that well-known verse John 3:16 (and the equally important John 3:17).  What does baptism have to do with God’s saving love for the world? 

Read another passage...

Acts 8:26-40 - Phillip and the Ethiopian

Discuss these questions:

  • What prompts baptism in this story?  What is necessary?  How complicated should baptism and other acts of faith be?  Who can be baptized?  

  • What do you think the Ethiopian man receives in baptism? 

Read another passage...

Isaiah 11:1-3a - The Spirit of the Lord

Discuss these questions:

  • Whenever we baptize, we pray for the Spirit to fill the newly baptized, using words similar to those found here in Isaiah.  What do these words mean? 

  • What qualities or talents does the Spirit give to us?  Which gift most connects with you? 

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • The story of Jesus’ baptism is found in all four gospels. See if you can find these verses. Then look for other places in the Bible that talk about baptism or water. (You can use a concordance in the back of a full Bible or search online for help.) Work on building up your Bible searching skills!

  • Use watercolor paint to create the scene of a baptism--in a river like Jesus or a church baptismal font.  In baptism, God invites us to join in the act of creation.  How is painting with watercolors like how God creates, shapes, and colors the world with water?  How do you help God be creative in the world?

  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Search online for information about this body of water. How long is the river? How deep? What animals and plants live by this river? Then explore a river near your home to find the same kinds of facts. Did you find any similarities between these two rivers

  • Everyone loves to hear stories about when they were little. Take out family photos, videos, and memorabilia from the your kids’ (or your own) baptism.  Talk with others who might remember these events.  If your kids are grown up, call them or your grandkids to share your memories with them. 

  • If you don’t remember that dates of your kids’ baptism or your own, take this opportunity to research and find the dates (we likely have a record in the church office if you need it).  Mark the dates on your calendar and make a plan to celebrate somehow in the coming year (such as calling your kids or grandkids and wishing them a happy baptismal birthday).

 

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, we are called to repentance. We are called to turn our lives around and begin living righteous lives. We should behave the way Jesus taught and lived. With you loving us, it should not be so hard, but it is! God, please continue to be with us. Please continue to help us act according to your wishes. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Whenever you encounter water in the next week (taking a drink, in the shower, when it rains, in a pool, in a stream or river, taking care of a pet, etc.), take a moment to recall your baptism.  What might this water remind you about God’s promise of life for you?  

Next LiFT...  February 12

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December

DECEMBER LiFT

Theme and Scripture

God experienced the fullness of humanity through Jesus--all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows.  God is with us (and understands us)!

 

Matthew 1:18–25, 2:1–12 and Luke 1:26–58; 2:1–20

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible: 
    You might read the first two sets of stories now and the final one on Christmas after opening presents. Or read them all both times!
    A Ruler from Bethlehem - pages 194-195
    Angels Visit, Mary Visits Elizabeth - pages 196-207
    Jesus Is Born - pages 212-217   

  • The Action Bible:  
    You might read the first set now, and the second set on Christmas Day.  Or read them all both times!
    The Life of Jesus, When in Rome, Angel Promises - pages 546-555
    Mary and Joseph, Birth of a Savior - pages 558-565
    This Bible has been revised, so your page numbers may be slightly different.

 

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • Who are Mary and Joseph?  Why do you think God chose them (of all people) to be Jesus’ parents?

  • What do you think God felt when God was a baby in Jesus?  What did Jesus need as a baby?  How do you think this helps God understand you and your needs?

  • What do we receive from babies?

Watch Christmas Movies

  • Movies that focus on Jesus and the nativity:

    • The Star 

    • Veggie Tales: The Star of Christmas

  • Movies that focus on grace and love:

    • The Grinch / How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    • Polar Express

    • A Charlie Brown Christmas

    • The Muppet Christmas Carol

    • Veggie Tales:  Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

    • Veggie Tales: The Toy That Saved Christmas

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Sing or listen to favorite hymns or carols as a family.  Search YouTube for different versions of your favorite carols.  Research online the origin of your favorite carols.  

  • Folk art nativity scenes are made by people who aren’t professional artists and uses available materials. Search online for nativity sets from around the globe. What differences do you see?  Why?  What parts are always the same?  Why?  Create your own nativity scene with whatever you have.

  • Make a special ritual to put a nativity ornament on the tree before or after all of the other ones (you might need a special nativity ornament for each kid!).  

  • If you have an angel on the top of your tree, talk about why it’s there, and how it’s like the angels the appeared to Mary and to the shepherds.  What message might it have for us?

