Family Resources for Bishop's Year of The Bible: Week 4

It can be challenging to know how to read the Scriptures for ourselves, let alone with young children. The key is believing that when we hear (or read) the Scriptures we can encounter Jesus Christ. He can be present to us. This was Bishop Boyea’s intention for initiating this Year of the Bible. But how can we help children encounter the Lord through his word, to wonder at God’s majesty and the amazing gifts he has given us? While they may not understand every word, children are often struck by the beauty of the words of Scripture and by imagery related to the world around them and the greatness and love of God. A meditative reading of a verse or two each day, along with a few contemplative questions can be the beginning of a lifetime of meditating on the word of God.

If you have a prayer corner in your home, you may wish to light a candle there before a sacred image. Or if your children are as wiggly as mine, a few minutes during breakfast or dinner can ensure a captive audience. Choose verses with striking images—like stars, animals, angels—or with glorious language praising God. Read from a real Bible if possible, not an app or a printout. After reading the verses aloud, pause, then ask a meditative question about the reading—I wonder what makes God’s word so sweet? or What is it like when a light shines in the darkness?

If even a short daily reading feels daunting, here’s an idea that has made it easy for us, despite a passel of squirrely boys: I recently heard of an old Jewish custom of giving children a taste of honey while reading the words of Scripture. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103) After incorporating this into our daily Scripture reading, my children now remind me each day that it’s time for “Honey and the Bible”!

It’s easy to underestimate a young child’s capacity for God, to think we need to wait till the age of reason when they can better understand. But these little ones have a tremendous capacity to wonder at God’s love and power and the gifts he’s given us. As they internalize the words of Scripture, they are laying a foundation for a lifetime of prayer and love for God.


Week 4

Sunday, December 20 — Luke 1:53–56

Let’s listen to the last part of Mary’s prayer:

“[God] has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity forever.
And Mary remained with [Elizabeth] about three months, and returned to her home.”

What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
What does it feel like to eat when you’re very hungry? I wonder what it means that God fills the hungry with good things? How does God help his servants?

Monday, December 21 – Isaiah 9:6

A long time before Jesus was born, God sent a message to his people through the prophet Isaiah. Let’s hear what he said about this child who would be born:

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
Who do you think this child will be? What names will he be called? I wonder what it means that he will be the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace...

Tuesday, December 22– Luke 2:4–7

Christmas is coming so soon! Today we’ll start to read the story of what happened on the very first Christmas, when Jesus was born.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when they first saw this tiny new baby about whom so many amazing things had been said. They must have wondered who he would grow to be, and what God had planned for him.

Wednesday, December 23 – Luke 2:8–12

Near to Bethlehem some shepherds were taking care of their sheep when they were surprised by the visit of an angel. Let’s hear what news the angel came to give:

“And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’”

What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
I wonder what the shepherds thought when an angel suddenly appeared to them, shining with God’s light? What was the good news of great joy the angel brought?

Thursday, December 24 – Christmas Eve — Luke 2:13–14

After the angel spoke the good news to the shepherds, they suddenly saw so many more angels with him — hundreds, or maybe even thousands of angels!

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
What did the multitude of angels say? Glory to God in the highest! Each Sunday at Mass, we praise God with these words, too. I wonder what it was like to see all those angels praising God together?

Friday, December 25 – Christmas — Luke 2:15–18

It’s Christmas Day! Today we celebrate the birthday of Jesus! Let’s listen to what happened on the very first Christmas – who was the first to celebrate this day?

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.”

What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
I wonder what the shepherds thought when they found the baby, just as the angel had said. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when they heard about the angels announcing his birth. They must have rejoiced together at this gift God had given!

Saturday, December 26 — Luke 2:19–20

Let’s hear what Mary did when she had heard the shepherd’s amazing story about the angels:

But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Mary pondered these things in her heart...she thought deeply about them. What things can we ponder in our hearts during this Christmas season? How can we glorify and praise God?


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