It’s a Wonderful Life: The Beauty of Sacrificial Love
Possible movie prep discussion:
- What are your favorite: Christmas traditions? Christmas movies? Christmas dinner foods?
- What was your most memorable Christmas? Why was it memorable?
- Have you ever had an encounter with someone you believe to be an angel or experienced something that can only be described as super-natural? Describe the event.
- Our lives are made up of small, seemingly insignificant events, but each event has an effect on us or others. Are there any small events from your life that have resulted in life changing consequences?
Before the movie say: In the book of John 15: 13 Jesus says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Keep this verse in mind as we watch the movie. Pay attention to ways that George Bailey lives out this verse.
Watch the movie: It’s a Wonderful Life, not rated, 1 hour and 30 minutes
After the movie discuss:
- How does George live out the verse from John 15: 13?
- What sacrifices did George make in the movie?
- George had lots of dreams for adventure that never materialized. Why do you think he chose to sacrifice his dreams to run the Savings and Loan?
- What sacrifices did Jesus make? Why did Jesus make these sacrifices?
Say: In Matthew 22: 36-40 itsays, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Ask: How does George show love to his neighbor? How do you show love to your neighbor? How did Jesus show his love to the world?
In Luke 16: 10 Jesus says: 10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
- Use this verse to compare the characters of George Bailey and Mr. Potter.
- George gives up his dreams and is poor but finds happiness, while Mr. Potter is wealthy and powerful and is unhappy, selfish, and greedy. Why is this?
- Do you think Mr. Potter has ever had to make a sacrifice?
- What does George Bailey learn about selflessness and greed?
- How does the movie portray the power of ambition?
- How much of our character is determined by the choices we make and how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis versus how much money or the opportunities we have?
Say: In Philippians 2: 3-4 Paul says, “3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
- How do the characters in this movie live out this verse?
- Which character do you think best exemplifies this verse?
- Are there any characters who you would identify as a Jesus character? Who and why?
- In what ways do you live out this verse?
Read the following scripture and then discuss:
Luke 6: 31 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
Acts 2:44 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
1 Corinthians 12:12 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
Discuss: Bedford Falls was a close-knit community. As Christians, how important is it for us to become involved in one another’s lives and in the community? Do you think It’s even possible in today’s society? Explain. Do you think it is possible to exhibit sacrificial love today? Explain.
Close in prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us Jesus. Thank you for his selfless love and sacrifice that has allowed us to be adopted into your family. Help us always know our value as your beloved child, and our necessary part in the body of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen.
Freaky Friday : Finding compassion for others
Possible Movie prep activities:
- This movie is all about “walking in someone else’s shoes.” Try wearing shoes from someone else in your group during the movie. You may not remove the shoes until the movie is over. You will discuss how it felt after the movie and discussion.
- As a family (or group), recall an event that everyone participated in. Try to retell the event from another person’s point of view. After retelling allow the person whose point of view you recounted to share how they felt about your retelling. Allow them to retell the event in their own words adding how the felt at the time. After the movie, talk about how compassion (or lack of compassion) was involved in your retelling of the other’s point of view.
- As a group, write a definition for the word, compassion. After the movie and discussion, you will review this and see if you want to change or add to it.
Before watching the movie say: We are watching this movie to not only enjoy it, but to learn more about ourselves, our relationships with others and compassion.
In Ephesians 4:32, Paul commands us: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
Keep this verse in mind as you watch the movie.
Watch the movie: Freaky Friday, rated PG, 1 hour and 45 minutes
- Why was it so difficult for Anna and Tess to be compassionate toward one another? Do you relate? Why or why not?
- Do you think it is more difficult to be compassionate toward your own family members than toward strangers or friends? Why?
- What hurdles prevent you from showing compassion?
Say: Many times, we view people through the filter of “What can they do for me?” Tonight, we are going to try to change our view so we’re looking through the filter of “What is life like for other people and how can I help them?”
Read Matthew 7: 3-5: 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[a] when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend,[b] ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
- What do you think this verse means?
- How do you feel when someone tries to “take the speck out of your eye?”
- Why do we try to take the specks out of other people’s eyes?
- What do you think it means to “walk a mile in my shoes’?
- How does this verse support the idea of walking in someone else’s shoes?
