Happy May Day! Maybe you've already had a little basket of flowers left on your door handle on this 1st day of May.
When my children were little, we enjoyed making and delivering May baskets. For those who don't know about the tradition, May baskets are delivered on May 1. They are traditionally filled with flowers and treats and left hanging on a friend or neighbor's front doorknob. Once the basket is in place, the deliverer rings the doorbell and runs off to hide and watch the recipient's reaction.
My husband's parents lived just two miles north of us when Jill & Brent were small. They were always recipients of a May Day basket. And their over-the-top reactions always thrilled my little cohorts. It wasn't long until Jill & Brent would burst out from the bushes and make their presence known.
As I began thinking about my message for the month, I thought it would be even more meaningful to combine this May Day tradition and add another twist: The Power of Prayer!
I found a Cookie Prayer activity at www.youthministry.com
While it is designed for youth groups, it could easily be adapted for use by a family, a Sunday School class or other special event at church. If it's too late for you to use for May Day this year, you could make some deliveries "just because" or tie the deliveries into the May 6 National Day of Prayer.
The Cookie Prayer activity is probably more applicable to older elementary students and beyond. But you can definitely simplify this activity and do it with younger children. Just lead your children (or Sunday School students, etc.) in a prayer for the family members or friends to whom you plan to deliver the baskets and goodies!
COOKIE PRAYER ACTIVITY
Make your own favorite chocolate chip or M & M cookie recipe (or you can purchase refrigerated dough instead). I've given you a simple bar cookie recipe below that fits the ingredient list included in the prayer.
Depending on the recipe, drop the dough by spoonfuls or pat into a pan for bars.
While baking the cookies, hand out paper and pencils to the children/youth. Tell them they are going to create a cookie prayer using the ingredients from the cookie recipe AND people in their own lives.
Read each ingredient and discuss what its purpose is. Have the child/youth write the ingredient on their own paper and then the names of the people who represent that ingredient. Give them a few minutes to write the names, then read the prayer for the ingredient.
Continue with each ingredient. Be sure to give them time to think of names and to process the prayer and really think about the meaning.
Have the child/youth look at their list of names, then ask them to circle three names they will deliver a cookie (and May basket) to. The creator of this activity suggests that at least one - and preferably two - of the names be people who weren't on the list of favorite "ingredients."
You will need to remind children/youth that they need not reveal to the recipients that they were listed among the "bad" ingredients in the Cookie Prayer. The important thing to reveal is simply that the recipient was blessed with prayer from your child and you!
If you want to deliver more baskets, just have them choose more names.
If you are leaving the baskets at the door, you may want to write a simple note saying, "I prayed for you while we made cookies especially for you!" You could include a favorite Bible verse.
Here are the ingredients and the prayers to go along with the activity:
M & M Cookie Prayer
Vanilla: Adds flavor
Write down the names of people who add flavor to your life.
God, continue to bless these people with creativity and imagination. Let them use their talent for your glory.
Flour: adding flour thickens the mixture and slows the blending process
Pray for people who are too busy for you. Write down the names of people who you wish would spend more time with you.
"Dear Heavenly Father, open the eyes of the people we have written, let them see the value of spending time with me and help me show them the beauty of being together."
Butter - saturated fat - unhealthy
Think of the people who tempt you to do devilish things. Write down the names of people you would like to pray for who may be headed down the wrong path.
Dear Lord, As I write these names, please enter their hearts and show them the right path to take. Help me to be a better influence on them.
Baking Soda - used for raising
Think of the people who help raise your spirits when you are down. Write the names of people who give you a lift.
Creator Lord, thank you for the people who lift my spirits and raise me up to be a better person. I am so blessed to have these positive people in my life... help me to show my appreciation to them every chance I get.
Sugar - temporary or false satisfaction
Think of people who are fake, the people you can’t trust, those who pretend to be sweet but are mean-hearted, people who are deceptive and or self-serving. Write the names of people who need this prayer.
Gracious and Almighty Lord, we need you to hear our prayer for the names we bring before you. Wrap your loving arms around these people so that they feel your warmth in order to melt their self-serving ways. Love them and help us to love them too. Give us patience and the ability to find the good inside of all these people.
Eggs - solidifies the batter, brings it all together, makes it whole.
Think of people who fill you spiritually. Write down the names of all the good eggs who strengthen your faith life.
Dear Loving God, Thank you for bringing these people into my life who make me feel whole. They lift me closer to you and solidify my need for you. Remind me to pray for them often as they also need to have people who strengthen their faith life. Please make me a good egg.
Salt - for seasoning and preserving
Think of people who have authority over you. Write the names of those in authority who you struggle with, those who leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
Dear God. I need you to soften my heart to those who I have trouble respecting. I wish they would change but if not, please help me to change my heart to be more accepting of the authority before me. Just as I respect you as the Almighty One, help me to respect them as well.
M & Ms (or Chocolate Chips) - the bonus, the prize inside!
Think of the people in your life who make your life extra special. Write down all your chocolate chip people.
Loving God, thank you, thank you for surrounding me with these great people. Help me to focus on their great qualities and help me to acquire some of their great features as well. Make me, Lord, a chocolate chip in someone else’s life. As you have gifted each of us with special gifts, we praise you for the magnificent cookie of life you have baked for me. Amen.
Toll House Cookie Bars
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup softened margarine or butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips (or mini M & Ms)
1 cup chopped nuts (opt.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, cream together butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips (or M & Ms) and nuts, if desired. Spread into greased 15- by 10- by 1-inch pan. bake 20 minutes. Cool and cut into squares or bars.
If you don't have a small basket you'd like to use for your May baskets, you can make your baskets from items found around your house.
Here are just a few examples:
Use a cake mix box and cut it down to about 4 1/2 inches high. Wrap the box with flowered gift wrap, etc.
Use a 12-inch doily and fold it into a cone (like the one shown at the top of this post). You can also use construction paper to make a cone.
Back when Jill & Brent were young, we used to use the green baskets that fruits and vegetables came in at the grocery store. However, many of them are now packed in plastic tubs. You may cut the top off the plastic rub and use the bottom for your flowers and cookies. If you wish, you can add leftover Easter grass or shredded paper to the bottom of the tub. You will have to put one cookie in the front and one in the back so that the tub doesn't tip!