Category Archives: God

Gleanings from a Book: “When God Made You” by Jane G. Meyer

Jane G. Meyer’s new book, “When God Made You” invites readers of all ages to look at each person in the world and consider what God was thinking when He made them. Every spread of this gleefully-worded book introduces a child from a different part of the world, and suggests what God had in mind when He created that child. Each “person recipe” in the book, just as in real life, is completely unique and brimming with the love and enthusiasm of our Creator.

“When God Made You” celebrates each person’s extraordinary qualities, looks, talents, and interests, recognizing each facet as a gift that has been poured into that person’s life by God Himself. The book also demonstrates to the reader that God does not just give those qualities to us to enjoy, but because He wants them to be used and shared. Every child in the book, upon being created, is issued a command: to plant, to sing, to paint, to lead… The book brings to life the reality that from the moment we are created, God has in His mind the work that He has set for us to do.

Throughout the book, Megan Elizabeth Gilbert’s whimsical illustrations bring to life the individual being described. Readers can see Makani, Hikaru, Bridgid, Carmelo, and all the others in their home environment, savoring their surroundings and beginning to act on the command that God has given for them to fulfill.The illustrator has carefully captured cultural details (down to the very fabric of the traditional clothing), and uses these characteristics to effectively embellish each spread. The reader can sense the joy God has in creating each person through the charming illustrations in this book.

The book both begins and ends with this important question: “What beautiful things was God thinking when He made you?” This question – actually, the book as a whole – naturally lends itself to a class discussion on individual uniqueness. God’s plan for each person, His delight in each of us, and His love for each person are clearly demonstrated in the pages of this book. This book will be an invaluable addition to any Orthodox Christian Sunday Church School library.


Here is more about the book itself:

Take a sneak peek into the book by taking a look at the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F5hoXb8-mM&feature=youtu.be or by flipping through a few digital pages here: https://issuu.com/ancientfaith/docs/when_god_made_you/13?e=0

Check out the “When God Made You” facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhenGodMadeMe/

To add this book to your classroom collection, purchase a copy here: http://store.ancientfaith.com/when-god-made-you/

Here are some activities that you can do with your Sunday Church School class after reading this book:

Consider taking this challenge from “When God Made You” author Jane G. Meyer herself: “…If your kids are interested in either writing a profile about themselves, or drawing their own portrait, with your permission we’ll be collecting these images to post on the When God Made You facebook page,and maybe on a page here on my own website. And it doesn’t just have to be kids! Feel free to send me your own writing or illustration as well!!!” She posted that challenge in this blog about her book: http://www.janegmeyer.com/blog/when-god-made-you/

Encourage each student to celebrate someone else in their life. Allow time for them to write their version of God’s recipe for that person. What did God think of when He made the other person? Invite the students to write their version of the “recipe” on a recipe card such as this, printed on cardstock: http://www.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/when_god_made_you_recipe_card.pdf. After everyone has finished, read the recipes together and talk about what you’ve written, celebrating the great people who God has created and placed in your lives!

Help young children think about how uniquely God made them with these printable pages: http://cherigamble.com/2015/07/31/god-made-me-special-printables-for-young-children/

Find a suggested lesson plan on celebrating each person’s God-given uniqueness here: https://www.christian-horizons.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/God-Made-Me-Sunday-School-Lesson-Plan.pdf

Create silhouettes of your students’ heads, which they will fill with words or sketches of what makes them unique, as suggested here; then hang them on the walls of your classroom: http://www.trueaimeducation.com/creation-story-for-kids-day-6-animals-man/

Older students can respond to the book “When God Made You” with an artistic poster or journal page. Begin by having each student create a list: “I am” or “Me,” followed by all the things that God poured into them when He created them. The list should include things they can do well, things they enjoy, things about them that are unique. The students can then create a collage using these words (mounting them on colorful pieces of pictures cut from magazines, or some other background, if desired). Here is an example: http://mewithmyheadintheclouds.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-few-things.html

Look at what the Scriptures have to say about God creating us uniquely. For example, read Genesis 1: 27-28, Psalm 118:73-74, Psalm 138:13-16, Job 33:4, Isaiah 64:7, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Jeremiah 36:11, Romans 8:28-30, Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 2:10. Select one to focus on as a family and create a piece of wall art together featuring that Scripture. Find Scripture wall art ideas here: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/scripture-wall-art/

Older children and adults will be encouraged to read this blog post called “What God Says About Me.” The blog tells about the author(who has Down Syndrome)’s search through the scriptures and how learning what God says about His people brought her comfort. Read the blog at http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/what-god-says-about-me.