Say: God has given us an amazing gift. Even though we can’t physically live another person’s life, like Anna and Tess, we can use our imaginations to picture what life is like for that person. We can really listen to what they say about their life. We can use the gift of empathy to be compassionate, but unfortunately, we don’t always do it.
Read Romans 12: 15-1615 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
- Do you think this verse is teaching about compassion? Why or why not?
- Do you find it easy to have compassion for others? Why or why not?
- What attitudes, beliefs or societal expectations make it difficult for you to understand the emotions and perspectives of another person?
- How can you “walk in someone else’s shoes? Do you think Jesus expects us too?
- How can walking in someone else’s shoes affect your relationship?
Say: Every person on this earth is a unique and beloved child of God.
- How can remembering this help us show compassion to others?
Read 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5: 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
- What is God’s purpose for compassion?
- When people show you compassion, how are you affected?
- How are you affected when you show compassion to others?
If you chose to do a movie prep activity, follow up as indicated.
Say: Expressing empathy and compassion for everyone exemplifies the love of Christ in a powerful way. It isn’t always easy, but we must try to walk in other people’s shoes just like Jesus did all the way to the cross.
Close in prayer: God of compassion, mercy and grace, inspire us to extend Christ’s compassion to others just as you extend compassion to us. Amen
WALL-E: Being Who We are Meant to be
This film is rated G, but has some mild violence, and a dystopian view of the future. To find it if it is right for your family, visit the link below.
Possible Movie Prep Activities:
- (For younger children): Use objects you find around the house to build a robot. Give him a name. If your robot could collect things, what do you think he would collect? What things do you collect? Let your new friend watch the movie with you.
- (All ages) Do together: In the movie, the robots have names that are linked to their functions, (VN-Go is a painting robot, PR-T applies makeup, GO-4 retrieves things for the captain) while other robots have names that are acronyms. (EVE = Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) Create robot names from the letters of the first name for each family member. See if your names can describe the traits of each person or something they like to do.
- Discuss: WALL-E’s truck (home) is full of treasures that have special meaning to WALL-E. Think of 5 things you own that would have no meaning to anyone else who found them.
- Discuss: This movie takes place in the future and shows Earth covered in trash. What do you think future Earth will be like?
Before the movie say: In the Galatians 6: 2-5 it says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. 4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”
As we watch this movie, pay attention to ways that WALL-E helps others and lives out this verse in doing his job well. Also pay attention to how, through his helpful nature, WALL-E discovers a new purpose in life.
Watch the movie – WALL-E, rated G, 1 hour and 38 minutes
After the movie say: In the synopsis for this movie it says, “WALL-E is a faithful robot who spends 700 lonely years doing what he has been made to do. After all that time he finally discovers what he is meant to do when he meets a sleek new robot named EVE.”
- (Questions for younger children): What was WALL-E’s job? How was WALL-E helpful throughout the movie? Do you think WALL-E was happy when he was gathering the trash? Do you think he was happy when he met EVE? Do you think picking up trash was as important as getting the plant to the AXIOM?
- (For youth and adults): What is the difference between what WALL-E has been made to do, and what he is meant to do? When does he discover the difference?
- Is there a difference between what you do and what you are meant to do? What are they? How do you know?
- Does being a Christian affect what you do? What you are meant to do? How?
- WALL-E spends his days doing the same thing over and over, but dreams of doing other things at night. It is only after he is taken out of his regular routine, that he becomes what he wants; what he is meant to be. Due to the Coronavirus, we have all been taken out of our regular routine. How have you changed? What have you discovered about yourself? Have you been able to do anything during this time of quarantine that you were not able to do before?
Say: WALL-E and EVE are both fulfilling their directives. WALL-E is cleaning up the trash, EVE is looking for signs of vegetation. After meeting EVE, WALL-E doesn’t follow his directive anymore.
- (For youth and adults): How are the people on board the AXIOM fulfilling a directive? Do any of the people on board the AXIOM give up their “directive”? How? When?
- At one point the Captain says, “I don’t want to survive, I want to live!” How does this character compare to WALL-E? What do you think the Captain meant? How does this relate to doing what we’ve been made to do and what we’re meant to do?
- What is a “directive” you feel you have been given (by parents, bosses, teachers, spouse, etc.)? Do you think a change in your routine would make you give up this directive?
Read Matthew 22: 37-40 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
- (For Younger children): What does Jesus want us to do? How can we show God we love him? How can we show our neighbors that we love them?
