LENT STARTS This WEEK  with ASH Wednesday. 

 

If your church does not do an Ash Wednesday service try to mark this special day at home.

Kick it off by eating pancakes on Tuesday. A Traditional way of preparing for a fast, but a fun way to mark the start of this important season.

If your faith community does not have a Lent practice, be it fasting, giving up something, having a family time of prayer of Bible reading or singing, or 40 days of goodwill acts. This might be the time to find something to mark the Lent days. http://sacraparental.com/2016/01/08/lent-with-kids-how-to-create-a-household-lent-plan/?fbclid=IwAR14kc_3deU8PAqC_3mSbnaRb8qh53hGLfqxUTSlpjN2xdxpuPG2Zl8c3LI

or https://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2014/03/weekly-lenten-disciplines-for-households.html?fbclid=IwAR2QbPdmXAC5gVNNmK7g7vedzu_Mpjo3ZCSDdFu0yqcxB0PpixAdPprat-4

OR https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/93773350/posts/2586325834

OR sign up to get the free Lent study for the Jesus Storybook Bible https://www.sallylloyd-jones.com/newsletter-sign-up/?fbclid=IwAR2Li8E7AnG3khWd6dxpdfJVoRDlAxRTou4yqsBP7LQL7UyMLsX7vtCcVjU

all have great suggestions.

Then make time for a special prayer time on Wednesday. If you have had your Palm cross on your door since last year, you could burn this and make a drawing of a cross with its ashes to hang on the fridge this Lent as a reminder that it is a special time.

OR https://buildfaith.org/singing-in-the-dark/?fbclid=IwAR1e1myT_SgWHQtpdGFYwYLIu4StQv5DXAJN_CcYxsZHASJttdORsrXUoac

offers another option.

So why would you have a Lenten practice?

I definitely didn’t when i was growing up, in fact i was the downright annoying cousin who made it clear that when my Catholic Cousin started fasting for Lent, well, that i didn’t have to. We marked the start of Lent with pancakes for breakfast and family much coasted in until Good Friday.

I was such the loser.

From young, my cousins learnt something I had to gain later, that the spiritual practice of recognising Lent has very positive affirming benefits.

I made this discovery way to late to share it with my own family as children, though they all got an annoying message from Mum to enjoy a pancake today because Lent starts tomorrow.

At some time in my Theological Studies, I started taking the practice of Lent seriously.

I have enjoyed Mardi Gras in Merida, and then the still ness of the next mornings as Mass is rung out in the city square, and the excited sound of people interacting is hushed.  The darkness of the interior of the church only helped to shift the pace, though maybe it was the knowledge that this was built by stolen Inca temple stones also added to my unease. IN this experience I learnt the respect for contrast and the importance of finding silence in the season, so continued a meditative practice for the 40 days, till I celebrated it with my home congregation.

I walked a labyrinth in San Juan to mark the start of Lent one year and finished the season walking another, in another hemisphere. That season I deliberately worshipped away from my home congregation through out Lent, and learnt to appreciate their differences more, but used the time specifically to selfishly seek guidance for a heart call. Which was actually answered.

I have tried to do too many studies, and discovered it is best to choose one, and see it through.

I look forward to seeing Christine Sines Lent garden, and keep promising one day i will also make that my Lenten practice. 

This time of looking at the life of Christ, of making time of standing still with my Father has become incredible important to me.

I wish I had shared it with my children when they were young, but while I am here, I can still share with my adult children now. Maybe my grandchildren (not yet here) will get it and come to understand the power of Lent.

May you find a practice to share with your children.

Blessings

Wendy L.

 

Sunday Reflection: Advent in the home

I was steadfast that I wasn’t going to do one of those posts where people list their favourite or the top 10 Advent ideas/calendars. I gave in. I have tried to create the Cross in my Backyard facebook page as a sort of easy access point for those Down under, that are time poor but want to be well informed in the field of Child and Family Worship in a culturally appropriate way. Where both families and those who minister to them can find information that will encourage and inform their home and communal worship.

So I am wadding in.

I hope you will be encouraged to make the Advent season one of importance that counters the culture norm at the moment to remove Chris form Christmas. I strongly encourage Grandparents to practicing  Advent at home, as they may be the only contact their grandchildren have with the real reason for Christmas. The grandchildren that may never set foot in a church because of their parents choices, may be in your home and notice that your home, what you do and what you listen to may influence them in seeking their own faith.