The Creed: And Ascended Into Heaven, and Sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father

By witnessing the Ascension, the disciples understood that the same Jesus who had lived among the poor and lowly was truly the God of all and would soon be glorified at the right hand of the Father. In the icon of the Ascension, we see the disciples with the Theotokos in the center, looking straight at us, lifting her arms to point to her Son, Jesus Christ, enthroned as ruler of all. “Ruler of All” is what the Greek word “Pantocrator” means. That is also the name of the icon we see in the center dome of many Orthodox churches. For us, the Feast of the Ascension is the reassurance of Christ’s living presence with us and the call for us to recognize Him as Lord and Master of all that exists.

“To say that Jesus is ‘exalted at the right hand of God’ as St. Peter preached… means exactly this: that man has been restored to communion with God, to a union which is, according to Orthodox doctrine, far greater and more perfect than that given to man in his original creation.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 107.)

“…The Ascension of Christ is seen as man’s first entry into that divine glorification for which he was originally created. The entry is made possible by the exaltation of the divine Son who emptied Himself in human flesh in perfect self-offering to God.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 109)

“The Ascension is proof that man was made for heaven, not for the grave; for glory, not for death.” (Coniaris, “The Nicene Creed,” p. 49)

Try this:  Bring an icon of the “Pantocrator” to Sunday Church School. Talk about the Pantocrator icon with your students. If you need a refresher course before beginning this discussion, check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1a17zFbaPU and read this blog post http://www.orthodoxmom.com/2012/03/05/why-i-love-the-christ-pantocrator-of-mt-sinai-icon/. Both offer some of the symbolism behind the icon and can help you help your students better appreciate the icon! Consider making Pantocrator icon magnets like these http://thefrugalgirls.com/2010/10/marble-magnets-tutorial.html together. The children can take theirs home to stick on your fridge, in lockers, etc. Then they can remember that the Ruler of All is present in their everyday life!

Learn more about the Ascension of Our Lord. See https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/teaching-children-about-the-feast-of-the-ascension/ for a variety of ideas of ways to do so!

The Creed: Light of Light, Very God of Very God

The Creed was formed (in part) because of a popular heresy at that time which stated that Jesus was part of God’s creation: that He was just a man. Which part of the Creed speaks of Jesus as truly God?

Shortly after the legalization of Christianity in 312, the Emperor Constantine convened the first ecumenical council. (“Ecumenical” is from the Greek economos, or “household.”) Indeed the entire “household” gathered: over 300 bishops from the Christian world. They came together to combat the heresy of Arianism that declared Jesus to be a “creature” of God, rather than coequal and coeternal.

In the Creed, the Church Fathers stated that Jesus was truly God with the phrases beginning with “Light of Light.” They continued to emphasize the equality of Father and Son with the phrases, “Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father.” In the Creed, “begotten” has a special meaning assigned to it. Jesus was “begotten,” not created. Everything that exists is created by God. Only God Himself, the Trinity, is not created. Jesus existed from all time with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“The Word, that is, the Son, was always with the Father.” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies, Book IV,” ch. 20, section 3, 180 AD)

“Christ Jesus, the Son of God, because of His surpassing love for His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin.” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies, Book III,” ch. 4, section 2, 180 AD)

The divine Son of God was born in human flesh for the salvation of the world. This is the central doctrine of the Orthodox Christian Faith; the entire life of Christians is built upon this fact. They Symbol of Faith stresses that it is “for us men and for our salvation” that the Son of God has come. This is the most critical biblical doctrine, that “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” 66)

Try this: Challenge your Sunday Church School students to pay attention during the next Divine Liturgy you attend. Tell them to pay attention to how we express our belief in Jesus as God. We state this truth during the Creed. But where else in the liturgy do we say, sing, or show it? And how do we do so? The next time you gather together as a class, talk about your findings. For fun, divide the class into two teams and see which team can list the most ways in which we tell or show about our belief in Jesus as God during the Liturgy. Create a master list and keep it posted in your classroom so that you can add to it as weeks go by.