  • Imagine a favorite toy is the baby Jesus and sing him to sleep.

  • Make up quiz show clues based on the Christmas story from the Bible and see what family members know about this story.  

Make a plan to celebrate Jesus this Christmas:

We all know how it goes...  Presents are the first and last things on kids minds at Christmas.  That’s okay.  They aren’t greedy; they are kids who get excited.  Consider how you can connect this excitement to God and find joy about Jesus, too.  This takes planning and being intentional about making opportunities to talk about and experience birth of Jesus and God’s nearness.  What if we spent as much time preparing to talk about the birth of Jesus as we spend buying presents! Consider these ideas:

  • Attend worship on Christmas Eve, wherever you are.  Hosanna! has worship at 5:00 and 7:00.  Come again Christmas morning at 9:30!

  • Instead of getting presents for your kids to give spouses or siblings, let them be part of picking it out.  Talk about why we give gifts, the joy it brings people, and what a gift God is.  

  • Play with a nativity set.  Dig out the DIY nativity kit you got at Hosanna! during the pandemic or pick up one at church on Dec. 18.  Talk about the characters and what they might have been like.  Allow each character to tell the Christmas story from their perspective (don’t forget the animals!).  Act out the Christmas story with the pieces, but let the kids humanize it with conversations and unexpected twists, too.  

    • Go a step further by recording your kids acting out the story of Christmas with the nativity, then share it on social media.

  • Find ways to focus on people instead of stuff, just like God did when God was born in Jesus.  Don’t worry about making Christmas perfect or magical.  The first Christmas wasn’t.  It was messy, and about love and relationship.  

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Dear God, thank you for giving yourself to us at Christmas.  Help us remember that you understand what we love and what we fear, and to see you in our lives.  Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Throughout the season, keep looking for opportunities to talk about the birth of Jesus and pointing out ways God is with us. 

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read the story...

Luke 1:26–58 - Mary’s Experience

Discuss these questions:

  • How would you have felt if you were in Mary’s shoes?

  • Why do you think Mary was so willing to go along with things?  

  • Are there clues from her song (the Magnificat) in vss. 46-55?  

Read another passage...

Matthew 1:18–25 - Joseph’s Dream

Discuss these questions:

  • What did Joseph have to be afraid of?  

  • What do you think gave him the trust to move forward with Mary?  

  • What do you think he had to sacrifice to do that?  

Read another passage...

Luke 2:1–20 - The Birth of Jesus

Discuss these questions:

  • Why is it significant that Jesus is born in this way?

  • Why would the news be shared first with shepherds?  What would it have meant to them?  

Read another passage...

Matthew 2:1–18 - Coming of the Magi

Discuss these questions:

  • Why is it significant that they didn’t find Jesus in the palace? 

  • Research the meaning of the gifts the magi bring.

Watch Christmas Movies

There are some “kid” movies included in this list, but Christmas is a good time to experience God’s action through the eyes and with the faith of a child.

  • Movies that focus on Jesus and the nativity:

    • The Chosen: Season 1 - “The Shepherd” Christmas Special

    • The Chosen: Season 2 - “The Messengers” Christmas Special

    • The Star 

    • The Nativity Story

  • Movies that focus on grace and love:

    • The Grinch / How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    • Polar Express

    • A Charlie Brown Christmas

    • The Muppet Christmas Carol

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Spend time looking at any nativities in your home.  Think about the characters and what they might have been like.  What would they have thought and experienced? 

    • Consider how your nativity was made.  What was the creator trying to convey in the way they made it and the characters?

    • When visiting friends or family, ask about their nativities.  What stories are behind them?  What do they love most    about them?  Use this as an opportunity to talk about Jesus birth with them!

  • Sing or listen to favorite hymns or carols.  Search YouTube for different versions of your favorite carols.  Research online the origin of your favorite carols. 

Make a plan to celebrate Jesus this Christmas:

We focus a lot on kids, events, and shopping at Christmastime, and it can be easy to rush around and forget what’s important.  Be intentional and make plans to focus on God and how God is with you at Christmas.  Consider these ideas:

  • Attend worship on Christmas Eve, wherever you are.  Hosanna! has worship at 5:00 and 7:00.  Come again Christmas morning at 9:30!

  • Don’t just give gifts.  Remind the recipients of the love behind the gift.  