Also Advent practice in the home, allows parents to find the balance that the “silly season ” may be lacking. A few minutes each day to slow down and connect with your family not  only brings God into the centre of your day, but gives the opportunity for family togetherness when the academic year is closing and all the events at the end of the year, ballet performances, graduation services, end of  year parties and assemblies crowd into the day.

Advent Calendars

FREE

http://www.kidsfriendly.org.nz/wp-content/Uploads/Advent-calendar-for-families2.pdf

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e5kv4r4tdljef0w/AdventCalendar2019%20-%20Single.pdf?dl=0&fbclid=IwAR15Ylks55IeRkNWm3KVlX120JHmiGxNEiWfZJ2uSrAxHWc__il5HBG-9Xs

https://www.sustainable-advent.de/en/?fbclid=IwAR17GWXTRlEHtViu5_KFL-BeoTjeOWcR1roRd_y389735FMtQ3RYHJ1BpnU

2019 Advent Calendars

Advent Paper Chains

https://sermons4kids.com/nativity_advent_calendar.htm?utm_campaign=meetedgar&utm_medium=social&utm_source=meetedgar.com&fbclid=IwAR2lWK7r8ixxDFTRTqSg07K5goG8pwXplmWrFpJVzu3cIRT4bt_PRie7dN4

https://thomasmousin.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019AdventCalendar-2.pdf  I love this as you can enlarge each bauble to colour in and add to a Christmas tree

https://www.faithgateway.com/jesus-storybook-bible-advent-calendar-printable/?fbclid=IwAR1nz9jd1hzu5HLljOy9qULYyjYpSybt2tAqQtT8gqqFDfbCpBIi8olOxwY the guide is free but you will need to purchase the Jesus Storybook Bible if you do not have a copy

Requires some materials

https://network.crcna.org/faith-nurture/diy-advent-calendar?fbclid=IwAR0HaAPFv7gnQl_OLW7DPrd9T1mWnQUesZgLVUi2A9GIzFk5i4dbAxXMpGM#.XcmukjzaBoA.facebook

Need to pay for 

https://www.athomeandchurch.org.nz/shop/product/324724/The-Advent-Story-2019–Sold-in-lots-of-5/

Printable Advent Countdown Calendar For Catholic Kids

https://sanctifiedart.org/childrens-ministry/advent-action-calendar-for-children

Multi Lingual

https://www.sustainable-advent.de/en/?fbclid=IwAR17GWXTRlEHtViu5_KFL-BeoTjeOWcR1roRd_y389735FMtQ3RYHJ1BpnU

Multiple suggestions for both home or corporate worship

https://www.strandz.org.nz/advent–christmas.html?fbclid=IwAR0vbR3lou-QO8iq9hjB-NIRvJs9uS66YTamARdl1Jr47tcQn1u28QszKcQ

Advent study for Families

Digital LiFE Packs

An Illustrated Advent for Families: In Light and Darkness

 

Okay so this is too late to start Advent on Sunday. Just make a start as soon as you can and don’t use being late to begin an excuse for not celebrating Advent in the home.

Blessings

Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Finding Faith in the Grandparents house.

The last question to be considered in this series on Grandparents is how to be missional.

What makes Grandparents home an extension of the church that many grandchildren may never enter? How can grandparents express their faith in their own homes, respect their children, but remain true to themselves? Or how to be missional in your own home.

We have discussed the importance of negotiating with adult children, https://wordpress.com/post/thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/706

And the need for spiritual development. https://wordpress.com/post/thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/712

We know that maintaining relationship is at the heart of faith formation, so the grandparents’ home, should be a safe place where all your grandchildren are welcomed and encouraged.

If you can share your faith with your grandchildren, then you might also find that some of the things mentioned below might help to set your house apart and be a place where they can discuss faith issues and use faith terminology, especially important as these types of discussions are no longer acceptable in public places.

But there are also some things that you can share without getting your adult children offside.

Picture books, movies and TV shows can have Christian themes, or in the least themes that are Christian, encouraging these when in your presence breaks no rules but lets you share something of your belief system, in a less direct ways. Storypath http://storypath.upsem.edu and Picture Book Theology http://www.picturebooktheology.com/2018/08/grab-go-15-our-tree-named-steve.html are great sites for finding books that can reflect a not necessarily intentional Christian theme or value. No need to preach just read the books and let your grandchild process the thoughts their way.

