For Mothers…and Fathers, and Families of all Kinds

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When Mother’s Day pops up, we shift our focus on earthly families and appreciate how much our mothers do. This is of course important, and respects God’s commandment to honor parents (Exodus 20:12). God has given us father and mother with special purpose. On the other side of things, though, what about those who do not have such a blessed home life? This lesson peeks at the importance of family, but also the significance of God adopting us as His children and providing family through the body of Christ.
Lesson focus: God gives us families to love and strengthen us in our lifetime, but He also provides Heavenly citizenship as a means to have fellowship with other believers and with Him.
Passage: Acts 6:1, Deuteronomy 14:28, Psalm 68:5, James 1:27, Genesis 1:27-28, Luke 1, Ruth 4, 1 Samuel 1-2, Genesis 17-20, 24-27
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: “Moms of the Bible” flashcards game; foam or felt; fabric markers; decorative materials.
Lesson Opening: Test student knowledge of Biblical mothers…create a game of matching, or use a pre-made set of names (available to get things started. Provide students with several significant mothers of the Bible, and see if they can pair them with their children. Possible sets include Sarah and Isaac, Hannah and Samuel, Rachel and Joseph, Elizabeth and John, etc…see how many matches kids are able to recognize, and discuss ones that are unfamiliar. Explain that we will be talking a bit about mothers, but also about families in general. Why do you think God gives us families??
Bible Lesson:
What is a family good for? God established the unit of the family at the dawn of creation, and it’s clear that he values relationships and does not want us to go it alone.
 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  -Genesis 2:18
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”    -Genesis 1:27-28
God commanded us to stay together and continue populating the earth. This was His design for humanity, and allows us to be part of His grand plan. Cool! Take a moment for students to share who is in their families and what makes each family member special and significant. Return to Biblical examples and God’s heart for the family unit. But what of developing changes in families today? And what about people who don’t have mothers, or fathers? Sometimes out of no one’s particular fault or choosing, mothers are left without husbands and children without parents. The good news is that God has promised to care for all people, even and especially those without blood kin…
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5
In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:5-6
It is comforting to remember that the Lord has chosen and adopted us into His family, and allows us to be cared for no matter what. However, in the same manner that God calls us to care for all people, He has made it clear that we also ought to look out for those who have lost their earthly family ties.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.           -James 1:27
We see Biblical examples of this principle, as well. Consider the model of the early church, giving specifically to those in need:
 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”-Acts 6:1-4
The founding apostles saw a need and took care of it. They did not do this at the expense of sharing the gospel, but allocated certain people to make sure the widows were cared for, and modeled a sense of value for all people. The church should strengthen and inspire the families within it, yes, but all the more we should also lift up those without the same family ties.  Even in the Old Testament, God demonstrated a heart for the orphans and lonely:
 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.                                                           –Deuteronomy 14:28
With these God-priorities in mind, how do we respond? We continue to give attention and love to our own families, of course. But we also need to take care to look out for the lonely. Seek out those in our church and community who do not have families close or who often seem alone. Make sure to greet them and take interest. This can be young and old alike.
Another way we can honor God’s instructions to  care for all people is by truly supporting those without parents. The statistics are disheartening. In the United States, there are currently more than 100,000 legal orphans in foster care awaiting adoptive families (source: Thousands more are in foster care “limbo” awaiting parental involvement or trials, or living with one or both parents in jail. Even if (as kids or adults) we cannot personally provide a foster or adoptive home, we can support those that do. There are lots of ways to come alongside foster families with prayer, cards, supplies, or babysitting. There are also adoptive agencies we can support. Brainstorm other possible ways to help those who might be struggling or unable to meet all basic needs.
Make a Mother’s Day treat for mom…or for someone else! Have students trace hands on foam sheets and assist them in cutting them out. Glue decorations on, if desired, and use fabric markers to write things that are special about our moms. Alternatively, create one for a grandma or someone else in the church who might not be related at all!
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s heart for all people. Ask for help in seeking and assisting those who need Him most, and thank Him for families of all kinds.

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