  • Take time to share the Christmas story with grandkids, nieces, or nephews.  Read it to them from a children’s Bible, just tell them the story, or use a nativity set to share the story.

  • Find ways to focus on people instead of stuff, just like God did when God was born in Jesus.  Don’t worry about making Christmas perfect or magical.  The first Christmas wasn’t.  It was messy, and about love and relationship.  

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Give us grateful and generous hearts, O God.  You give us all we need.  Help us to share all that we have like the widow.  
In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Keep looking around for opportunities to be grateful.  Help kids value what they have whenever you see them really enjoying something by naming out loud what a joy it is.  Keep looking for opportunities to turn thanks into giving.

Next LiFT...  January 15

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NOVEMBER LiFT

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible:  The Widow’s Offering, pages 342-345 

  • The Action Bible:  Money Troubles, pages 681-684 
    This Bible has been revised, so your page numbers may be slightly different.

 

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • Why do you think the widow shares her money with God and others?  Why do you think the rich man does?  Why might you want to share?  What’s the impact on others?  On yourself?

  • Can you name 10 things and people you are thankful for?  15?  20?  One starting with each letter of the alphabet?

  • What kinds of gifts can we give that don’t cost any money?  Who can you share with?

  • Talk about organizations, causes, and people your family contributes to.  What do you give?  Why?  How does your family decide how much to give?   How does it make you feel when you give?  How can your kids help contribute?

Read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein:

If you have the book, read it together.  If you don’t, listen and look at the pictures on YouTube with this video.

Then, discuss the following:  

  • What did the giving tree give to the boy?  Why do you think the giving tree gave so much? 

  • What did the giving tree have to give by the end of the story? 

  • Is there someone who is a giving tree to you? 

  • Who can you be a giving tree to? 

 

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Find items you have that you aren’t using or enjoying anymore to share with someone else.  Fill a box together, or one for each person.  Give it to another family that might appreciate it, or donate the items to the Hillcrest Hope Thrift Store.  Reflecting on how you enjoyed these things in the past, how do you think they will make someone else feel?  [Parents, this is a great way to make room before the holidays!]

  • Give Art.  Find out who in your congregation or community could use some joy. Work on an art project, such as a sculpture or painting. Give it to that person as a special way of sharing your talent. Tell that person the story of the widow’s offering or ask them to share a favorite story with you.

  • Hold a coin toss! Place several small boxes, cups, or bowls together on the floor. Have members of your family stand five to ten feet away and try to toss coins into the containers. On Sunday morning, take the coins that made it into the containers and give them as an offering.

  • Take this time to teach your kids how to manage money.  Consider a jar system, using an app like FamZoo to track allowances and spending, playing the Savings Spree app, or find resources online that fit your kids (such as this article from Parents Magazine).  
    A great model for kids is 10-10-80:  share the first 10%, save the next 10%, and spend the remaining 80% (that’s a lot!)

  • Choose one (or more) meals to make as inexpensively as you can. Shop as a family and calculate how much you saved compared to another meal you might have had. Cook together. Give the money you saved to charity. Before you eat, pray for the charity and the people you helped.

  • Learn about how money is made.  Check out this video on YouTube.  If you give your last penny to help someone else, it can mean more than giving all the money in the video!

  • Fill out the Time and Talent survey.  Help your kids fill out the Time and Talent Survey (use the kids’ version) that came in the stewardship letter and turn it in to the offering plate.  Or, fill it out now online.  

 

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Give us grateful and generous hearts, O God.  You give us all we need.  Help us to share all that we have like the widow.  
In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Keep looking around for opportunities to be grateful.  Help kids value what they have whenever you see them really enjoying something by naming out loud what a joy it is.  Keep looking for opportunities to turn thanks into giving.

LiFT with Teens/Adults

Read the story...

Mark 12:38-44 - The Widow’s Offering

Discuss these questions:

  • Why do you think the widow shares her money with God and others?  Why do you think the rich man does?   What is your motivation for giving?  If it’s not where you’d like to be, be honest about it and consider how to alter your mindset.  

  • What do you think the widow’s offering accomplishes when she gives to God?  Is it just institution-building?  What does God do with what you give to church and charities?

Read another passage...

2 Corinthians 9:16 - Cheerful Giving

Discuss these questions:

  • Name 20 things and people you are thankful for.

  • Talk about the organizations, causes, and people you support.  What do you give?  Why?  How does you decide how much to give? How does it make you feel when you give?  