- (For youth and adults): Do you think Jesus is giving us a directive in these verses?
- Is Jesus saying this is something you are being made to do, or is this something you are meant to do? Could it be both? Why do you think God gives us free will?
Say: Throughout the Bible, God called certain people to specific tasks. (For examples you can read Judges 13: 3-5, 1 Samuel 16: 12-13, Galatians 1: 15-16.)
- (For younger children): What things do you do that you think make God happy? How often do you do these things? Can you do these things more often?
- (For youth and adults): Do you think God is calling you to do something? What is it? How do you know?
- Do you believe that what God is calling you to do, is what you are meant to do?
Say: In Jeremiah 29:11 it says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
- (For youth and adults): How do God’s plans for our lives relate to his call for our lives?
- Do you think God has a plan for everybody? Even for those who don’t believe he exists?
Read Romans 12: 2 “2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
- (For youth and adults): How do we let God change the way we think or do you think God has already changed the way you think? When? How?
- Do you think God continues to change us or to change the way we think?
Read 1 Corinthians 10: 31: 31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Say: God gives each of us gifts to use as we share the Good News of Jesus with our friends and family. This is what we are meant to do. While we go to our jobs and work and school and do what we are being made to do, we can use our gifts to do what we are meant to do as beloved children of God. As we do all of these things, we need to remember to do them to the best of our ability to glorify God.
Close in prayer: Lord God, you gave us your son to teach us about your love and mercy and grace. You made each one of us and know us so well, you have numbered the hairs on our heads. You have given us good work to do and gifts to do that work. Help us discover our calling. Help us find joy in our work and help us glorify you in all we do. In Jesus name and through the power of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
The Incredibles: Discovering our true identity in Christ
SPECIAL NOTE: this movie is rated PG for “Action Violence”
If you would like, you can go to the following website to see if this movie is appropriate for your family:
Possible Movie Prep:
- (For all ages) Discuss: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
- (For all ages) The Incredibles have a family logo of a circle with a lower case “i” in the middle of it. Design a logo that represents your family.
- (For all ages) Discuss: Compare the Incredibles to other Superheroes. (Avengers, Batman, Superman, etc.) How are they the same? How are they different? Who is your favorite?
- Discuss how superheroes (Avengers, Superman, Batman, etc.) get their powers. (If you don’t know ask Google!) How do Christians get their “power”?
Before watching the movie say: Being a Christian these days sometimes feels like having a secret identity. Talking openly about God can feel intimidating. Explaining your faith is often not considered politically correct. While Christians don’t have super powers, we do have power in our identity in Christ. In “The Incredibles,” people who do possess powers are pressured by the world to hide their identities and become “normal.” Normal isn’t enough for Bob Parr, (aka, Mr. Incredible). He tries the normal life and feels unfulfilled. As you watch the movie, pay attention to how each character deals with their true identity and their secret identity.
Watch the movie: The Incredibles, rated PG, 1 hour and 55 minutes
Character study (For all ages) Say: Think about the 5 main superhero characters. (Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violet and Frozone)
- How and why do they try to hide their secret identities?
- Are they happy assuming a “normal” life?
- Who is your favorite? Why?
- Which are you most like? Why?
- Do you ever feel unfulfilled in your life? How? When?
(Use the following discussion points to build up your family members and compare our identity as Christians to these Superheroes)
1. Mr. Incredible has a gift of strength. The Bible tells in Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”. So, we have ultimate strength for anything that God sends our way. While we can’t lift train cars or crunch cars with our hands, each one of us has the power of God available to us at all times. That is incredible!
2. Elastigirl has the ability to stretch. In the book of 2 Peter 1: 5-8 it says, “make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is stretching us. Every day we are provided with the chance to stretch and grow. We might have an opportunity to show kindness to someone, or help someone who has been marginalized. God may be giving us and opportunity to stretch in our work or at school. We too have the power to stretch and God knows just how far we can stretch and He will stretch us a little each day if we let him.
3. Dash has great speed. He wanted to use his gift of speed to race. At the end of the movie, his mom and dad only wanted Dash to finish the race and it wasn’t important that he win. As Christians, we are in a race. In Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
In our race, we are trying to finish this life and bring glory to God in all we do as well as bringing as many with us as we can. It doesn’t matter if you finish first because with God, no matter where you place, you are a winner. God wants to be with us as we finish the race the best we can.
