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.
- Watch this video to see how to set up a prayer space in your home.
- For a short tutorial on how to read the Bible to children, watch this video.
- And for how to wonder about God using the Scriptures, watch this video.
“I will recount the merciful love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness...which he has granted according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
What great goodness God has granted to us!
How can we tell of the merciful love of the Lord?
“O that you would tear the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known...and that the nations might tremble at your presence!”
Can you imagine God coming in his mighty power? Do you think it would make the mountains shake and all the people tremble in amazement?
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth...be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create...The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the Lord.”
I wonder what the new heavens and the new earth will be like?
Can you imagine a place where no one ever got hurt?
“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants.”
How does your mother comfort you? I wonder how God comforts us?
“An angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
I wonder how Joseph felt when he heard this amazing news…
How will Jesus save his people?
Friday, December 11 -
Parents: The Family plan is going to take a turn here. Since this is the season of Advent when we focus most intently on God's promise to come to his people our readings are going to shift away from the Gospel of Matthew to the Gospel of Luke. This book focuses on the events immediately before Jesus' birth so to build up some anticipation for the fulfillment of God's promise.
To the children: "As we get ready for Christmas, would you like to hear the story of when Jesus first started to grow in his mother’s womb? God sent an angel to Mary to tell her some amazing news. Let’s listen to what happened when the angel came…
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Jospeh, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”
What did you hear? [reflect based on their responses]
I wonder what it means to be full of grace?
Do these words sound familiar: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”?
Tomorrow we’ll hear more of the story.
Saturday, December 12 -
Yesterday we heard how the angel Gabriel came to Mary. Let's listen to the amazing news that he gave to her.
Luke 1:28 - 31
“And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus."
What did you hear? [Reflect with them based on their responses. Depending on age, you can explain what "bear a son" means.]
What name did the angel say Mary was to give to her baby?
Jesus. Mary must have wondered who this baby would be, that God would send an angel to tell her he was coming!
Sunday, December 13 -
What did the angel tell Mary she should name her baby? Jesus. Let’s hear who the angel says Jesus will be.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’”
What did you hear? [Reflect based on responses.]
A throne is the seat where a king sits and a kingdom is the place that a king leads and takes care of. I
wonder what it means that Jesus’ kingdom will have no end?