  • How do you feel when you give to help others?  How do you think it makes them feel (be specific about the causes you support)?  What difference does our mindset make when giving?

Read another passage...

Luke 12:22-24 - Where our treasure is

Discuss these questions:

  • We usually think about giving where our heart is.  However, Jesus says the opposite:  “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Where are you investing your treasure, and how is that impacting your heart?

  • It’s tempting to want to maintain control when we give to the church or charities.  What might it be like to give trusting that God will use it as needed?

Read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein:

If you have the book, read it together.  If you don’t, listen and look at the pictures on YouTube with this video.

Then, discuss the following:  

  • What did the giving tree give to the boy?  Why do you think the giving tree gave so much? 

  • What did the giving tree have to give by the end of the story? 

  • Is there someone who is a giving tree to you? 

  • Who can you be a giving tree to? 

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Find out what percent of each dollar given to your favorite charities actually goes toward their actual programs versus how much is considered “overhead.”  A great resource for this is a website called Charity Navigator.

  • Fill out your Hosanna! pledge and the Time and Talent survey.  You can use the paper copy that came in your fall stewardship letter and turn it in to the offering plate.  Or, fill it out now online.  

  • Find items you have that you aren’t using or enjoying anymore to share with someone else.  Give them to another family that might appreciate it, or donate the items to the Hillcrest Hope Thrift Store or Goodwill.  While you’re there, ask about what your donations support.  Reflecting on how you enjoyed these things in the past, how do you think they will make someone else feel?  

  • Learn about how money is made.  Check out this video on YouTube that describes the process.  If you give your last penny to help someone else, it can mean more than giving all the money in the video!

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Give us grateful and generous hearts, O God.  You give us all we need.  Help us to share all that we have like the widow.  
In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Keep Thinking:

Keep looking around for opportunities to be grateful.  Help kids value what they have whenever you see them really enjoying something by naming out loud what a joy it is.  Keep looking for opportunities to turn thanks into giving.

Next LiFT...  December 11

God has given us an abundance of blessings.  We find joy in thanking God, and in sharing our bounty. 


Mark 12:38-44 - The Widow’s Offering

Theme and Scripture

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November

OCTOBER LiFT

LiFT with Children

Read the story together in the Bible:

  • Spark Story Bible:  The Burning Bush and Free from Slavery, pages 72-79 

  • The Action Bible:  A Burning Bush! and Spokesmen for God, pages 121-128

 

Ask each other some or all of these questions:

  • How do you act when you don’t want to do something you’ve been asked to do? 

  • How does God call you to help carry out his plan for our world? 

  • God commanded Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground by the burning bush. Why do you think this act was so important? Can you think of times in our world we might do something similar, such as when we pray or sing the national anthem? 

  • Take turns rolling a die and listing that number of people you know (or know of) who have been called by God to do something in our world. Think of Bible heroes, people in your community, family members, friends, and characters from history, even if what they do is everyday stuff.

 

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Place drops of red, orange, and yellow fingerpaint on paper. Use a straw to blow the paint to make a burning bush. 

  • Hang this on your refrigerator to remind you of this story! 

  • Search for some voice recordings that you think might sound like God’s voice. Is God’s voice high or low? Fast or slow? Intense or calm? Quiet or loud? Put together an audio collage of different voices that might sound like God’s voice and share it with your family. 

  • Talk to your family members about some things they’ve felt God calling them to do. If those things were difficult, ask them to talk about how they knew that God was with them, helping them. 

  • Act out this story outside. Grab some sandals and a flashlight. One person shines the flashlight through a bush and talks like God. The other person wears the sandals and pretends to be Moses. What do God and Moses talk about?

  • God issues a challenge to Moses through the burning bush. Is there a family challenge you can come up with: to raise money for your church or a special charity? To enter a walk-a-thon to raise funds and awareness for the hungry? To plan a neighborhood block party? God loves big ideas!

  • God used an amazing burning bush to get Moses’ attention. With adult supervision, light your own burning bush — a candle — at dinner. Gather around the glowing light and talk about how God gets your attention. Does God use nature, the Bible, loved ones, or strangers?

  • God told Moses that the Israelites would be rescued from the Egyptians. Moses would lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. As a family, make some honey muffins and serve with milk.

  • Have you ever thought about how much music impacts our mood? Have every family member pick out a couple of their favorite songs. Sit down together and take turns sharing your songs. Listen to what you really like about each other’s music and how it makes you feel.