4. Violet has the ability to create a force field to protect herself and her family. Violet always used her hands when she wanted to produce the force field. We too have the power to produce a “force field” through prayer. God desires to love, care for and protect us and our families. We must constantly be in prayer for our loved ones and those around us and ask God to keep them protected. In James 5: 13-16 it says, “13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 17 says, “Never stop praying.” So go ahead, make that “force field”!
5. Frozone could use the moisture in his body or in the air to produce ice that would help those in need. The Holy Spirit is like the water that Frozone needed. If Frozone was dry, he couldn’t help those around him and produce ice. He had to be full of liquid or water. Just like him, we need to be full of the Holy Spirit so we can give to others what they need. When we are dry, we can reach out to God and ask that He fills us again so that we can touch those around us. He will guide us to do the right thing no matter what obstacles we face. Galatians 5: 16 says, “Let the power of the Holy Spirit guide your lives.” In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “7 God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves.”
As Christians, we also have a source of living water that will never go dry. Jesus explains this when he is talking to a Samarian woman at a well saying, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” 11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
- After hearing this, how does this change your thinking about yourself and your role in building God’s Kingdom on Earth?
- Do you identify with one of the characters more now that you’ve thought about your identity in Christ?
- Each of the characters felt fulfilled when they lived out their true identity as superheroes. How does this relate to Christians using their God given gifts? How do you use your gifts? At work? In the church? In the community? Do you feel fulfilled in using what you perceive as your gifts?
Say: As Christians, we have power and strength that is given by God. It can be used for good and to further God’s Kingdom on Earth, we just have to assume our real identities as God’s beloved children. As it says in Ephesians 3: 20-21, “20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Close in prayer: Lord God, thank you for Jesus our Savior. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that fills us, strengthen us and guides us. Thank you for adopting us into your family and making us your beloved children. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to you and glorify you. In Jesus’ name and through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray, Amen.
MIRACLE: Using our gifts for God’s Team
SPECIAL NOTE: this movie is rated PG for “language and rough sports action”
If you would like, you can go to the following website to see if this movie is appropriate for your family: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/miracle
Possible movie prep activities:
- For young children: Discuss each of the following items or situations. (Sail boat, Firemen extinguishing a fire, fast food drive through, a cell phone, teacher teaching a class, a band concert, a marathon) Discuss the parts that make it work. Which part do you think is the most important? What would happen if this part was missing? (Note; There really aren’t any right or wrong answers. The idea is to think about how parts work together)
- Discuss: Do you like to work as part of a team, or do you prefer to work independently? Why?
- Discuss: What is most difficult about working on a team?
- For young children: Play a friendly game of indoor hockey: Roll a piece of paper into a ball. Use brooms, mops or umbrellas as sticks and try to get the paper into a predesignated goal. Play to a prearranged score or length of time.
Before the movie read 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27: 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
Say: We don’t often equate being a Christian with being on a team. But when we read this, we see that each of us is given different gifts to use for the good of the church on earth – Christ’s body. Just like a sports team, where each person has a vital role to play on the team based on their abilities and gifts, we need to share our gifts and abilities within our communities for Christ’s body to be complete and for God’s love to be made known.
As we watch this movie, be aware of how each person uses their gifts to contribute to the team’s success.
For young children you can say: Each person who believes in Jesus is given special talents. (At this point you could name people in your church congregation who do certain jobs – for example the Pastor preaches, the musicians play instruments and sing, the secretary is good at typing and organizing and creating the worship slides, there are people who run the church council, etc.) Tell the child(ren) that as they watch the movie, think about what each member of the hockey team does to help it win.
Watch the movie: Miracle, rated PG, 2 hours and 16 minutes
(Depending on the age of your child(ren) you can choose from the following questions and scripture readings. You might also use this time to share what you think you child’s gifts are and how those can be used in your church or community.)
Follow up discussion questions:
- What issues kept the hockey players from becoming a team immediately?
- What helped them to overcome those hurdles?
- How can Christians function as a team in their churches and in their communities?
- What issues keep Christians from becoming a team?
- What could bring us together?
Say: It is important that every Christian function as part of a team. God assembles congregations and communities the same way Herb Brooks carefully selected the members of his team for a purpose. As our creator, God knows our character, talents and gifts; so that we have everything we need to be part of God’s miracle.
