KB Categories Archives: Ancient-Future Children

10 Tithings Around the Table: A Devotional Guide for the Journey

Connie Bull: One tenth of a year is about every 36 days.  Welcome to the journey of tithing our time!  If we are indeed to bring all the tithes into the storehouse (Mal. 3:10), then we need to include the tithe of our time, for each day is a day the Lord has made (Ps. 118:24).

In this devotional set, you will find scriptures and feet-to-the-faith activities and the liturgical color to guide you through each of the 10 tithe segments of the year.  How do you most need to be challenged personally and corporately, as an intentional member of Christ’s body?  A service of communion at the end of each 36 day segment will be your chance to stop and meditate on your progress toward the goal(s) you chose:  a personal spiritual formation trek, a family missional projects, or a church community outreach focus.  Make a visual reminder by using the liturgical color in a family table centerpiece or family altar. The cycle here begins 36 days from Christmas Eve, but you may choose any day closest to your current “today.”  Blessings to your journey!

Tithe 1

December 24, 2017 to January 31, 2018 [White]

When counting 36 days from Christmas Eve, we arrive at January 31st. Some families of faith celebrate Human Relations Sunday in January. Christ’s call is to go into all the world and look into people’s hearts, not at the color of their skin or the many ways in which you may differ. Reaching the world with grace is not about judgment first, but humility. The widow humbly gave her tithe even though she herself was in need. Not many Sunday School units are on tithing except for the lesson on the widow’s mite.  Take time now to read Luke 21:1-4.  Tithe is taken from the word tenth. Tithing is not only money. It also encompasses the act of becoming the body of Christ by doing His work— exemplifying leitourgia, or liturgy— a work of the people.

Create a special offering the children themselves could take up during the service—an offering of dimes, Dimes of Devotion.  The dime being a unit of 10 will help in communicating to give monies to God as well as giving to God the tenth of the year it represents.

Words to the worship leader: The children’s “dime time” does not have to take up an extra allowance of time in the service. It could be done after the Opening of the Word during the prelude, during the choral anthem, or as a response to the scripture.  The children’s Sunday School classes could rotate as ushers to take up these “Dimes of Devotion.” The children could then decide with their teachers how the collective money will be spent— ten different charities or one single one, etc., or in the case of older classes, meet to buy school supplies for needy children or toiletries, etc. with the monies closer to the last tithe, Christmas Eve.

Tithe 2

January 31, 2018 to March  8, 2018 [Purple]

The Season of Lent— “Lent” comes from the Old

English “lencten” or “lengthen” because the days would continually  get longer as spring approached.  The Early Church used this time as 40 days of devotion (not counting Sundays) before Easter.  Some people take something out of their diet or habit so that when you miss it, you are prompted to realize Christ’s sacrifice for you.  Others add something to their daily routine.  Since we are in the middle of that period of self-reflection, focus on tithing the days remaining days of Lent by 1] planting a seed and taking a picture of it every three days until Easter to show its slow growth. Print out the pictures and make a devotional display for your home or for display at church or 2] creating a poster with 40 “footprints” in a winding path.  On each footprint, write the name of someone whose example you are thankful for along your journey and with their name, write one of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 that they possess and helped you to nurture in yourself. Sometimes the leitourgia, work of the people of God, is the walk of the people of God.

Tithe 3

March 8 to April 13, 2018 [White]

Season of Eastertide
In this season of celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and appearances to his followers before his ascension, it is a good time to tithe our presence as Christ’s countenance in the lives of those who cannot come to church as often to experience the presence of Christ among the family of God.

In the next 36 days, select six people who are either in the hospital or a nursing home, or get on the volunteer list to serve food in a shelter in your area.  As you visit with someone, you communicate blessing and make them feel like they belong and are not alone.  One of the most often quoted verses and scripture songs sung is “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” from Numbers 6:26.  If we examine the text, though, there is a paradox that often goes unnoticed: the Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace.  If the Lord is to lift up his countenance, then his face could possibly be ….below.  If you begin thinking of how Jesus’ face would be looking upward to see yours, you realize it suggests servanthood and sacrifice….when he bent down to write in the sand before granting forgiveness to the accused woman, when he was washing the disciples’ feet, when he fell beneath the weight of the cross.  Find a way to be a blessing every six days and lift up your countenance from the position of servanthood in Christ’s name.

