Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you … in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, be with us today as we learn about Jesus and his time in the desert. Open our minds and our hearts, so that we may understand more about your Son, and all that he faced during his years here on earth. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Matthew 4:1-11
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, so that the devil could test him. After Jesus had gone without eating for forty days and nights, he was very hungry. Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to turn into bread.” Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say: ‘No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.’”

Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off. The Scriptures say: ‘God will give his angels orders about you. They will catch you in their arms, and you won’t hurt your feet on the stones.’” Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!’”

Finally, the devil took Jesus up on a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms on earth and their power. The devil said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came to help him. (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: What does it mean to be “tested?” What is the hardest test that you ever faced?

Child: Can you tell us what a desert is like? Why might the desert have been a particularly hard place for Jesus to be tested?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, it is comforting to know that Jesus faced times of testing while he was on earth, and that he understands when we do, too. Help us to look to you, and to the Bible, for strength when we need it most. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you know that God is with you during any test you face! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you … in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, thank you for the Holy Bible, where we can hear stories about those who have gone before us in the faith. Be with us as we learn today. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John kept objecting and said, “I ought to be baptized by you. Why have you come to me?” Jesus answered, “For now this is how it should be, because we must do all that God wants us to do.” Then John agreed.

So Jesus was baptized. And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.” (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: Why do you think John wanted to be baptized by Jesus, instead of the other way around?

Child: Why did you want me to be baptized? What is your favorite memory from my baptism?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, through baptism, you make us your children. Thank you for caring so much about us, and for bringing us into the family of faith! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you know that you are God’s beloved child! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you …
in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, be with us now, as we hear about those who came before us so long ago. Thank you for their courageous examples of faith. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Matthew 2:7-12
Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star. He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.”

The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  They were thrilled and excited to see the star.

When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him. Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road. (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: The wise men were people who studied the stars. What do you know about stars? Is there anything you can tell me?

Child: Why do you think the wise men left their homes? What had they seen? What do you think they expected to find at the end of their journey?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, you guide us every day, just as you did for the wise men. Lead us in the year ahead, and be with those who feel lost and alone at this time of year. Help them realize that you love them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you follow where God leads you! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you …in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, speak to us as we hear the Christmas story today. Teach us, so that we may learn from the example of those who came before us. Give us the courage to share our faith with others, as they did long ago. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Luke 2:8-20
That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David’s hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.”

Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.” After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. Everyone listened and was surprised. But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said. (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? If you were with the shepherds on that special night, what would you have done after seeing the angels?

Child: What do you think went through Mary’s mind when the shepherds showed up? What might have been most surprising about them?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, on this beautiful Christmas Day, we thank you for the most precious gift of your Son, Jesus. Like the shepherds, may we, too, tell others about how wonderful he is! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you tell others about Jesus! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you …in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, we ask you to be with us now as we settle in to hear your Word. Help us to better understand the amazing story of how your Son came down to earth. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Luke 2:1-7
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.

Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn. (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: It probably took Mary and Joseph nearly a week (or maybe more) to walk to Bethlehem. What do you think the hardest part of that journey might have been?

Child: It’s about 90 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem. What is the farthest distance you have ever walked? If our family was going on a long journey on foot, what are some things we might take with us?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, be with those who are travelling today. Please protect them and keep them safe, as you did for Mary and Joseph so long ago. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you follow where God leads you! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you …in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, as we look forward to the fun of Christmas, may we never forget the true “reason for the season.” Be with us now, as we learn more of our Savior’s story. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Luke 1:39-45
A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. She went into Zechariah’s home, where she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby moved within her. The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth.

Then in a loud voice she said to Mary: “God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.” (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: How did Elizabeth react when she saw Mary? How did Elizabeth’s baby respond? How might you have reacted if you were at Elizabeth’s house that day.

Child: The Holy Spirit who came to Elizabeth is also our Helper and Comforter. Can you think of a time in your life when the Holy Spirit helped you in some way? Tell us about that.

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus! May we receive him into our lives joyfully, as Elizabeth did so long ago. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you be filled with joy! Amen.

Monday: Understanding

Pray: Begin by making the sign of the cross and calling upon God's name.

From God to us, from death to life, from me to you …
in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O God, thank you for being with us. Help us to learn more about your mighty power as we study your Word today. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Listen: Pay close attention as these verses from the Bible are read aloud.

Luke 1:26-38
One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.” Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant.

Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!”  Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her. (CEV)

Engage: Talk about the Bible by having parents respond to children’s questions.

Child: What do you imagine the angel Gabriel looked like? How do you think you might react if an angel showed up with a message for you? Why?

Child: Mary was likely a teenager when she was visited by Gabriel. Can you think of other stories in the Bible where God has chosen young people to do important things? What are they?

Affirm: Pray for God to put his Word into action in your daily life.

Heavenly Father, you are a God of surprises. Even when we may not understand your plan, help us to accept all that you bring into our lives, as Mary did. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Have each person in the family bless one another with these words:

May you believe in God’s good plan! Amen.