The story: Before class cut out paper hearts. Mark some "love God" with a cross, and some "love people" with stick figures holding hands, enough for each child to have one of each. Place the hearts at a high place in the classroom such as on top of a bookshelf.
After reviewing the Exodus story, climb a chair and table or ladder up to the hearts saying, God told Moses to go up a mountain. God's People stayed on the ground while Moses climbed up, up, up that mountain. At the top of the mountain God gave Moses something important. From the top of the "mountain" explain, God gave Moses some rules, some commandments, that tell us what God wants us to do and doesn't want us to do. God says "yes" to some things. Yes, obey Mommy and Daddy. Yes, go to church. God's commandments say "no" to some things. No, don't hurt people. No, don't take things that aren't yours. God's People had to follow these rules perfectly. These rules, these commandments, are God's Law. God tells us to follow these commandment rules, God's Law, too.
Climb down from the "mountain", then say, God wants us to love. Distribute the paper hearts. God wants us to love Him. We are to love God. God also wants us to love all people. We are to love everyone. Itty Bitties will inevitably start to destroy their paper hearts. Let them! It doesn't take long to break God's rules. We don't always love God. We don't always love all of the people God made. We break God's commandment rules just as easily as you have ruined your paper hearts. This is sin. God does not like it when we sin and break his commandment rules, God's Law. Our sin makes God sad; sin makes God mad!
Parents, this week's story is for you! God has blessed you with children, and caring for them, bringing them up in the fear, knowledge and love of the Lord is your vocation! Parenthood is your ultimate opportunity for evangelism! Our little Itty Bitties are not prepared to memorize the 10 Commandments yet, but that must not let us off the hook. Teaching our children the Commandments starts from the time they are very young - and that means we must memorize them first! One way to teach the Law is to live by it. (TRY to live by it!) Let your children see you reading your Bible; read the Bible and pray together as a family. Watch your mouth - modeling the proper use of God's name to your children. Take your children to church each week. If you haven't already started having to say "no" to your baby, you will soon! Saying "no" to your child, and thereby keeping them safe, teaching them right from wrong, teaches your child that you are their authority; tell them that God has given you parents so that He can take care of His children. Our dear children, sinful by nature, must be taught how to respect and trust Mommy and Daddy - it doesn't come naturally! The other Commandments will likewise be taught along the way as we seek opportunities to teach our children kindness, honesty and contentedness. One of the first second table Laws I discussed with my daughter was actually the Sixth Commandment. Children are naturally interested in families, and little girls in particular like to play wedding, a wonderful opportunity to talk simplistically about God's plan for marriage.
All of this talk of the Law is sure to convict us quickly! By the way, don't let your own sins let you feel inept in talking to your children about the Law. It might be most helpful of all for our children to see us ask for forgiveness from God too!
Awareness of our sin makes us anxious for our Savior! Advent is all about looking forward to that Savior! Jesus comes humbly, as a little baby, and lives to die for our sins on the cross. The Time of Christmas, and specifically Advent, the time of preparing for His coming, and it kicks off our new Church Year because it begins the retelling of our salvation story.
Read, Colors I See in Church by Julie Stiegemeyer (Click for link, book no longer available through CPH, but many others in the series are on sale!)
Then, we'll begin making our own "Colors at Grace Lutheran" books using little photo books. Today we'll make a cover, customized for your Itty Bitty, and the Advent pages. Using blue paper with the Advent candles already glued in place, parents (and older children) will add gold flames on the candles and the green wreath, then write "Advent" at the top and "Come, Jesus!" at the bottom of the page.
Photos of our altar with blue cloths for Advent is page two of your book. Throughout the rest of the church year we'll continue to add pages and pictures for Christmas and Epiphany after the first of the calendar year, and throughout the year until the book is complete!
a few more notes.... Aja will be teaching for the next two weeks of December, and it will be my turn again in January. Itty Bitty Lutherans will not meet on Christmas morning or on New Year's Day.