Sorry, apparently I have forgotten to post this. My apologies for running late.
For more information on Advent, see my previous post on the Family Advent Wreath. These meditations are for the weekly lighting of the Advent Wreath candles, so allow for more time for discussion. December 2, 2012, First week of Advent
Light the candle you lit last week and say, "we light this candle to remind us that our hope is in Jesus."
This week we will be talking about love. The children may have many different understanding of love. You may ask them what they love. We love chocolate and puppies, but it isn't the same as the love we have for our friends. And we love family differently than we love our friends. You might discuss with your children the different forms of love: romantic love, family love, brotherly/sisterly love, friendly love, and love of things.
For Discussion with your children:
What is "love?"
Who or what do you love?
Do you love _______________ (name a toy, food, activity, or any other non-person)?
Do you love _______________ (same as above) the same way you love mommy and daddy?
What is the difference?
Do you know that God loves you? (Most likely they will answer "yes," after all, they will assume, unless they have guilt issues,* that they are loved by pretty much everyone.)
Do you know how much God loves you?
Scripture Reading: John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
Information: Last week we learned that the people were hoping for God to send a Messiah, someone to save them. Here in John the scripture tells us that God did send someone, God's own Son, because God loves us so much. And it wasn't like God was sending someone to scold them or tell them how bad they were and they needed to do better, but to simply tell them how much God loves and how they can have a better relationship with God.
Many times we feel that we God is trying to trick us. Kids can get this idea when they hear language like, "God is testing me." Tests are tricky and even if you study, sometimes you don't always do very well. Especially if they feel they don't know the right answers, they can become fearful of God or dread "the test." But in John, we are told that we did not receive the gift of the Son to be 'condemned.' Obviously, people weren't passing the test, they needed a tutor!
We can share with children how much God loves them by setting it in such a way that they will understand. "You know how much mommy and daddy love you?" (Yes) "Well, when you do something wrong to do we still love you?" (Yes - or you can assure them that is the case.) "Well, God loves you even more than we do and that's a lot. So much that only God could ever love you more than we do."
"Now, you love mommy and daddy, right?" (Yes.) And because you love mommy and daddy, you want to do what they ask right?" (Yes) "This is called being obedient. We love God so much, that we want to do what God wants from us. It makes us happy to please God."
This is the relationship Jesus came to bring. A loving relationship in which we love and do what God wants, and know that God loves us and blesses us.
God loves us more than anyone. More than our sisters or brothers. More than our grandma or grandpa. More than mommy and daddy. And that's a lot. God loves us so much that God sent someone who helped us to have a good relationship with God. This person was Jesus, who was born as a little baby, and couldn't even feed himself, but relied on his mommy Mary and daddy Joseph.
Light the second purple or blue candle. (For information on the order, please see last week's post.) Please make sure there is adult supervision for any child using matches or a lighter to light the candle. Also, please supervise your child as long as the candle is lit.
Prayer: Thank you God for loving us so much. Thank you for the people you sent to teach us to love, like our moms an dads. We love you very much. Amen.
*If your child struggles with guilt, or whether or not they are worthy to be loved, I would recommend a book, You Wouldn't Love Me if You Knew by Jeannie St. John Taylor. In this book a little boy does something "bad" and feels guilty. In the end, his mother tells him that he is forgiven and that God forgives him also. You never know what the "bad" thing is, so all children can relate to his feelings. You may want to ask your children, what do you suppose the little boy did?