Messages from Angels

Each time your child takes a Bible Quest in Guardians of Ancora, there’s a collection of activities, games and things to make and do together, all of which extend and expand the in-game fun beyond the app. Look through this collection and choose one or more ideas to help your family discover more about ‘Messages from Angels’.

Here are some great questions to start you chatting about any Bible Quest:

  • What sort of thing has this Bible Quest reminded you of, that you knew before?
  • What new things have you discovered, as you’ve played this Bible Quest?
  • Is there anything you’re going to keep thinking about, from the Quest?

New activity ideas are added for each Bible Quest, as well several collections of activities about prayer, stories and so on. Look out for more Family Activity downloads, as your child plays more Bible Quests.

A quick introduction to spiritual styles

Family activities from Guardians of Ancora are devised to inspire varied ways of knowing God:  four distinct avenues for connecting with him through word, emotion, symbol, and action. These ‘spiritual styles’ are broad approaches to spirituality and faith, through which children experience God and make sense of their lives in the world around them.

If you want to find out more about spiritual styles, this article is a helpful introduction to a fascinating topic:

http://www.faithformationlearningexchange.net/uploads/5/2/4/6/5246709/saturation_spirituality-creating_environmentsthatnurtureallchildren_-_csinos.pdf

Christmas people prayers

Bible link

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:1–12; Luke 1:26–56; 2:1–7

What you need:

the figures from a nativity set

What you do:

Look out for a sturdy nativity set with moveable figures so it can be assembled, added to, held and played with. You could make some characters as a craft activity together.

Let your children become familiar with the figures, as they play with them.

Use the figures as a focus for prayers, to help you all discover that God uses ordinary people to do surprising things for him. Let the children choose a figure to hold and say their own words to God or use these ideas:

  •        Hold the Mary figure and pray: “Thank you, God, that Mary looked after baby Jesus, fed him and kept him warm.”
  •        Hold the Joseph figure and pray: “Thank you, God, that Joseph kept his family safe.”
  •        Hold an angel and pray: “Thank you, God, that your angels came to let everyone know that Jesus had been born.”
  •        Hold an innkeeper figure and pray: “Thank you, God, that the innkeeper was able to offer some shelter for the baby. Even though it was only a stable, it was much better than nothing at all.”
  •        Hold a shepherd and pray: “Thank you, God, that when the shepherds heard the good news they came to see Jesus and told other people about him.”
  •        Hold a wise man and pray: “Thank you, God, for the wise people who travelled a very long way to find Jesus. Thank you that the wise people never gave up, even when their journey was hard.”
  •        Hold the baby and pray: “Thank you, God, that by becoming a baby, Jesus knows what our lives are like.”

Make up similar prayers to go with any other figures in the set: you may have a star, a stable and animals.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Advent-box prayers

Bible link

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:1–12; Luke 1:26–56; 2:1–7

What you need:

five boxes that fit into one another, with plenty of space in which to include these items: a male finger puppet or small-world toy; a sheet of paper, rolled up like a scroll with words written on it; something to symbolise John the Baptist; a female finger puppet or small-world character; a baby Jesus from a nativity set

What you do:

This is an activity for during the month before Christmas, when we remember how God prepared the way for Jesus to come into the world.

Prepare a set of boxes beforehand. The idea is to open and unpack one box each week through Advent, with the last box to be opened on (or very close to) Christmas Day. Check the date of Advent for this year! Make sure there is enough space around each box for the “surprise” item.

On the first Sunday in Advent (four Sundays before Christmas Day), invite a child to open the lid of the first box and take out whatever is in it. This could be a finger puppet or small-world character. This represents one of God’s special people, like Abraham, who listened to God and did what God said.

Pray that, like Abraham, you will all follow God and continue to be friends with him.

On the second Sunday in Advent, open the second box. This time the item represents God’s messengers, the prophets. Take out a sheet of paper rolled up like a scroll. Unroll it to find that there are words written on it. Explain that the prophets were the people God used to speak to his people. The prophets told God’s people how to live God’s way. Sometimes God’s people got things wrong, so the prophets told them how to put things right again. Sometimes God’s people lived God’s way. Then the prophets helped them see how happy God made them. Ask God to help you live his way and be happy.

On the third Sunday in Advent, open the third box to find something about John the Baptist. Explain that John was Jesus’ cousin. He got things ready for Jesus by talking to the people about him. Look in the box to find something to represent John: a picture of him; a piece of fur fabric (John wore rough clothing made of animal skins); or a pot of honey or a plastic insect (because John lived on the natural food available in the desert regions). Pray that God will use each person in the group to help other people meet Jesus.

On the last Sunday in Advent, open the fourth box and find a finger puppet or small-world toy to represent Mary. Thank God that Mary accepted what the angel told her. God wanted her to have a baby boy. The baby would be God’s Son. Pray: “Help us, Lord, to listen to what you say to us. Help us, like Mary, to do what you ask us to do.”

On, or near, Christmas Day, open the final box to discover a figure of baby Jesus (perhaps from a nativity set). Thank God that he used lots of different people to prepare the way for Jesus. Ask God to use you to show others the way to Jesus.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Advent candles

Bible link

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:1–12; Luke 1:26–56; 2:1–7

What you need:

an “Advent ring” with five candles

matches and tapers

What you do:

Each Sunday between Advent Sunday and Christmas Day, light the candles on an Advent ring. The traditional way is to light one candle each Sunday through Advent and then the last one on Christmas Day (or work out five occasions when you can pause other activity and focus on the Advent candles).

