Good Dirt Eastertide

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide.

Easter is the day our lives are changed forever. Nothing, absolutely nothing will ever be the same. But for many of us Easter is as mundane as Tuesday’s Twinkies. We put on clothes we hate, hunt eggs we will never eat, and yawn through the Easter service. It wasn’t always this way.

Easter is Christianity’s oldest celebration. It began with the day Jesus rose from death, and the celebration hasn’t stopped! Long before the church celebrated Christmas, we celebrated Easter. Easter should never play second fiddle to Christmas. We have Christmas because of Easter; Easter is the reason we celebrate Christmas. The Bread of Life conquered death—that’s the best news there is! As we’ve been journeying with Jesus this year, we have heard over and over again his teaching about the Kingdom of God. We’ve seen him claim to know God in a unique, one-of-a-kind way in the Gospel of John; we’ve watched as he heals and forgives and loves.

At Easter, we get the best news of all—this Kingdom life is the real deal! By overcoming death itself, Jesus proves that the with-God life simply cannot be held down! So as we set out to imitate his life, we can have confidence and joy that Jesus’ abundant life truly is the best life on offer. From the drab, cold winter days of Lent to the dark sadness of Holy Saturday, the question is raised—how can any joy come out of such loss and sadness?

Easter answers: God’s power and life is so strong that it can go through death and come out victorious the other side!

Till: Hallelujah! You are risen, Jesus, you are risen, indeed! Nothing can stop you from giving us new life, because you triumphed over death. Hallelujah!

Plant: John 1:1-18

Water:
Light it: Be sure to light the Christ candle.

There are so many special things going on today that there probably won’t be time to sit and have a usual activity time today. Instead, enter fully into the joy of Easter. Go party! He is risen, indeed!

Weed: What did it feel like to rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection today? What made you happy today?

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Good Dirt Palm Sunday

Excerpt taken from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide. 

Holy Week is split into two parts. The first part is Palm Sunday through Holy Wednesday, which does not take us into the suffering of Jesus; instead we look ahead to what is worth dying for. The first part is full of preparation and confirmation. As Joan Chittister says in her book The Liturgical Year,

“These first days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.”

Welcome Home Party: Create a welcome banner for Jesus. Read the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus (today’s reading) as a family. Enjoy special snacks; even invite the neighbors to join you in welcoming Jesus home.

Create a Blessing Banner: Part of looking ahead from death to life is found in looking ahead from winter to spring. Use poster board and construction paper to make a flower garden. On each of the flower petals write a blessing or something worth living for. Use the poster as a Holy Week reminder that life triumphs over death.

 

Till: We thank you, Jesus, for showing us how to live a humble and good life. Help us today to prepare for your coming. Show us how to celebrate your arrival!

Plant:Matt. 21:1-16

Water:
Watch it: Watch for the love and life of Jesus today.

Visit the Altar: In the sand, draw a picture of your favorite thing about Jesus.

Weed: How did you celebrate today? How can you carry this celebration through to Good Friday?

What’s up with Holy Week?

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide.

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends just as we launch into the celebration of Eastertide. Holy Week places the divine/cosmic paradox we observe during Lent—death to life—under the microscope. We take a good look, with our hearts and minds, at how Jesus himself lived this paradox.

As parents we may wonder how to explain the Christian mystery of death becoming life to our children. The blessing of ritual shows us the way. The small rituals already set in place during Lent and in each additional activity for Holy Week have a miraculous ability to impart understanding to children.

Year after year these rituals teach the paradox of death to life. Their theology will not be complex, but children will know that out of death comes life. When children are young they relate best to the life part of the paradox. Spring is the breaking from the death of winter. Consistently pointing out all the signs of spring is a powerful reminder. Older children can enter in and participate in the death to life paradox. Always bring discussions back to the fact: “Life wins.” Older children can benefit and will mature from time spent practicing dying to their own wills, and in sincere, thoughtful meditation on the last week of Christ in which he moved from life to death, and back to life everlasting.

In what ways are you living the paradox right now?

Good Dirt Sunday

The following excerpt is from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Till: Jesus, your ways aren’t our ways. We have such a hard time with self-sacrifice, serving, and letting go of things we want even when they aren’t good for us. Help us to trust you more. Help us to release control and follow you, even in hard situations.

Plant: Mark 8:31–9:1

Water:

Imagine it: When Jesus told his disciples that his path was leading to suffering and death, they couldn’t believe it! Peter even told Jesus to stop being so gloomy! Why do you think they reacted that way? How do you think you would have reacted?

Enter it: Jesus’ way leads through suffering and loss. We have to follow him through it too so that we let go of the things that keep us from God. Tell about a time when you had to do something hard that you didn’t like, but it turned out to be good for you.

Apply it: Is there an area in your life where you need to give control to Jesus? What is one small step you could take today?

Weed: What was hard today? How did you feel about it? What was easy today?

Good Dirt Sunday

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 
Till: Lord, help us! We are so quick to try to do life on our own, to think we know everything, and to miss what you are doing because we are focused on what we are doing. Please clear out our pride and help us rely on you!

