Every day has it’s own difficulties, each day it’s own trials, also it’s own joys. Add a family, a spouse and loving and playful children to that and you have a whole different and new matter. Family life is not all stress and toddler’s screams there is so much beauty in the fray but I definitely encourage centering when life is as busy and as harried as it is these days. My perfectly imperfect family needs it and I encourage families to embrace it. This two part series will talk about home school liturgy and Family Worship time. There are still truths for all families regardless the school choice that is best for your family and feel free to incorporate Gospel Rhythms that work for you.
“The Bible is the chief lesson–“But we are considering, not the religious life of children, but their education by lessons; and their Bible lessons should help them to realise in early days that the knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and, therefore, that their Bible lessons are their chief lessons.” Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1
I call it Family Gospel Rhythms. These rhythms are the efforts we take each day to center ourselves on Christ as a family. You may have heard of the phrase Family Worship or Family Devotion before and in Homeschool circles you may be aware of “Circle Time” or “Morning Liturgy” -as I call it-. I hear the terms quite often and I run an instagram and online community called Charlotte Mason Living, so, the questions have been posed a lot lately, “what does Morning Liturgy look like?”, “What does Family Worship look like?”. So, I will show you what we do for both, not as an example but as an encouragement to find what fits for your family. Part one will be about Morning Liturgy and part two will cover Family Worship (Night-time).
“Home is the greatest of all institutions” -Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Now, let me discuss why we do both firstly. I do not think it is necessary in most families to have a morning and night time session of “worship” or “bible time”, what have you. We homeschool so part of our education is biblical, so, Morning Liturgy is part of our school day and led by myself, only. Mom is setting the tone for the school day as Mother and Teacher and Dad leads our Family in Worship at night as Shepherd of the Home. I’m only breaking them into two parts for brevity.
In my yearly “homeschool this year” posts I always share what we do for every subject, so you may have heard me discuss some of these resources. I consider our Morning Liturgy a subject in three parts. We do Morning Liturgy as part of our homeschool education and this includes Catechism/ Scripture Memory, Habits and Bible. I am sharing resources and what we adapt to make it fit within our homeschool educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason).
Catechism – This term may be unfamiliar to you so here is what a Catechism is
“So, what is it anyway? The word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katācheō, which means “to teach, to instruct.” The word is used in Bible passages like Luke 1:4 and Acts 18:25. It can be used for any kind of teaching or instruction, but it came to refer to a specific type of teaching very early in church history. In the early church, new converts were taught the basics of Christianity by memorizing a series of questions and answers. – North Star Catechism
A catechism is just that a series of questions and answers that teach Bible truth.” – North Star Catechism
There are many wonderful versions of Catechisms to choose from and many will be based on the Westminster or Heidelberg Catechisms. Make sure your choice lines up with your family’s belief system by pre-reading and sometimes (not always) wikipedia can be really useful for looking at the history and what’s: Catechisms. We use the North Star Catechism from SojournKids. We feel it is an excellent catechism that is accessible and built upon trusted Catechisms without dumbing down any biblical truths.
Each morning we do Catechism Review and Scripture Memory of scriptures that are listed with our Catechism.
- God exists forever as how many persons? Three. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
So we slowly progress with our Catechism as we memorize. There is no rush to breeze through it. Excellence is a much better friend and habit than the amount or speed that your child knows. ‘
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
I require recitation often (every morning) and sometimes when we are reading something related I’ll ask if that reminds my oldest of something but most times she will point out the similarities on her own or will comment on the world’s circumstances from what she has learned. Like this week in Family Worship singing Holy, Holy, Holy as our hymn we recognized that this line “Who was, and is, and evermore shall be” reminded us of our Catechism verse for Q. 4 Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Children make connections and thankfully if we allow them to do them on their own, the thoughts are better remembered than from lectures or belaboured talks.
…we have relations with what there is in the present and with what there has been in the past, with what is above us, and about us; and that fullness of living and serviceableness depend for each of us upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of. Every child is heir to an enormous patrimony. -Charlotte Mason
Bible- We teach the Bible because it is the greatest living book.
That the Bible isn’t mainly about me, and what I should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.
That the Bible is most of all a story — the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
That — in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him — God won’t ever stop loving his children… with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
That the Bible, in short, is a Story — not a Rule Book — and there is only one Hero in the Story.- Sally Lloyd Jones
Practically, this looks like every morning breaking open the word for our Morning Time you could do this by simply making a reading plan or following one and having your child narrate what they have heard.