The Creed: One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God

What is the first thing that the Creed states about Our Lord Jesus Christ? Why is it important that Christ is the Son of God? What does that mean for all of humanity?

Adam, who was made in God’s image and likeness, walked with God in the evenings right after the world was created. “Walking with God” is a metaphor that describes the union that first existed between God and man. Humanity was created for that kind of union with God. Unfortunately, very soon that union was broken. Adam and Eve’s sin disrupted it. Since that time, God has worked to reunite mankind with Himself. Jesus Christ, the true God and true man, achieved that reunion.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect human being. He is all God intended for each of us to be. He is Love personified. He lived his life on earth without sin and in complete union with God. His life, death, and Resurrection achieved salvation for the world. Jesus was truly God and truly man.

“Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will, He taught us these things for the conversion and restoration of the human race” (Justin Martyr, “First Apology 23,” 150 AD).

Try this with your Sunday Church School class: use a cup of water and a bowl of (frozen water) ice cubes for an object lesson to help your students think about Christ, who is God, taking on human form. (See page 5-6 of http://www.powermarkcomics.com/comics/pdf/Lesson%207%20-%20Seeker%20Series%20Curriculum.pdf for a detailed description of how to do so, complete with discussion suggestions.)

The Creed: Maker of Heaven and Earth

The statements about God in the beginning of the Nicene Creed include the fact that He is the Creator. Why did God create all things, including humans?

That is a good question: why did God create everything — plants, animals, humans, as well as heaven and the angels? He created everything because of love. We humans are the summit of God’s creation and He wants to live in unity with us. God made us to live in loving union with Him forever. How are we “the summit of God’s creation?” Well, He created us in His own image!

“The Creed starts with the statement of belief ‘in One God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.’ God made everything because He is perfectly good. He made everyone and everything so that all would be good and happy with Him.” (Little Falcons issue #37, “The Creed,” p. 6.)

Try this: Bring mirrors into your Sunday Church School class and talk about this concept. Encourage the students to think about what it means to be made in God’s image. Suggest this way for them to begin to understand the concept: “Look in a mirror. Who do you see? You see your image there, right? That reflection, your image, is not you, yet it reflects you. So it is with God and human beings. We reflect, or share God’s qualities. God is Creator, and He gave us the potential to create. God created freely, and gives us free will over our lives. God created out of love, and gives us the potential to love. This ability to love is the attribute in which we are best able to reflect God’s image.”

The Creed: One God

Is it significant that our Symbol of Faith begins with stating our belief in One God?

The Creed, like everything else in existence, begins with God. “I believe in One God…” Stating that we believe “in One God” first and foremost puts God in His rightful place in our lives: first. Above all else, we believe in God. He is the object of our belief, the focus of our worship, the most important part of of our Faith. So our statement of Faith reflects that by listing our belief in Him first.

It goes on to specify important details about this One God in whom we believe: He is the Father Almighty. Since the whole universe has come from Him, it follows that He is The Father. His might is above all others’. Both of these truths are summed up in the succinct phrase, “Father Almighty.” God is also the Creator (“of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible”).

Try this: Together as a Sunday Church School class, look up these scripture verses that back up each phrase of this first part of the Creed. Talk about how each scripture relates to the phrase from the Creed.

I believe in One God, (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29, 12:32; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6)

The Father Almighty (Genesis 17:1-8; Exodus 6:3; Matthew 6:9; Ephesians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 6:18)

Maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:1-30)

And of all things visible and invisible (Colossians 1:15-16; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11)

“Pronounce the name of God with deepest reverence, remembering that everything was brought by God from non-existence into existence, and that everything that exists is maintained in good order solely by His mercy, omnipotence, and wisdom.” ~ St. John of Kronstadt