Tithe 4

April 13 to May 19, 2018 [Red]

Season of Pentecost

In this season of the Christian year, or the life of Christ throughout the calendar year, we celebrate the empowerment of Christ’s followers by the Holy Spirit, the pouring out of God’s power upon the Church.  Read again Acts 2:1-18.  God’s gift of empowerment was through languages to communicate his plan of salvation to the world. Pentecost was a celebration 50 days (pente = five) after Passover.  In Hebrew tradition, it was to commemorate God giving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai 50 days after the Exodus.  God in His wisdom knew that the time to empower believers was when they were already gathered and when the world’s peoples could hear their message. God’s gift of the Commandments was given that followers of God would have foundational ideas on how to please God and live honoring the gift of life in community.  Jesus became the living example and was sacrificed as the Lamb at Passover in order to save us from our reckless selfishness with our lives. God’s Holy Spirit was given 50 days after to help us communicate that God’s love is more than obeying the 10 commandments; the everlasting covenant fulfills the laws with love. Look up on Google translate the way to say “God bless you” or “God cares for you” in a number of languages from all the continents (BTW: The scientists in the research station in Antarctica speak Spanish!)  Take a screenshot or create a display with 3×5 cards at your church. Pray for the

Spirit’s guidance to speak love and life in word and deed. There is a version of the Lord’s Prayer with motions for each phrase.  If you can teach the motions to all present, everyone can pray in silence but in unison. Embodied Lord’s Prayer.

You might even ask your church leadership to partner with other bodies of believers in your area who worship in different languages and celebrate communion together or teach them the motions to the embodied Lord’s prayer and pray in silence together.

Tithe 5

May 19 to June 24, 2018 [Green]
In this next 36 days, make it a goal to memorize six verses, one every six days. Write them on your mirrors or on cards to place at often visited focal locations in your house.  Begin by studying the fruits of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23 or The Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-12.  Identify three qualities that you struggle to exemplify.  Choose two verses that would help you in these three areas. You might even find a song that helps you remember the verses or look on hymnary.org or wordtoworship.com for songs that are based on your target verses.  Read II Timothy 2:15 and encourage one another.

Tithe 6

June 24 to July 30, 2018 [Green]
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost—emphasize the “ten” Sundays after the celebration of the empowerment of the Church through the Holy Spirit and have a “testimony times and dimes” aspect of the worship service as to how their journey  has been impacted so far through viewing the days in the year as the tithing of time.  Read Psalm 66:16-20 and rejoice with one another.

Share your verses with one another from Tithe 5 to keep them fresh in your memory.

Tithe 7

July 30 to September 5, 2018 [Green]
16th Sunday after Pentecost–next day is Labor Day.  With intentionality, there is a way to highlight the importance of Christ’s life events as a focal sacred observance on an otherwise secular day, Labor Day, by giving the dimes of devotion to a cause working to eradicate child labor. God tells us children and adults alike will stand before Him on the merit of their own choices. “For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me.  Ezekiel 18:4 (NIV)  We are also given the just cause of speaking up for those who have no voice.  Read James 1:27 and pray for the world’s children and the world’s working poor.  As a more personal ministry, deliver baked goods to police and fire departments with thank you notes for the good they do.

What would you have to give up to receive the empowering Gift of the King to join him in that work?

Tithe 8

October 7: World Communion Sunday [Green]

Our 36 days ends at Oct. 11 but rejoicing in communion with believers all around the world on the first Sunday of October is a privileged opportunity. Read anew the story of blessing for all God’s children: Mark 10:2-16. If possible, have family members take on the roles of people in the account.

In Jesus’ day, a tradition was already in place for the blessing of both boys and girls—but it required preparation.  Children up to 12 years old would prepare for to be blessed on the Jewish Day of Atonement by fasting (not eating) and prayer. Children up to one year of age would fast until daybreak.  Children up to 12 years old would fast until sundown, and then be taken to the elders for a blessing.

