“When all the power went out and she was huddled with her family in the living room with aftershocks shaking them, one of the children said, ‘Quick Mom, get our Easter candle. It will help us remember God is with us.'”
The more we connect our faith to our daily lives, the richer and deeper our experiences become. Sunday becomes a day to celebrate and share with our Church Family what has been shared and celebrated all week in our domestic church at home. Here are some family activities to enrich our spirituality at home:
Each time we gather in gratitude for a meal as family, we celebrate a Eucharist, which prepares us for the Eucharistic Celebration Meal with our Church family.
Include a centerpiece to provide a place of focus
Children in the family can take turns designing the centerpiece. It might incorporate signs of the season from nature or church. You may even find action figures among the candles. In addition, think about using candles, low light, and soft music as these elements slow the pace and exert a calming effect.
As a family, hold hands and thank God for the food and those who prepared it. Give each person a chance to share something from her or his day — God’s heart print.
Be intentional about speaking and listening
Make a Talking Stick: Roll a piece of brown tag board into a 24-inch-tall cylinder and tape it. Everyone in the family writes her or his name on the cylinder. Wrap yarn around the cylinder and add feathers and/or beads to decorate it. Around the table, pass the talking stick to each person. Whoever is holding the stick is invited to speak while everyone else listens.
Here are two great ideas for creating a culture of gratitude with children, or in any household:
Make gratefulness beads
Collect a variety of beads, bells, and string. Each family member chooses six beads to string with a small bell at the end of the string. Every night before bed, take time to count that day’s blessings using the gratefulness beads. For the Lord is good, and his love endures forever. (Psalm 100:5)
Create a bowl of thanksgiving
Place two bowls or baskets on your table. Pour popcorn kernels into one bowl, line the other with a napkin. Every day for a month, say what you are grateful for, take a kernel of popcorn from the bowl and place it in the basket. At the end of the month, pop the popcorn and eat it saying: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 34:8)
On Holy Saturday the Church waits in darkness until the Easter Candle is lighted to signify that Jesus, the Light of the World, has risen and brought back the light. The flame is passed from the one Candle to all members of the gathered church, spreading Jesus’ Light.
Make an Easter Candle for your home
As a family purchase a white pillar candle. Using beeswax strips or paper strips, create a cross on the front of the candle. Attach the strips with red thumbtacks at the end of each cross strip and one in the middle. As you turn out all the lights for bedtime on Holy Saturday, tell the child you will light your family Easter candle the next morning. On Easter morning, light the candle and say: “Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen.” You can add your Easter candle to your table centerpiece and light each of the Great Fifty Days of Easter.
In October 1989, when a major earthquake occurred in California, one of the mothers shared this story: When all the power went out and she was huddled with her family in the living room with aftershocks shaking them, one of the children said, “Quick Mom, get our Easter candle. It will help us remember God is with us.”
Bless This House
Scripture gives us a wonderful template for blessing family members, when God tells Moses what blessing Aaron should give the people of Israel, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face to you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Go to each child at bedtime with a candle
Let the child hold the candle as you trace a cross or a heart with your finger on their forehead and say: “I bless you with the love, protection and peace of our gracious God. Sweet Dreams.”
Kris Goodrich, M.S., is the co-founder and Director of the Child and Family Institute in Menlo Park, California. She is the co-author of three curriculum manuals, “PlayWays to God,” “Faith-Full Families,” and “Prayer Boxes.”
This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Episcopal Teacher, published by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. Photo from flickr.com Violette79, licensed by CC 2.5