Plant: Mark 8:11-21

Water: Create it: Today Jesus warns the disciples against the “contaminating yeast” of the Pharisees. To help kids understand this point, fill a clear glass with water, then put in just a drop or two of food coloring. Allow it to stand for a day, and observe what happens—all the water changes color!

Apply it: The disciples don’t seem to understand that they can rely on Jesus for every need! They are in the boat, squabbling about bread, when he’s just miraculously divided bread for thousands of people! Are there times when you tend to forget to rely on God, and focus only on what you can do without him?

Live it: Today, take “pause” moments to invite God to provide for you throughout the day. A “pause” might be every time you take a drink. Say a short “Thank you” to God.

Weed:When did you rely on God today? How did that feel? When did you try to do it on your own? How did that feel?

Good Dirt Sunday

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide
Till: Jesus, you are powerful! You can defeat any evil, and drive away any enemy that would harm us. We are amazed by you!

Plant:Mark 5:1-20

Water:
Draw it: Make a drawing of part of this story that captures your imagination. Share your drawing and tell why you chose this part of the story.

Apply it: Jesus shows that he has power even over a rioting mob of evil spirits. Where do you need to see that Jesus is powerful today?

Weed: Did you see the power of Jesus today? Where? Describe what you saw. Invite Jesus’ power to stay with you and protect you tonight.

Good Dirt Sunday

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Till: Jesus, we are all ears. We are listening to you! Help us to listen with our ears and our hearts. Help us obey, so we can be students who learn to be just like our teacher. Help us to be like you.

Plant:Mark 3:31–4:9

Water:

Draw it: Create a picture of the plants in each of the four soils: the hard road, the gravel, the weeds, and the good earth. Which of these plants is most like you?

Apply it: Jesus tells us that the people who are his students are as close to him as family. How does it make you feel to know you’re in God’s family? What is one way you could act like Jesus’ family today?

Weed: Tell about a happy or sad thing that happened today. When did you have an opportunity to act like Jesus’ family today? Remember that you are a precious child of God and nothing can change that.

Good Dirt Sunday

Excerpt taken from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Till: Jesus, you are with us and it’s a time to celebrate. Help us learn that you are better than anything we give up.

Plant:Mark 2:18-22

Water:
Enter it: In this passage, Jesus talks about fasting—giving up food or something else in order to focus on God. While he was here, his disciples didn’t fast because it was a celebration! What would it be like if you went to a birthday party, but refused to eat cake and acted really sad? How would the birthday person feel about that?

Apply it: Talk about what you have chosen to give up during this season of Lent. How can your fast (or your cravings or habits) remind you to look for Jesus today? (Or, if you are taking Sundays off of the fast,how can enjoying this thing today remind you to rejoice in Jesus?)

Weed: How did your fast help you look for Jesus today? Or, if you are taking Sundays off of the fast, how did today remind you to rejoice in Jesus?

Ash Wednesday: Excerpt from Good Dirt

Devotional excerpt taken from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Ash Wednesday

Till:
God, you made us, and you know: we’re made from dust, we return to dust. Thank you for being compassionate to us in our weakness, and accepting us in Jesus.

Plant:Luke 18:9-14

Water:
Play it: Encourage children to act out the parable Jesus tells in today’s reading. This will help them visualize what Jesus is teaching.

Enter it: In this story, there are two men: one whose prayer focuses on his own goodness, and one who just asks God for forgiveness. Jesus says that the second man, who asked for mercy, was made right with God, and not the other. Why do you think that is?

Apply it: God forgives us when we confess our sins. (Read 1 John 1:9). What would it look like today if you trusted God and admitted when you are wrong, instead of hiding mistakes?

 

Weed: Lead your family in a time of confession at the end of the day. Where did you fall short of loving God and loving others? Be sure to thank God for his forgiveness. Then reflect: What was it like today, admitting mistakes instead of hiding them? How was it hard? How did it change your attitude?

Good Dirt Sunday

*This devotional excerpt is taken from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany

Sunday
Till:
 Jesus, you not only taught but showed us that when we entrust our lives to you and give up everything, we don’t lose out. No, our life blossoms forth like a seed into the most beautiful flowers! Help us be reckless with love, laying down our lives as servants.
Plant: Read John 12:24-32
 
Water:
 Enter it: This reading takes place just a little before Jesus was crucified.He knows all the pain he was about to suffer for us, but he goes ahead anyway because of how much he loves us and his Father! Then God shouts from heaven, telling Jesus that he is doing the right thing. How do you think Jesus felt when he heard his Father’s voice?
Apply it: Jesus taught that our lives are like seeds: in order to bear fruit, a seed has to look like it’s gone for good, lost and buried in the ground! But then it bursts forth into wonderful fruit. Sometimes, in order to love people well, it can look like we have to lose what we need. Are there any ways that God is inviting you to love that look hard or painful? How can you trust God and love in this situation?

 
Weed:
 Was there a time today when you had the opportunity to love and it cost you something to do so? How did you do? Was it hard? What happened?