Personally, we use a resource called Long Story Short by Marty Machowski from New Growth Press (LSS). This resource goes through all of the Old Testament while pointing to Christ in the New Testament. There is a second volume going through the New Testament once completed. There is the Gospel Story Bible you can use as a companion, we do, but it is not necessary.
This resource is not a Charlotte Mason resource, per say, so I modify to make it fit our educational philosophy because it was the resource that best suited our belief needs. Instead of asking the questions when I have completed the reading I have my daughter narrate (simply, telling it back in their own words) for better memory and it works best like narration always does. There is a bit of a summary following in the lesson book and I use it more as a guide for what I’m listening for in her narrations rather than something I read to her or if she has questions for me after narration, I might use it as a help for myself in answering those questions.
I use LSS as a reading plan mostly, reading the verses and requiring narration. Each week a theme such as “God creates Man” would have us reading, in this case, from Genesis 2 but also connecting New Testament verses, here specifically, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. This is the real reason I like this resource and as we are now in 1 Kings and nearing the end of the Old Testament the next volume mimics this structure by pairing the New Testament scripture with Old Testament verses. So the whole bible becomes a living body of a book. We have been going through the Old Testament for a few years and it has been a truly rich experience, feasting with my daughter on the word. She told me recently how excited she is to move into the New Testament and that joy makes me happy, truly.
“But let the imaginations of children be stored with the pictures, their minds nourished upon the words, of the gradually unfolding story of the Scriptures, and they will come to look out upon a wide horizon within which persons and events take shape in their due place and due proportion. By degrees, they will see that the world is a stage whereon the goodness of God is continually striving with the willfulness of man; that some heroic men take sides with God; and that others, foolish and headstrong, oppose themselves to Him. The fire of enthusiasm will kindle in their breast, and the children, too, will take their side, without much exhortation, or any thought or talk of spiritual experience.” -Charlotte Mason, Vol 1
Habits- Habit training might be a new concept if you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason schooling but it’s an integral part. The forming of habits is an important practice and I am learning desperately needed in modern societies. We are all forming habits intentionally or not and we all struggle with bad habits. The point of habit formation is to see them for what they are and gently develop better ones. This has been as beneficial for myself as much as it has has been for my daughter.
“ ‘Sow a habit, reap a character.’ But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worth while.” — Charlotte Mason
We use a book from Simply Charlotte Mason called Laying Down the Rails for Children for a help when needing relative living examples but also find beautiful stories and poems to read.
Thus, don’t begin with teaching the habit of (insert habit here) – begin with the relationships, appropriate books, ideas, outdoor life, and all those things that fill the child with ideas that make up this living education. – Nancy Kelly
Many Charlotte Mason families study a habit for a specific set time and some families take a more organic approach. We have done both and find the latter to be a better fit for us and move through habits as we see fit. My oldest is nine and we have recently been learning about a habit of “Sweet and Even Temper”. This has been an excellent habit to cover since she has struggled recently with strong emotions that manifest in bad temper. We aren’t always covering habits she specifically struggles with but might park a bit on one if I think she could use it to fully understand. For example we stayed many moons in the Habit of Obedience and revisit it often since the temper and obedience seem to have a lot of crossover. Reading the lovely living poems and stories help her a lot to frame the habits in her mind because she sees the contrasts clearly through listening and narration that she would completely miss through me just telling her that she should do this or that. I am thankful because I also learn from these lessons, it is too much to expect my children to act better than I do myself.
So this is what we do for Morning Liturgy and sometimes days are less than smooth and distractions attempt to divide our mind but know that families learning together, teaching your children to love God and his word is an effort worth taking, my very imperfect family needs it.
The “promises of the covenant necessitate Christian education, because they inevitably impose upon our children a heavy responsibility…for God has enriched them with spiritual treasures in order that they should administer this wealth for the honor of his name and for the extension of his kingdom. Are we warranted in assuming that they will naturally be faithful to their trust and will make the best possible use of their God-given possessions?…Surely, we cannot be too careful or too diligent in training our children for their responsible duties in life” – Louis Berkhof
Resources from above:
North Star Catechism from Sojourn
Long Story Short by Marty Machowski
The Gospel Story Bible
Laying Down the Rails for Children by Sonya Schafer
Other Resources I recommend personally:
New City Catechism
Desiring God: A Baptist Catechism
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones
A Child’s Book of Character Training by Ron and Rebekah Coriell