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Beginnings — Christian ed at home

We’re again on the cusp of a new year, though this one seems quite different.  Yes, there have been years when we have individually been grateful to see one year end and another begin, but rarely have we collectively wanted to say goodbye to an entire orbit around the sun.  Looking ahead to a new year (even if we’re doing so with cautious optimism), gives us a chance to reflect on the multitude of goodness put in motion when God came to walk among us as Jesus.  In this activity, you and your children will explore what it meant for “the Word to become flesh and live among us,” and set intentions for continuing to serve as Jesus’ hands and feet in 2021.

Begin the time with your children by talking about new beginnings.  Ask them to think of times when they were beginning something new.  What did they feel like in those moments?  Share some of your own reflections on times when you have begun a new venture.  Explain that we often feel a range of emotions when we start sometime new.  We may be a bit nervous about the unknown, but most of all, we are hopeful for what is to come.

Prepare to read aloud John 1:1-18. You may want to use a children’s Bible (or the picture book  “Jesus, the Word” by Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones) since the language in John’s Gospel can be a bit confusing for younger children.  Share with your children that John wanted to explain to people how important Jesus was.  He wanted them to know that Jesus sent by God and that through Jesus, people could know and experience all that God offers the world.  In this text, John uses “the Word” to refer to Jesus to make a theological statement that is likely too abstract for young children to grasp.  To simplify, simply share with your children that John talks about Jesus, he refers to him as “the Word”.  Ask your children to notice all the ways that John describes “the Word” in this passage.

Read the passage aloud.  When you are finished, ask your children what they noticed John saying about Jesus/the Word.  What was Jesus able to do?  What did people experience because of his presence on earth?  Be sure that they notice that Jesus/the Word was with God from the beginning.  All that people experienced through Jesus (grace and truth, light in the darkness) began well before he arrived as a baby born in a stable.  It all started “in the beginning with God” (John 1:2).

Next, share with your children that we are at the point of a new beginning.  A new year is beginning.  Just as Jesus’ birth allowed God to share God’s hopes and dreams for the world with humanity, we can set our own hopes for the future and can record them to help guide us throughout the new year.

Gather supplies for creating your new year craft: colored paper, markers or crayons, scissors, glue and popsicle sticks (if you have them).  If you’re using popsicle sticks, lay out several of them on the table in front of your children.  If you do not have sticks, cut strips of colored paper that are 1-2” thick and 6” long and lay them out in front of your children.  Ask your children to list what they hope will happen in the new year.  Tell them to think of things that they’d like to continue as well as new things they would like to happen.  Encourage them to focus on things that they personally hope for as well as those that continue the work that Jesus began during his time on earth.  Have them write or draw each of their hopes on a strip of paper or popsicle stick.  When they have filled several, have them lay out the strips/sticks on a full sheet of construction paper.  Ask them to arrange them in a design that makes them think about their journey through the year ahead.  Then have them glue the strips/sticks on to the paper.

Finish the activity by saying a prayer for the new year.  Ask God to help guide and care for your family as the year begins.  Pray for God to encourage and support your children as they live into the hopes they have shared.  Hang the craft somewhere in your home where it can serve as a reminder of their hopes and dreams for 2021.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.