All children age 3 through 5th grade are invited to join us online for Love First at Home — Sunday mornings from 10:00 – 11:00 on Zoom.  One-time registration is required. We will continue online as long as we are worshiping from home. Please note the slightly earlier start time than our traditional Sunday School.  As soon as it’s safe to gather again, Love First will move to in-person small groups on Sunday mornings all summer in our beautiful new Formation and Arts Building.

Whether you are joining us online or are “Zoomed out,” we encourage you to engage in Love First at Home as a family.  Choose from any or all of these simple steps that fit your family best:

Centering
Choose one or several of these ideas, but consistency will be comforting for children: Several deep breaths, body prayer*, ringing a chime or bell, twenty seconds of silence.

Hearing
Read the day’s story or watch the day’s video together.

Responding
Discuss the story or video through the lens, mirror, and window of Love using the Love First Lectio handout discussion questions.

Praying
Pray together in your own words or by Praying in Color.

Praising
Watch our heartbeat theme song video and have a dance party!

Blessing
Bless one another.  Don’t forget to let children bless you, too!

*Body prayer: Reach arms up high and say, “I praise you God.”  Place hands on heart and say, “God, help me let your love into my heart.” Reach hands out wide and say, “God, help me to be minister to others.” Touch toes and say, “God, help me to rest.” Bring hands to a praying position and say, “Amen” followed by a deep breath.

Love Self, Session 1: Who did Jesus love?

May 3, 2020

We began our Love Self heartbeat with the story of The Healing of the Paralyzed Man and the Call of Matthew (Matthew 9:2-13). Again and again, Jesus comes near to those who are on the edges of society, those who are ignored or shunned, and shows them love. Jesus shows us that even though we might not feel lovable or loved, we are, in fact, always loved by God, and so is everyone else. It is not for us to judge who is worthy of love.God has already decided that all are worthy.  Read the storyboard together, and discuss the kind of love you see in the story using the Love First lectio guide.

Story

Story: The Healing of the Paralyzed Man

Copyright Love First Resources LLC

 

Love Self, Session 2: Family

May 10, 2020

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and configurations may change over time. What makes a family isn’t who is in it, but the love that’s between them. We watched the story of Cole and Stephen, and talked about the love they share – love that makes them family. And we explored how we might give and receive this kind of love.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  – Desmond Tutu

Love Self, Session 3: How do you love yourself?

May 17, 2020

Jesus was once asked which of the commandments are the most important. He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  – Matthew 22:34-40

In order to see the God-given lovability in all people, we must first see it in ourselves. Sometimes we are kinder to other people than we are to ourselves. Sometimes we focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves, or we compare ourselves to other people and feel like we are not enough. When we do this, the words we say to ourselves (even if we don’t say them out loud) aren’t loving. And this makes it difficult to say loving words to other people. Loving yourself well takes practice.

Together, watch the video The Reflection in Me. Then make a list of things you love about yourself, and say them out loud. Next, find someone in your home, and tell them at least one thing you love about them. See how it feels inside, and how it makes others feel. Loving others well, and being a good friend, starts with loving yourself.  We have to work to see ourselves and others in this way, but God sees us this way all the time.  God’s love never fails, and God’s love is for all people.  Love self — All people are lovable in the eyes of God. No exceptions.

A blessing for you today:  May you keep growing stronger, wiser, kinder, and ever more ready to serve, always knowing how much you are loved by this church family and by the very same God who by the Word and through the Spirit creates, redeems, and sanctifies us all. Amen.

Love Self, Session 4: Empathy Across Differences

May 24, 2020

This session introduced the basic concept of empathy (the concept of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” in order to share or understand the feelings of another person), as well as the universality of love – that all people are lovable regardless of the many differences between us (geography, culture, heritage, race, privilege, religion, etc.).

We watched two short videos and discussed how they might help us to see the lovability in others.  After watching I am Human, we talked about what all humans have in common. We are all doing the best we can – we make mistakes, and we all can start again.  We have dreams, feel sad sometimes, and find joy in friendships. Each of us is one of billions, but also unique. When you have empathy for someone, it is a special kind of love that says you care about them so much, you want to share in their life.  If they are sad, you can help them carry their sadness. If they are happy, you can be happy together. If they make a mistake, you can offer understanding and them start anew.

Then we watched the short film, Five. This video shows five children getting ready to worship. The children live in different parts of the world – the United States, South Africa, Iran, Japan, and India. And they are worshiping in five different religions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu – which means they believe different things about God, and they have different scriptures to guide their lives, and they worship differently. But some things are the same. Each of these religions teaches that we should treat others fairly, the way we would want to be treated. Each of the children prays, tries their best to be good, and believes there is more to life than what we can see.  Every child wants to be play and to be loved.  We talked about how we can honor differences, and also see our common humanity. 

God always sees the lovability in all people and knows what it is like to be them. It takes practice for us to see others this way, but we have a wonderful teacher in Jesus. The way of Jesus is to offer mercy and compassion to all, and to see the lovability in all people, especially those who are different from us. In fact, Jesus’ living among us was the ultimate act of  empathy – God putting God’s self in our shoes. 

A blessing for you today:  May you keep growing stronger, wiser, kinder, and ever more ready to serve, always knowing how much you are loved by this church family and by the very same God who by the Word and through the Spirit creates, redeems, and sanctifies us all. Amen.

Remember, all people are lovable in the eyes of God. No exceptions. 

The Storyboard, Love First Lectio and Love First names are copyrighted by Love First Resources, LLC