Read Matthew 25: 14-2814 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[a] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![b]’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ 24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.
Say: In this reading, God is represented as the Master and we are the servants to whom he has given gifts and talents to use.
- Why do you think God would be angry with us for not using our gifts and talents?
- What message are you sending to God when you don’t use your talents and gifts?
- How different could our churches and communities be if every person used their talents and gifts and worked as a team for God’s glory?
Read Romans 12: 6-8 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Say: God has commanded us to use our gifts. Each of us brings something special to the body of Christ. Working together as a team with other Christians, we can accomplish anything God places before us.
Close in prayer: Generous, loving God, thank you for the gifts and talents you have given us. Help us recognize and use them for your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Toy Story : Knowing Whose You Are
Possible Movie Prep activities and discussions:
- For young children: If you could talk to any of your toys which would you want to talk to and why? Which is your favorite toy? Do any of your toys have a mark or your name on them? Why did you do that? As a family choose a “favorite toy”. Let someone hide it in the room, then everyone looks for it. How do you think it feels to be lost?
- For older kids, youth and adults: Have you ever had a favorite toy? Where/when did you get it? Did you write your name on it? Did you ever lose it?
- How would you describe your identity and your purpose? Does being a Christian have anything to do with your identity and purpose?
- Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? Why? When? Where you able to find a sense of belonging? How?
Before watching the movie say: During the Lutheran service of baptism, the Pastor pours water over the head of the person being baptized 3 times saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The congregation says, “You belong to Christ in whom you have been baptized. Alleluia.” The Pastor uses oil and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the baptized saying, “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” A candle is lit and the Pastor says, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” The congregation then says, “We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.” Keep these words in mind as you watch the movie.
Watch the movie: Toy Story, Rated G, 1 hour and 21 minutes
- For young children: Tell your children about their baptism. If you have pictures, memorabilia or videos of the baptism, show it to them. Talk with them about what it means to be part of God’s family. Read the following scripture: When you heard (the Good News) you believed in Christ. And God put his special mark on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. (Ephesians 1:13 – International Children’s Version) Explain to your child(ren) that this happened at their baptism. It was like when Andy wrote his name on his toys to show they belonged to him. God has put his seal on them and they belong to him. They are a child of God.
- For older kids, youth and adults: After the movie read the following Scriptures: Ephesians 1:5 “5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:13 “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own[a] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”
- How is the service of baptism similar to Andy getting a new toy?
- How does Andy’s writing his name on his toys to show ownership, exemplify the verses from Ephesians?
- How does God’s “ownership” of you differ from Andy’s ownership of his toys?
- Have you ever felt lost from God’s presence? Were you able to return to his presence? How did you do that?
- Does knowing that you have been identified as “God’s own” give you a new sense of identity? Does it affect your day to day life?
Say: Think about the scene where Buzz and Woody are in the “Claw” machine at Pizza Planet. In this scene the alien toys explain that the “claw” is in charge and they are look forward to being chosen to go on to other places. At one-point Woody calls one of the aliens in the machine a zealot for believing in the claw and letting the claw take Buzz. After the claw “chooses” Buzz and Woody they end up going to the one place they don’t want to go – Sid’s room.
- Do you believe you have been chosen by God?
- Do you believe God has put you in the place you are right now in your life?
- When Buzz and Woody first arrive in Sid’s room, they are afraid of and prejudiced towards Sid’s toys calling them cannibals because of the way they look. After the toys show kindness towards Buzz, Woody realizes he was wrong and devises a plan to save not only himself and Buzz, but the other toys. How have (or can) you do good works in the place God has put you? Have you ever had to change your feelings about those around you?
Say: To those who don’t believe in God or Jesus, Christians must also sound like zealots. We believe we are chosen by God and placed in the mission field he has prepared for us.
Colossians 3: 23-24 says: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Ephesians 3: 20-21 says: 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
- What is your vocation? How is this the same or different from the work God wants you to do?
- Has your vocation ever expanded in a way that you didn’t expect?
- Could God be working in you and through you in your vocation?
- How does knowing you are chosen and sealed by God and claimed as his own change the way you think about yourself and your vocation? How does it help you grow in relationship with God?
Say: At one point, Buzz becomes depressed when he realizes he is not a Space Ranger. Woody does not let Buzz remain in despair. He explains to Buzz that being a toy is better than being a space ranger. Woody encourages Buzz to be what he was made to be: a great toy that can make a child happy. Buzz looks down and sees Andy’s name written on his foot and raises out of his sadness to save the day.
