Family faith-sharing tip:
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a special emphasis on the truth that Jesus is coming back soon to take us to heaven forever. This is a happy message, because God loves us and longs for us to be with Him. Talk about the Second Coming with joy and excitement and help your children long for the special day, so that they come to God with love, joy, peace, hope, and thankfulness rather than the discouraging fear that they’ll never be good enough.
- Luke 14:12-24; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:9
- We have no idea when Jesus will come back again, but we want to be ready to go to His amazing “forever party” in heaven. And we want to help Jesus by inviting other people to be ready for His “forever party” too.
- Coloring materials
- Invitations to go to heaven
- Permanent marker pens
What you do:
- Fold several sheets of paper into quarters and open them out again. At the top of each quarter write “What I like best about parties,” “Party Menu,” “Party Activities,” “Silly excuses!”—four different headings on each sheet of paper. Prepare one for each person.
- Create your own invitations with the following words: “Dear (child’s name). I love you and long to be with you! Please come to my special party. Place: Heaven; Date: To be arranged; Time: Forever; Dress: Come as you are! Please will you come? I’m planning so many lovely surprises for you! All My love always, your Father God.” Place each invitation in an envelope with the child’s name written on the outside.
- Now you’re ready. Talk about the last party your child went to and what they liked the best. Or talk about what they’d like to do at their next party.
- Briefly tell them the story of “The Great Disappointment” from this week’s lesson in In Step With Jesus. Help them to see the disappointment rather like turning up to a party on the wrong day. You can be excited and ready and all dressed up, but if you have the wrong time, there won’t be a party to go to! The good news is that we haven’t missed the “forever party in heaven”—it will happen soon—we just don’t know when.
- Tell the story of “The Great Banquet” (Luke 14:12-24). Be creative and let the children imagine they are the king, planning an amazing celebration. Give them the quartered sheets of paper you prepared. Begin by asking them to write or draw why people like to come to parties. Then write or draw the food they would serve if they were the king, and the activities they would provide if they were the king. Encourage them to be creative and explore the parable from the king’s perspective.
- Imagine together that the king’s servants have prepared all the amazing food and activities and decorations and everything is perfect and ready. He sends his servants out to gather the guests, but they all have silly excuses for not attending. Encourage your children to dream up the silliest excuses that the silly people had for not going to the best party ever. They can write these on their pages too.
- Imagine the king’s disappointment when his best friends don’t want to come. How would your children feel if their friends gave such bad excuses and no one came to their special party?
- Then the king has a great idea. He sends his servants out to find anyone they can—children playing in the streets, poor people, homeless people, people with disabilities, or lonely people. And they’re all so happy to be invited to a party. And even happier to discover that the king has even prepared rooms for them so they can stay with Him and have a party forever. What an amazing king!
- Who is the King really? (God)
- Who are the servants? (Christians who love God and others)
- Who are the people who didn’t come to the party? (People who only pretended to be God’s friends)
- Who are the people in the streets who came to the party? (Everyone who needs to hear about God’s love, etc.)
- Then give each of your children the invitation you prepared. Ask them if they’d like to be at God’s “forever party.” Pray, thanking God for His invitation and asking Him to help you be ready for the “forever party” when Jesus comes again. Another idea: Use Legos®, other toys, craft materials, and old boxes, etc., and have your children create an imaginary model of their room in heaven (John 14:1-3).
- Encourage their creativity and avoid judging their design or saying that certain things they like (such as TV) won’t be in heaven. This isn’t about being right, it’s about capturing their amazing imagination (1 Corinthians 2:9).
- Inflate a few balloons.
- Give each person a balloon and a permanent marker pen.
- Have everyone write a prayer on their balloon, praising God and thanking Him for inviting us to live with Him in heaven forever.
- Read what everyone has written on the balloons. Then tie them together and display them somewhere appropriate.