Too often during the school year there are more activities than there are days in the week for both parents and adults. This family night activity and devotion is designed to promote time of exploration and reflection, and can be done at home or on vacation or even during the over-scheduled times of life. No matter where you do it, or even when, be sure to allow this activity to take place naturally and don’t try to squeeze it in as another activity on the schedule.
Take a few minutes to go outside, either around your house or in a park. The more surrounded by nature, the better, but even a busy city street will work. Have everybody sit or stand and close their eyes and listen for a couple of minutes to all the activity taking place around them.
Next, invite everyone to tell a story about one of the sounds they heard and what the animal or person was doing making the sound. (For example, if you hear a bird chirping, maybe you can say it was the momma bird telling a story to get the baby birds prepared for bed.). The point of this story is not to be factual, but instead to invite all family members to express their creativity and imagination. Parents, it is especially important that you exemplify this. Also, keep the story from mocking or looking down on another person or animal, but focus more on doing something in obedience to how God created it to be and live.
This devotion will be focused more on what role every member of the family was created by God to serve within. Not every family is exactly the same, just as no two things in nature are exactly the same. We all serve different roles, but nonetheless are children of God called to serve Him in all we say and do, including within our own families.
Read Exodus 20:12. Ask, “Which commandment is this?” If you have a child currently in confirmation or has been through confirmation, ask them to recite or paraphrase Luther’s explanation to this commandment. Otherwise, read Luther’s explanation of this commandment from the Small Catechism.
How would this commandment apply to every person in our family? (For children they are to listen and obey to their parents. Parents are to teach their children the truth of God’s Word but also raise them accordingly and set the example.). This commandment applies to both parent and child, and continues as children grow older and become parents themselves, etc. Take a few minutes to explore the many different situations of everyday life where we obey or disobey this commandment and how that looks. Do you feel bad when you have disobeyed? Parents, do you feel like you aren’t giving your child your very best because of other stresses in life? Are you doing your best to raise them in their Christian faith? Children, and parents, are you joyfully learning and hearing the Word of God? Especially try to think about the roles of parents and children in the countless areas of life we experience every day. Does this commandment apply to the office or classroom? How? What about in a restaurant or gas station? Again parents, set the example for your children by being open and honest yourself. Also, if the children are having trouble coming up with their own ideas, provide a couple for them to get them going.
This commandment shows how our daily lives should reflect our relationship to God through His Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ relationship with His Father, we see how Jesus keeps this commandment and fulfills it: He both honored His mother Mary and earthly guardian Joseph, and also honored His heavenly Father, especially in submitting to His Father’s will in dying on the cross (e.g. Luke 2:40-52, 22:42). In this way, this commandment, as all of Scripture, also points to the Gospel, the good news of Jesus as our Savior. We aren’t going to live perfectly, but in Christ there is forgiveness so we can continue to serve with joy in the mercy of God. It is very similar in our families. We don’t always listen; we don’t always set the best example; we certainly don’t always show the love of God to each other. But, even in the midst of this, we remember that we are forgiven by God in Christ Jesus, and therefore, joyfully serve Him in all we say and do. This includes forgiving each other in our daily family life and trying to serve faithfully in our given family roles.
After a couple minutes of discussion pray as a family. You can say a prayer similar to this one: Heavenly Father, You created each and every one of us uniquely. You have given us talents, skills, passions, likes and dislikes, smiles, eyes, ears and all of our senses. We thank You for the family that You brought us into and the love that each of us has for one another. We pray that You continue to strengthen us as we live according to Your Word and serve You daily in our lives. Help us to always remember the love and mercy shown to us in Your Son Jesus Christ, that we can show that love to each other and to the world. In His name we pray, Amen.
Family Night Activity:
Take the rest of the evening as an opportunity to bond as a family, and to show the love of God to each other. Watch an appropriate movie. Use the moments that arise, even during cartoon movies, that might go against our faith and God’s Word to teach your children to think through these topics in a faithful manner. Or, play a board game, take a walk, ride your bikes, etc. You can even create a family calendar with family activities planned for every week, including family devotions. For many families, actually writing something down helps them keep to doing an activity. But, most importantly, make sure you set time aside, as a family, to relax and enjoy what God has put around us. Don’t over schedule yourself with family activities just to squeeze them in–use this time to just have fun together!