It is when we realize our true identity as God’s child and our calling in Christ that we can truly be who God intends us to be. When we understand that we are loved and valued by God, God’s love flows through us and bestows good to others and enables us to live out our baptismal promises: “giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.”
End by blessing each other:
Each person will use their finger to trace a cross on the forehead of someone else saying:
__(name)___, child of God, you are God’s own, claimed through Jesus Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit forever. Amen
FINDING NEMO: God’s frantic love for us
Possible Movie Prep Activities and Discussion:
- For families with young children: Cut out the attached picture of Nemo. Hide it in the room/house. Say: A little Clownfish named Nemo is lost. It is up to us to find him. We must find him before we can watch the movie! Have everyone search for Nemo. Discuss: How did you feel when Nemo was lost? How did you feel when it was us up to us to find him? How did you feel once you found him?
- Talk about a time you lost something that was precious to you. What did you do to find it? How did you feel when you found it? If you didn’t find it, how do you feel?
- Discuss rules your family has (or you had as a child) to keep you safe. Do (did) you feel these rules were fair? What might your family be like without those rules?
Before watching the movie say: In the Bible, Romans 8:38 says, “38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” (For young children, just use the first part of the verse: Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.) As we watch the movie, keep this verse in mind.
Watch the movie: Finding Nemo, rated G, 1 hour 40 minutes
After the movie, reread the Romans 8:38 verse. Discussion Questions:
- For young children: Discuss what Nemo did that caused him to be separated from Marlin. Talk about all of the things Marlin and Dory go through to find Nemo. Point out that they never give up. Nothing can separate Nemo from his father’s love. This is the same way God loves us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Talk about things we do (sin) that cause us to be lost from God. Explain that when we pray and ask for forgiveness, God promises to love us. (This is a good time to pray together as a family asking God to forgive your sins.)
- For older kids and families: How does Marlin illustrate this verse? How does Dory illustrate this verse? Which character do you think is the better illustration? Why?
- In the movie, Marlin and Dory persevere through dangers to find Nemo. What “dangers” did/does God endure to “find” you?
- In what ways are you like Nemo? (How do you disobey God’s rules?)
- Have you ever been really lost before? (either physically or emotionally?)
In Luke 15: 4-6 Jesus tells this story: If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
In the Luke 15: 11-22, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son:11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So, the party began.
- Discussion: Which of these verses do you think best fits this movie? Why?
- What do these verses tell us about God’s love for us?
- How do these parables that Jesus told, exemplify the Romans 8:38 verse? (“38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”)
- Do you believe God has pursued you as Marlin pursued Nemo? Why or why not?
- Can you share a time you experienced God’s love in a tangible way?
- How does God demonstrate his love for us?
Reread Romans 8:38 before ending in prayer: Thank you father for your perfect, never ending love for us. Calm our fears and worries and help us draw our strength from you. Thank you for the gift of faith in Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit who fills our souls with your love. Stay near us in these uncertain times. We pray in the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
If you have young children you can cut out and hide Nemo. (See first activity under Possible Movie Prep)
Cars: God has good plans for you
Possible movie prep activities:
- If you are watching this movie with young children, set up an obstacle race in your home with a starting line and finish line. They might have to crawl under a chair or over a stack of pillows. You can add pieces of paper that say stop and do 5 jumping jacks (or another physical activity). Tell them to finish the race as quickly as possible (for older kids you could time them) After the race ask, “How did it feel to have to stop the race when you came to an obstacle?” Tell them to watch for obstacles that Lightening McQueen has during the movie.
- Discuss a time when you were trying to do something and you kept getting distracted by other things or obstacle kept you from completing your task.
- Share times that friends have helped you complete a task or you have helped friends complete a task.
Before Watching the movie say:
A rookie racecar, Lightning McQueen, has his sights set on on winning the Piston Cup in a three-way race between two rivals. A series of coincidences and obstacles strands Lightning in an isolated, rundown, small desert town called Radiator Springs, off Route 66. There, while rebuilding the main road he destroyed, Lightning encounters the quirky cars running the town and its various businesses. They teach Lightning some important lessons.
Watch the movie: Cars, Rated G, 1 hour and 56 minutes
After the movie say: Lightning McQueen got lost on his way to the big race. While he was lost, he learned things that changed his life.