Be safety conscious about where you place the candles, supervising the lighting and keeping the children at a safe distance while still giving them the opportunity to wonder at the mystery of what you are doing.

Devise a short, responsive prayer to say each time you light the candles. Say your prayer with an enthusiastic rhythm. For instance:

We’re lighting this candle for Christmas-time:

Thank you, God, for Christmas-time.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Christmas candles

Bible link

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:1–12; Luke 1:26–56; 2:1–7

What you need:

a tall pillar candle

tea lights or small candles

matches and long tapers

What you do:

Candles and children can be a risky combination, so think and plan carefully before you use this activity. (Never leaves candles unattended and make sure that you can put them out easily. Have a small jug of water nearby.) Always make sure candles are on a flat and fireproof surface (metal, foil, glass or china, for example).The image of a lighted candle is memorable and will fascinate the children, so it is worth the effort!

Say that Jesus came as a light, shining in the darkness. Jesus came to show people how to live. If we follow Jesus, he shows us the right direction to take. He is like a light for us.

Light the large candle.

Choose one person to lead this prayer, while everyone watches the flame and joins in the repeated lines.

God sent a special star in the Christmas story to point the way to Jesus.

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a small candle or tea light with a taper.)

The star was like God’s map to help people find the right direction.

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a candle.)

When we’re not sure where we are going,

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a candle.)

When things go wrong,

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a candle.)

When life is good,

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a candle.)

Thank you, Jesus, for being the light in our world.

Help us to follow your light.

(Light a candle.)

As we look at these lights, we remember that you are always with us.

Look at the candles in quiet for a few moments, before extinguishing the flames.

Repeat the activity and prayer another time, with someone else leading the prayer.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Family tree

Bible link

Luke 1:26–38

What you need:

family photos and/or older relatives

What you do:

Mary is engaged to Joseph. A famous king is in Joseph’s ancestry: King David (the same David who killed Goliath before he grew up to become king). Mary has a relative who is also pregnant. Who is in your family tree?

Spend some time with your child looking at some old photos and sharing stories from your ancestors. Invite an older relative to tell some family history stories too.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Angels and messengers

Bible link

Luke 1:26–38

What you need:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3F5OvADbo0

What you do:

The word “angel” in the Bible simply means messenger.

Watch the Horrible Histories YouTube clip explaining messengers in the time of Jesus. The same word was used for these human messengers (“angelus”) as for messengers from God.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Angel envelopes

Bible link

Luke 1:26–38

What you need:

envelopes, paper, markers, feathers, glue, glitter (optional)

What you do:

Encourage your child to make “Angel envelopes” by gluing feathers to an envelope to create an unusual effect. Add glitter or decorations to make the envelope look special.

Suggest that they choose some family members, neighbours or friends who might need or appreciate a special message of good news or hope.

Help your child write a simple letter to put in the envelope and deliver.

Sample message:

“Dear friend… This is a message of Christmas hope and joy for you!”

You could combine this with making Christmas cards for family and friends.

This activity will encourage children with symbol- and action-centred approaches to knowing God.

“King-ka-ching” game

Bible link

Luke 1:26–38

What you need:

the words of Luke 1:26–38 (if possible one copy for each person in your household)

a toy/cardboard crown (optional)

What you do:

Combine reading the story from Luke 1:26–38 with a game.

Explain to the players that any time the word “king” or “kingdom” or “rule” or “power” (any word to do with being a king) comes up in the story, the first person to call “King-ka-ching!” can give a kingly command to the other players which they must perform before the story continues.

If you have a toy crown, this person wears the crown until the next “King-ka-ching”, when they pass it to the next “king”.

Sample commands could include:

  •        all curtsey to me
  •        sing two lines of the national anthem
  •        be my court jester and tell a joke
  •        carry me on your back like a horse
  •        form yourselves into a human throne that I can sit on
  •        act like a chicken for my amusement.

This activity will involve children with word- and action-centred approaches to knowing God.

Names and meanings

Bible link

Matthew 1:18–25

What you need:

a baby names website or book

What you do:

The story in Matthew 1:18–25 gives the meanings for two of the names  for Jesus. Challenge your child to see if they can find them (Jesus – “the Lord saves” and Immanuel – “God with us”).

Suggest that they use the baby names website or book to look up the names of people in your household, including themselves, to find out the meanings of the names.

Do we live up to our names?

As your child finds out more about Jesus in Guardians  of Ancora, this could be a good question to keep asking: “How does Jesus live up to the meanings of his names?”

This activity will involve children with word- and action-centred approaches to knowing God.

Prayers in darkness

Bible link

Isaiah 9:2–7

What you need:

night-time!

a bright torch

the words of Isaiah 9:2–7

What you do:

Years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah spoke about what it would be like when he came. Isaiah described it like this: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

Read a bit of this with your child.

Challenge your child, and other household members who want to join in, to try and walk through part of the house with you in the dark.

Then chat about how that feels and what happens – it can be dangerous; we might bump into things, get lost or feel afraid…

Then repeat the challenge to walk through the dark room, but turn the torch on and hold it facing upwards.

Chat about the difference a great light makes.

Finish with some dark and light prayers…

“Dear God, please shine your great light for everyone, especially for people whose lives are full of darkness, who are afraid, or in danger. Amen.”

This activity will motivate children with emotion- and symbol- and action-centred approaches to knowing God.

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