  • Listen to the different voices around you — voices in your family, on the radio, at school — and talk about what God’s voice might sound like. 

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Thank you, God, for working with us and through us, and sometimes in spite of us! Help us to hear your call to our family to do what needs to be done in the world. AMEN. 

 

Keep Thinking:

Next time you’re around a fire, remember this amazing story of the Burning Bush when the bush burned but did not burn up! 

LiFT with Teens/Adults

 

Read the story... Part 1

Moses Flees - Exodus 2:11-25

 

Discuss these questions:

  • Eventually Moses will bring the Hebrew people out of slavery.  What impact do you think this experience with the Egyptian beating a Hebrew had on him?  How have experiences in your past (even bad ones) brought you to where you are today?  

  • Instead of confrontation, Moses runs.  When have you run away from hard things?  How has God helped you face it at a later time?  

 

Read the story... Part 2

At the Burning Bush - Exodus 3:1-12

 

Discuss these questions:

  • Why do you think God begins with, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”?  What difference does it make knowing your history?

  • God speaks to Moses through a burning bush.  How does God speak to you?  How easy or hard is it to resist God?  

  • God says, “I have observed the misery of my people . . . I have heard their cry . . . I know their sufferings.”  Do you think God sees you?  Hears your cries?  Knows your sufferings?  If so, what’s God doing about it?  Who is the “Moses” God is preparing to send you?

 

Read the story... Part 3

The Divine Name - Exodus 3:13-22

 

Discuss these questions:

  • God tells Moses to say, “I AM has sent me to you.”  The Hebrew words God uses for “I AM” more literally translate to English as “the One who causes to be.”  God identifies as One who does stuff.   What kind of stuff does God do in the world and (more importantly) in your life?  What name would you give God based on that action?

  • God also unveils a rather specific plan.  How would you feel if God came to you with a plan like that?  How do you feel when God’s plan for you doesn’t fit your plan for you?  

Read the story... Part 4

Miraculous Power - Exodus 4:1-17

 

Discuss these questions:

  • God performs a bunch of miracles for Moses as a way of convincing people.  Sometimes we yearn for miracles or signs like the kind Moses gets.  However, later in the story when they get performed before Pharaoh, they shock and awe, but they don’t change his mind.  What is more likely to convince you or others of God’s liberating love than miracles or signs?

  • For Moses’ third excuse for why he can’t do this, he says he’s a terrible public speaker.  What is God’s answer to this?  Who does else does it involve?

 

Take a moment to think on these topics and then share them with those with you:

  • Identify something challenging you’ve had to do that ended up being life-giving to you or to someone else.  

  • What was your first reaction to doing it?

  • Did you have a perfect plan or know everything to expect going into it?  If you didn’t (and it’s pretty likely you didn’t), how did you manage it?  How was God involved in that?

  • What does this experience teach you about challenging experiences still ahead of you?  

  • If you were to find a bush on fire in your backyard today, and God spoke to you through it, what do you think God would be calling you to do

 

Choose a few activities that fit you:

  • Light a candle or sit by a fire. Take off your shoes, sit down, and listen for God to talk.  Watch the flames closely to help you clear your mind and focus.

  • Make an origami bush to remind you of this story.  Learn how to do it on YouTube.

  • Research the Protestant Reformation online or at a library.

  • Read, listen to, or watch online the “I have a dream” speech (the whole thing) by Martin Luther King Jr.  Then ponder what God was calling him to do, and who he was called to liberate.  What impact did it have?  What did it cost him?  

  • Think about the power of simple changes with this puzzle... 

    • Instructions:  Change one word into another by altering only one letter at a time to make a common English word at each step. No letters may be scrambled from one step to the next. 

    • For example:  to change “BELL” to “BEAR” in three steps, you could write BELL - BELT - BEAT - BEAR.

    • Now you try it, each in 3 steps:

      • CAST to FAME 

      • ROLE to MOOD 

      • BELT to MUST 

      • DIVE to NAME 

      • TREE to FLED 

    • Click here for the answers.

Pray together this or a prayer you make up:

Thank you, God, for working with us and through us, and sometimes in spite of us!  Help us to hear your call to do what needs to be done in for the people around use and for the sake of the world. AMEN. 

 

Keep Thinking:

Next time you’re around a fire, remember this story.  Consider what God is calling you to do in that moment.

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God calls us to do big things, and sometimes that involves change and reformation. 

Exodus 2:11-4:17 - Moses and the Burning Bush

Theme and Scripture

October
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