May is Christian Home Month and we’re celebrating at First United Methodist Church!
Our theme for 2019 is “Families Called to Justice.” In the book of Amos, we read, “. . . let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV). These words can be both thrilling and terrifying. What is the justice we seek? How do we experience God’s justice? What do we see in the world around us that calls for God’s justice? And as families, what does it mean to be called to justice? For Christians, probably the simplest way to look at God’s justice is to know that God’s desire is for ALL to be treated as God would treat them.
Take a moment and read Isaiah 1:17. What would justice be like for your family? For your congregation? For the world? Record your thoughts – in words, in pictures, in sounds. Pray for God’s justice to be revealed through our daily lives and in our world.
Let Christian Home Month be the beginning of an entire year of deepening our understanding of God’s justice and our ability to act for justice. During the month and throughout the rest of the year, use the following activities to explore how your family is called to justice.
Family Devotion. Prepare a gathering place for family worship. Create a centerpiece on the table where you eat your meals or in another area of your home where you can gather as a family. Include a candle. Write Hosea 12:6 or another verse of your choice and place the verse next to the candle. Include other items that remind you of God. During your time of devotions, follow this worship sequence:
- Praise: Praise God with a song, or simply start your time, saying together, “We praise God.”
- Prayer: Use a family prayer, or say the Lord’s Prayer. Hold hands as you pray.
- Reading: Read a scripture passage of your choice, a short devotional passage from The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide, or another devotion of your choice.
- Reflection: Ask each person to answer this question, “What was your favorite part of this scripture or devotion? What have you learned from this scripture or devotion? What actions do you think we need to take because of this scripture or devotion?”
- Sharing: Each person shares joys, concerns, and prayers for himself/herself and others.
- Blessing: Use a hymn such as the “Doxology” or “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” to end your time together, or use a simple dismissal and say together, “God be with you” or “God’s peace surrounds you.”
Family Night. Set aside a regular time for sharing activities of family fun together. You could do the same activity each time (play board games, cook special treats, volunteer as a family in service to others, learn about people who live lives that are different from yours). Each family night could be planned by a different family member, with the activity based on agreed-upon criteria.
Count Your Blessings. Discuss together what each person in the family sees as justice or injustice. Justice is when all of God’s creation (the earth, animals, people) is treated with love and care, so that all have what they need. We have injustice when some do not have food or shelter; when the earth and its creatures are harmed; when there is inequality because of culture, ethnicity, religion, economics, or other differences. At dinner each week, go around the table and ask family members to name where they saw or experienced justice. Make a list of these blessings. Thank God for these experiences and for being able to share them with one another.
Study Scripture Together. Some of the key scripture passages that mention justice are Psalm 33:5, Psalm 106:3, Proverbs 31:9, Jeremiah 22:3, Amos 5:24, Matthew 7:12, Luke 10:29-37, and Romans 12:15-18. Ask one family member to read the scripture. After family members have heard the scripture, ask them to state what the scripture made them think about related to justice in the world.
Refrigerator Reminders. On the refrigerator, post a scripture passage, a line from a hymn or song, an inspirational thought, or a brief prayer. Change the passage each Saturday. Place this reminder on the refrigerator at a level where all members of the family can see it.
Scripture/Prayer/Thought-for-the-Day Cards. Buy a spiral notebook of index cards; write a favorite scripture verse, short prayer, or thought for the day on each card. Daily, turn over one of the cards to reveal a scripture verse, short prayer, or thought for the day about justice to read aloud. Illustrate each card.
Idea Starters for Conversations around the Table or at Any Time:
- Tell about an act of justice you’ve read about in the paper or seen on television and talk about why you think it is important.
- Name someone who you know prays for you. Why do you think this person prays for you?
- Tell about something you’ve seen this week that you feel was unjust. Explain why you feel it was unjust.
- Where did you see someone taking care of God’s earth this week? What did they do?
- Tell about something you saw in nature that made you glad for God’s creation.
- Who are the people you feel sorriest for? Why? What could you do to help them?
- Complete one of these sentences (and create your own):
- God is with me when . . .
- A person I know who cares for those who are hungry is . . .
- My favorite story Jesus told about how we should act is . . .
- The best time I have ever had working for justice is . . .
- If I preached a sermon about justice, I would say . . .
- I like to be with my family when we . . .
Establish a Family Covenant for Living Justly. This covenant can be renewed every three months; however, the basic elements of the covenant stay intact. The promise of love, forgiveness, acceptance, truthfulness, growth, and witness is the basis of the covenant. Family Covenant for Living Justly Create a covenant together as you promise to grow together as a family in living justly. Every month, take time to ask, “How have we lived into our covenant?” Celebrate how you have shown God’s justice to one another. Then make any changes that might be needed for the next month.