- What lessons do you think Lightning learned? (He learned the importance of friendship and caring for others. He learned the importance of slowing down and “finding yourself” and re-discovering values you may have lost.)
- In a way, with the shut down and stay at home orders, we are similar to Lightning McQueen. We are being forced to slow down as we are being kept away from our jobs, schooling and social activities. What lessons have you learned? What have you re-discovered about yourself?
Read the following Bible verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- In this movie, Lightning sees his future as winning the big race and becoming famous. He faces many obstacles on his way to winning the big race. In the end, he realizes the race wasn’t really that important. What future goals do you have? Do you think any of these goals will prove to be unimportant? What future goals do you think God might have for you?
- Questions for younger children: What plans do you think God had for Lightning? What does it mean to be patient? Do you think Lightning learned to be patient? How do you know? Have you ever had to be patient? What would you like to be/do when you grow up? How will you achieve this goal?
Read the following Bible verse: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
- Each of us is running our own race. It might be to find better employment or a promotion. It might be to finish our careers and retire. It might be to graduate from high school or college. It might be to get good grades in school. It might be to improve ourselves in some way. What race do you see yourself running right now?
- Could you adapt or change your plans if your race was “detoured” or changed because of obstacles?
- Do you think God can support you in your race?
- What race do you think God wants you to “run” at this time? Is it the same as the race you are currently running?
- How can we find endurance to run our race?
- Questions for younger children: Have you ever been to a race? Have you ever been in a race? What do people have to do to be ready for a race? What is endurance? How do athletes build endurance? How can we build “endurance” to be better Christians?
Say: As we run our race, we can build our Christian endurance by keeping our eyes on Jesus and reading the Bible, praying for God’s guidance, accepting that God’s will for our lives will be done, and trusting in God’s promise that he has good plans for our lives. God has given us friends and a Christian community to support us in our race.
Close in Prayer: Lord God, you are the giver of all good gifts. You love us even though we don’t deserve it. Help us to grow closer to you and trust in your will for our lives. Help us endure as we run the race you have laid out before us. In Jesus name, Amen
Charlotte’s Web –Friendship and faith in uncertain times
Possible movie prep activities:
- What pets have you had?
- What was the oddest pet you or an acquaintance has had?
- Was there a real Wilbur the pig? — Yes, there was, but he didn’t have a name. E.B. White, the man who wrote Charlotte’s Web, would raise a spring pig every year and slaughter it around Christmas time. This was many years ago and lots of people did that back then. One year, the pig that Mr. White was raising got sick and he had to take care of it. Mr. White observed that the pig had a real personality and that it suffered when it was sick. The pig and Mr. White became good friends but the pig never recovered. Eventually it died of the sickness. Mr. White never again looked at pigs as just something to keep confined, to feed, and then to kill for food. As a result of his friendship with the pig who got sick, Mr. White wrote the book Charlotte’s Web.
- Did you know that pigs are as smart as dogs? — They love their babies and can feel affection for people. Pigs can be house trained just like a cat or a dog. There are some people who keep pigs as pets.
- Choose someone who is watching the movie with you. What words would you write in Charlotte’s web about that person? (If you are watching this movie alone, what words would you write about yourself?) Write these words on an index card or piece of paper and give them to the person at the end of the study. Explain why you chose these words.
Before watching the movie say: Charlotte is a spider who is a beautiful and unusual example of Christ. She knew what it meant to be “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:5) She befriends Wilbur, a pig who, because he is born on a farm, is destined to die. Wilbur is blissfully unaware of his fate at first, but once he realizes the truth, Charlotte promises to save him, no matter what. As you watch this movie be aware of the “Christ-like” characteristics of Charlotte. Also watch the friendships that form during the movie.
Watch the movie: Charlotte’s Web, Rated G, 1 hour and 53 minutes
After the movie read the following Bible verses:
John 15:13- There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Proverbs 17:17- A friend loves at all times
1 Corinthians 13:4-7- Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
- Which characters form friendships?
- In what ways do the characters exhibit Biblical love and friendship for each other?
- How do the characters help each other?
- Think about your own life. Have there been any times where you acted out of love for a friend? What happened? Why did you act? Has a friend acted out of love for you?
- In what ways does Jesus exhibit Biblical love for us?