Some biblical scholars have suggested that the reason the disciples began turning the children away is because they were uncertain that the children were properly prepared or that it was not the Day of Atonement.  Some have also suggested that the disciples felt indignant because Jesus had not even blessed his own adult followers yet, and in that day, adults came before children in importance.

Jesus was not simply blessing the children to be seen in a good light like many politicians do when running for office.  Jesus was re-enacting Jacob’s blessing of his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the boys born to Joseph by his Egyptian wife.  Let the story live again and pause to read it now:  Gen. 48: 1-20.

In the blessing, Jacob adopted the grandson’s into the inheritance of God’s chosen people.  It was an act of unconditional acceptance and belonging.

Today we celebrate together at the Lord’s Table and the bond of Jesus’ adoption of all Christians all over the globe into God’s family.  For the tithe of the next 36 days, take the challenge to become more global in your daily prayers of intercession as an individual or as a family.  Here’s one way.

1) Look up the following website.

http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/Reverse-Lookup.php?calling-code=876

(You can also look in the front pages of a local phone book for the numbers that correspond with a great number of countries.)

2) Look on the left side bar and click “reverse look-up”.  If you scroll down, it should give you a place to look up numbers from 1-999.  Choose (or take turns in the family) a number and look up which country belongs with or is closest to that number.

3) Pray for the Christians in that country to be strong under persecution and bold in their words and deeds for Christ.  Pray for those who will encounter the presence of Christ through a believer’s example today.

4) Repeat tomorrow and choose a different country.  You may also want to look up ministries related to that country and pray for the stamina, health, and peace of those who are working for the cause of Christ.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower all believers to become more like Christ (Rev. 5:12).—strong, gentle, generous, and wise—so that together we all as adopted, unified family may walk with Christ in honor, glory, and blessing.

Tithe 9

November 25: Christ the King Sunday—[Gold]

The emphasis of this season is on the Heavenly Banquet and preparing to be ready in service for His return. Christ the King Sunday encourages our hearts to look forward to the day when every day is like Easter, and Jesus is indeed and forevermore enthroned on the praises of God’s people. Take time now to read Rev. 1:4-8.  Try this with your gathering: If you make a circle holding hands and then raise all hands, it makes a physical symbol of a crown. Pray that the King will be enthroned in the hearts of those gathered and that Christ’s peace will reign in their hearts whatever the current circumstance.  Pray for those who are in positions of government across the world as well as locally.

Some activities to help you tithe the next 36 days will take you into the season of Advent when we travel the faith journey in worship looking forward to Christ’s birth and the Promise of God’s greatest blessing to the world.

Enthrone the King who came as a helpless babe by selecting one of the following Psalms to read each day. As you read your daily Psalm, keep a record of the acts of salvation, deeds of mercy, works of creation, words of wisdom, or everlasting glory that causes the psalmist to praise the LORD.

Keep a record in those five categories and add a reason to praise of your own life experience or your heart’s overflowing.

Where can you find the LORD at work today locally or globally in acts of salvation, deeds of mercy, works of creation or words of wisdom?  (Psalm 132:12-18)

Tithe 10

December 24, 2018: Christmas Eve Communion [White]

 As we come to this last tithing of our time, give thanks through the four songs of the Nativity:  the Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55), the song of Zechariah Luke 1:67-79, The Song of the Angels (Luke 2:14), and Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32).  Here are songs that represent the work of God through all life situations:  the song of a man who has no voice until he gives way to God’s will in his life and for his family, the song of a woman who willingly gives way to God’s will in her life even though it will mean giving up her reputation and her home to become a refugee, the song of angels heard by some average third-shift workers (shepherds) whose lives are forever changed as they put feet to their faith and go when and where God tells them to go, and the song of a man who can now rest that God has kept a promise that the future will be full of hope.  Which story is most like your journey right now?  Praise the Lord whose hope is born anew in all and through you to all.

Revisit the verses you memorized half-way through the year and pray for strength to continue rebirthing those verses as you continue to unwrap the gift of Christ within you this next year.

