Love, listening and service. The readings today are extraordinarily rich in imagery as they reveal various aspects of who our God is – a corner stone – a foundation upon which everything rests, the lavish love of God for us, and Jesus revealing to the people listening, that he is a Good Shepherd. The strength of the “I AM” words that John uses many more times in this gospel, tells us who Jesus is and who God is and enables us to reflect on who we are if we listen to the call to follow Jesus. What might these images mean for our lives today as we celebrate three themes – Good Shepherd Sunday, Prayers for Vocations and ANZAC day, our National day of remembrance? Many art works over the centuries have depicted the image of the Good Shepherd. This image is certainly one of my favourite images of God. Depending on our experiences in life, do we think of a small, cute lamb in the arms of the Shepherd or of a strong Shepherd able to carry grown sheep on his shoulders and who lays down his life for his sheep and takes it up again. (We have just celebrated this in our liturgical ceremonies during Holy Week and Easter – the Paschal mystery.) The gospel tells us this is who Jesus is. A self-giving shepherd, taken to the point of death giving his life freely for the benefit of others. True self-giving love. Reminds us of the people who went to war and gave their life for us all. We remember and pray for them especially today. As a child growing up my image of a good Shepherd was formed by my school holiday stays on my Uncle’s farm in Northern Southland. I saw and observed as I walked with him tending his sheep, caring, protecting, moving them to good grass, lambing and shearing his sheep, the constant care and love he had for his sheep. I reflected on his goodness, his gentleness and loving care for his sheep as if he had a real relationship with all of them. And the question for me then and still is today – is this who my God is for me? Do I allow this God into my life and trust his voice? I believe this voice calls us to follow Jesus and respond to the needs around and share ourselves generously with others – our call to be fully human in whatever vocation in life we are called to follow. We carry the life of the risen Jesus within us – the deeper larger reality that is God’s life. I can so easily get caught up in my own stuff and forget to listen and follow the call to be more like our Good Shepherd and value life and work with all for the good of humanity. In Jesus, our God is revealed, telling us of his abundant and eternal love – a love that is expressed in the close relationship of a God who calls us his very own children. Wow what a depth of love God has for us if we are open to this love relationship and believe in it. Our God is at home in us as the Father was at home in Jesus. We can all rejoice in the good fortune of being so loved by God, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, and being reminded that we are all part of a larger mystery as we are constantly invited into a deeper encounter with our God each day. Let us laugh with joy and celebrate and trust in this love as we continue our journey of bringing about the reign of God. Sr Jan Ogilvy op
It is important to support younger children in developing deep and consistent prayer lives. Help them know that God lovingly calls us into a personal relationship and always hears our prayers. God want to be part of EVERY aspect of our lives not just when things are difficult. Here are some fun ways to encourage you to be in relationship with God everyday and to bring all things to God in prayer.
Prayer Dice A prayer dice can be used as a quick and way to have prayer in the morning. Each side of the dice will have a word on it, for example, family, grandparent, animals, teachers, siblings, the environment, people who are sick, people who are lonely, pets or animals, your choice. Whatever the dice rolls on is what we pray for. At prayer time, maybe roll the dice 2 -3 times. Finish with a response e.g., “Merciful God hear our prayers”
Meditation Prayer Write down your own prayer or think about something you want to pray about. Go outside or find somewhere quiet at home and find a space on their own. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Get everyone to lay down on their backs and do a mediation type of prayer. Encourage stillness and a return to your prayer if your attention wanders, but leave space to just be in God's presence.
Prayer Ball Buy a small ball and write different things that you could use to spark prayer. Throw the ball to each other and stop every 5 passes. Wherever your thumb is pointing use that to create a prayer. Here are some examples of things you could use:
- Pop up and say one thing to praise God for something - Ask God to help someone who is sick - Shout out loud somewhere you can be like Jesus today - With a friend - Pray for a child who lives where there is war - ask God to help you cheer up someone who is feeling sad - Tell God about a fun day you have had and thank God for that day - what makes you sad? Why? Ask God for comfort - some children have no clean water , ask God to help them - pray for someone you have seen on TV - thank God for someone who is older than you - shout out the name of someone who helps you - put you left foot into the circle - then pray for those kids who don't have any shoes and warm clothes - pretend to swim around the room and prayer for those people who live on island effected by climate change - if you could email God .... what would you say? Tell God now. - with a friend pray for all the babies and mothers in the world - what is stopping you from helping others? Ask God to help you be brave! - What could you donate that someone else could use? Ask God to help you be more generous. - what is your favourite thing about God? Tell your friend - zoom around the room and tell God 3 people you are thankful for - stand like a tree and pray that we can be more careful with our environment - think of something you have done wrong. Silently tell God you are sorry. - make the sound of a lion or wild animal - thank God for the amazing creatures we share this planet with - find 3 people and tell each one something you are thankful for Prayer Marbles Choose between 3-5 marbles Take turns to put the marble into the box saying one thing that you are thankful for.
Prayer Book Writing down things you are thankful for to God for in the front of the journal. This can be family, friends, sky, grass, etc. anything that they love and appreciate about the world In the back things that you want to asking God about: for example, 'Loving God please stop hunger and war.' or 'God of miracles please heal my cat who is feeling sick.’
M&M Prayer 5 colours blue - family green - friends yellow - church red - people of other religions orange - leaders and teachers
The children get 3-5 m&m’s or counters which they have to pray for and take turn to share their prayers.
Prayerful playdoh Think of something in your life you are struggling with or having problems with. Use the dough to create an image that represents this. Are you make the image listen to what God might be saying to you about the situation. Have a discussion with God and allow it to move back and forth, from talking to listening. Once everyone has finished creating end the prayer with something like, God give us the courage to deal with things are Jesus would. Amen
Lego Prayer Choose a piece of lego Step 1: Hold your brick, pray for yourself. Thank God for the things you have been given. Ask God to bless you and to help you to bless others. Step 2: Count the bumps on your brick. For each bump on your brick, pray for a different person - friends or family members. Ask God to bless them this week. Step 3: Find someone in the group who has a different colour brick to you. Thank God for something about this person. This could be a trait, attribute or skill. Thank God for making each person special and unique. Pray that we will learn how to celebrate, understand and include people who are different to us. Step 4: Find someone with the same number of bumps on their brick as you. Thank God for families and friends and all who care for us. Ask God to help us to be make an effort to be friends with those who are lonely. Step 5: Swap your brick with someone. Thank God for the person you swapped with and ask God to bless them this week. Step 6: Put all the bricks together and build a structure or tower with them. Thank God for the church and the communities we live in. Pray that God will help us to include others and to help people know that they are loved and valued.
5 Finger Prayer To take home. Thumb – for the ones we love (our thumb is closest to us. 1st finger – for the teachers (this is our pointing finger) 2nd finger – for out leaders (this is the tallest finger) 3rd finger – for the sick and vulnerable (this is our weakest finger) 4th finger – for me THE PALM - Mother Earth who's future we hold in the palm of our hands.