Say: Charlotte literally gives her life to keep her promise and help Wilbur live. Charlotte demonstrates the sacrificial love of friendship even though Wilbur can do nothing for her. In what ways does this resemble Christ’s life, death and resurrection? (John 3:16 – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”)
Say: In the movie, Templeton the Rat is not a very well-liked character until Charlotte enlists his help to find words. Charlotte demonstrates her great vocabulary by using words such as “salutations”, “languishing” and “magnum opus”, yet she asks Templeton for help. Charlotte most likely doesn’t really need Templeton’s help, but in doing so, makes Templeton useful and changes the way the other animals view him. Templeton becomes resourceful, helpful and intelligent. It is with the partnership of Templeton and Charlotte that the right words are found to save Wilbur. How does this emulate Jesus’ interactions with people? Something to think about: In what ways can you reach out to those who might not be valued or liked and engage them so that they feel useful?
Read Hebrews 11:1What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is evidence of things we cannot yet see.
- Which characters demonstrate faith? How do their actions show their faith?
- In what ways do you demonstrate faith?
- What makes for “uncertain times” in this movie? What makes for “uncertain times” in your life right now?
- How do friendship and faith help the characters get through their uncertain times?
- How can friendship and faith with Jesus and other believers help us get through our uncertain times?
Share the words you wrote about another person. Explain why you chose these words. After doing this study, could you add any more words?
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of faith. Help our faith grow as we learn more about you through the scriptures. In the book of Romans, it says, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Thank you for your friendship. Help us always rejoice in the love and friendship you give us freely. Help us share this love and faith and friendship with everyone we meet. Amen
MONSTERS, INC. – Love casts out fear
Possible movie prep activities:
- Discuss: Have you ever been afraid of something and then found out it wasn’t scary?
- Take a poll: Who in the group enjoys being frightened: At a movie? Amusement park ride? Halloween haunted house or forest? Campfire stories? Pranks?
- Design a monster costume: In the movie, Sully makes a costume for Boo out of things he finds around the house. Use things you find around the house to design a monster costume.
Before the video say: Doors play a prominent role in this film. Draw/design “your door” on one side of an index card or piece of paper. On the other side, write your fear(s). Keep this until the end of the movie/discussion.
When everyone has finished drawing their door, say: Fear is a powerful force. Fear of failure, of change, of the dark, of rejection, of the unknown, of loss, of the future, of missing out, of being ordinary, of heights, of financial struggles. Regardless of its object, our fear is capable of absorbing us, or consuming our hearts and minds in a frozen stare of inaction. Knowing that we are not alone can help us move forward. As you watch this movie, pay attention to how Mike, Sully and Boo lose their fears as they work together as a team.
Watch the movie: 1 hour 33 minutes (rated G)
Follow up discussion questions:
- What was each character’s original fear? (Sully, Mike, Boo)
- How do they work as a team?
- Does this teamwork make them stronger? Why? How?
- Think about the part in the movie where Randall has put Boo in the scream extractor. What happened to give Boo the power to turn her fear around and fight Randall? (Boo couldn’t get out of the extractor until Sully was there – Knowing that Sully was there gave Boo the strength to fight Randall. She was not alone)
Read Isaiah 41:10: Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Read Joshua 1:9: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Say: Just like Boo in the scream factory, we are not alone. God promises in the Bible that he is always with us. Over and over again God tells us to not be afraid.
- How can this knowledge help you with your struggles and fears?
Say: In John 4:18 it says: Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. Sully loses his fear of Boo and helps her out of love.
- What are some things that Sully does to help Boo? (He risked his life trying to find her door in the factory, he leaves his best friend Mike in the frozen wasteland to try to find Boo)
Say: Through the relationship Sully and Mike build with Boo, they discover a stronger source of power – laughter and love.
- How does knowing you are part of a family, community, congregation in which laughter and love play a large part help you in facing your fears?
- How can building a relationship with Jesus through Bible study and prayer help you face your fears?
- How can you keep a firm sense of God’s presence in your life? Especially during scary times?
Say: Now take the door you drew at the beginning and look at the fears you wrote on the back. Listen as I read Psalm 23 verse 4:
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Now use a black marker or crayon or pencil to write over you fears, “God is with me”. Tape this door somewhere you will see it as a reminder that you are not alone.
Loving God, thank you for always being with me. Help me feel your presence during the dark valleys in my life. Give me a spirit of power and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.