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Weaving Children and Teens into Worship Leadership

Connie Bull:

Question: How is it that we embrace children professing their faith in Jesus the one who died for them and yet they are not usually included in services where they sing of Christ crucified…or help crush palms into ashes… or where they assist Good Friday in taking away the altar décor and drape the cross in black? Is it that we as adults want to “protect” them from the cruelty that was the crucifixion, or are we preventing the children from participating as a part of the body of Christ and using them for our own enjoyment?

Throughout history, children have been regarded in various ways from warmly to warily.  David Lancy, in his book The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings lists three:  the cherub who is overly romanticized and can do no wrong, the “children should be seen and not heard” chattel idea of children as completely unworthy in the presence of adults, and the suspicious idea of children and teens as so mercurial and unpredictable that they cannot be trusted.  I would add one more way I have seen children and teens treated within the church: as cheerleaders.  We bring them out only at times of the year that are joyful like Advent, Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter so that we can smile and applaud them. We do not necessarily applaud each time an adult reads scripture or sings as if it is a performance and not a participation in God’s message of the day….

Want to read the rest of Connie’s wonderful work? Please click the “Read More” link below.

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Will You Ask the Blessing? Blessing in Spirit and in Truth

Dr. Connie C. Bull:

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen. –John O’Donohue, Irish poet & priest (1956-2008)

Will you offer the blessing?  We hear this phrase often at mealtime, even perhaps daily. If we pause to consider, though, we realize that blessing is not only connected to meals. Throughout the Bible, blessing is connected to belonging.[1] Our common speech patterns, however, do not imply belonging when we are quick to say “Bless his heart” or “Lord, bless her” when speaking of a personality flaw in someone. Instead, we are covertly lying to hide the disdain we feel under the surface.  Thus, we have twisted the biblical meanings what it is to bless; blessings are to be prayers for deliverance and a “made-new worldview” as we bless in Jesus’ name, our Deliverer.

The Old Testament uses nine different meanings of the term “bless” including greeting/leavetaking in peace, prevailing power over enemies, wisdom, prosperity, benediction, transfer of power, respect, praise, and thanksgiving.  In the New Testament, Christ embodies these, and blesses into belonging both young and old in His ministry. Jesus’ last earthly act was blessing (Luke 24:51)—a ministry for more than church staff, but rather for all Christ’s followers to continue.

[1] Claus Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church, trans. Keith Crim (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 19.

Want to read the rest of Connie’s wonderful work? Please click the “Read More” link below.

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Choosing Children Weekly in Worship— Part 1: Gathering

Connie C. Bull:

Henri Nouwen reminds us that “person” in English is fashioned from the Latin words “per” and “sonare”— literally,  a person is a “sounding through.”  Children are persons, though not always in history were they acknowledged so.  According to Deut. 29:10-12, God required children to be present to establish His covenant: (10)All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, (11)together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps…(12) You are standing here in order to enter a covenant with the LORD your God…

Worship in Spirit and in truth is about God sounding through all who worship, regardless of age.  If we are to cease the worship war and calm the roar of the lions amid our lambs, Isaiah 11:5-7 assures us that  “a little child shall lead them.”

How can children lead in the worship elements of the Gathering of God’s people to worship?  Let us count the ways! (more…)

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Children and the Call to the Ancient-Future Church

 

Connie Bull:

Across the years, the ages have had different views of life’s beginning stages.  David F. Lancy, professor of world civilizations and cultural anthropology at Utah State University, identifies three of these views of children:  cherubs, chattel, and changelings.

  • Chattel: the view of those who want children “seen and not heard” because they are little more than a nuisance, devoid of value until after puberty.
  • Cherubs:  the view of those who overly romanticize childhood; children are to be appreciated from a maudlin, sentimental standpoint; and cherished only for their “cute” factor.
  • Changelings:  the view of those suspicious of what children are “up to”; children are seen as devious, untrustworthy, mercurial, and almost alien in nature.

There are yet two other views of children in the latter 20th century which are being threaded into today’s various worship tapestries: (more…)

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