If you are allowed the freedom of sharing your faith with your unchurched grandchildren, your home may be the first/only experience of a faith community. In Australia protestants are not used to the concept of their home being an extension of their faith expression. I”m not talking about creating icons, but about creating an environment that reflects your Christian Heritage. Thus, how much you do, or how little depends on what you are feeling comfortable with.

Some things you might like to try are

 

Experiment with what works for you

Have fun influencing the next generation

Blessings

Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Easter Sunday C

Featured

All week something has been stirring in me. And no, it’s not the usual Easter Reflection.

When I wrote last week’s blog I had been thinking that it was important to get families to engage with Holy Week even if they had not managed to do a complete Lenten effort, and had suggested they do that by sharing the Bible stories. But that is only the start, it is the lifetime engagement with these stories that grows our faith.

So, it is the deeper engagement that we really are striving for not just the sharing of the stories. Nor is to too late now that we have officially entered the season of Easter to consider ways of engaging the family in the faith stories?

It is what we do with the stories of our faith that becomes important from here on in. Like the disciples found after the resurrection, now was the time to start making sense of all that had happened, time to start revisiting Jesus’s stories and life experience to consider what they meant in the shadow of the cross.

Easter is the time of encounter of the risen Lord, it seems the perfect time to go beyond just story telling and start to fashion a framework in which your family can process the stories and carry their faith with them for life.

So how do you do that?

Some of the worship programs with children in mind might give us some hints.

Godly play is thought of as a great way of story telling, and many churches just use the stories in worship, but that is not the Godly Play practice, it has been set up to involve participation through the Wondering Questions, and response in the craft, and worship in the sacrament or meal. These are easy to do at home.

  • After reading a Bible story ask some simple wondering questions such as a) I wonder what part of this story you like the best?
  • b) I wonder where you are in this story, or what part of the story is about you?
  • c) I wonder what you could leave out of the story?

Berryman explains “There is no predetermined answers to a wondering question. — trust the searching of the children to find what they need with God and the scriptures”[1]

Craft,

  • Let them respond in a non-verbal manner, by letting your child make, draw, create a response that stems from them.
  • Worship
  • Then finally by Sharing a drink and something to eat together, you not just parody communion but give some close non-structured time for any further responses.

 

OR maybe your child is ore active or requires direction then perhaps the Messy church method, which allows play and structured activities to lead into or reinforce ideas and themes may suit your child.

 

An older child might respond by reading a section of the Bible, learning a Bible verse, drawing a response, writing the passage in your own words, if a structured response suits your child. This can be done weekly or each element done on a different day.

OR follow one of the many programs written especially for families, here are some suggestions by Liz Perraud. https://www.genonministries.org/blogs/blog/talking-about-faith-at-home?fbclid=IwAR3LxdiC42IBuOwITsUt3zox01h3aK9zrV-H9sN7lz6CNvbh2b4FYon7yU0

and https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/assets/fyi-files/Engaging_the_Bible_Together.pdf

https://fulleryouthinstitute.org

StarandZ has this great list https://www.strandz.org.nz/families.html

Hopefully you will find something that suits your family.

Blessings

Wendy L

[1]Berryman, Jerome W., The complete Guide to Godly Play Vol. 1, (2006, Moorehouse Education Resources, Houston), p.56

Sunday Reflection: Palm Sunday C

I Just love Palm Sunday. I must admit to feeling cheated if I end up at a Passion Sunday service instead. I love the pageantry. I love the coming together of community. I love the greenery. And I love getting my cross and pining it back up on the front door, a proclamation to all that “Christ is followed in this house”.

29540970_558055407913581_4298834163156900194_n

I remember with fondness, being caught up in the parades of saints in European towns.How we are all embraced by the event, and visitor and townsfolk form a momentary alliance. I fondly remember watching such a parade on an island in the Dalmatian Coast.All ages are involved from the littlest to the oldest in some capacity or other. It is truly intergenerational. No need for a heading or a statement piece about it, it just is.

The pageantry is a form of storytelling and pilgrim mixed together. It is all age kinesthetic storytelling. The story becomes as much a part of the here and now as the past, it creates conversations and it brings people together. Storytelling is as much a part of Christian practice as prayer or worship, but it extends the relationship to God with others. Christ used it to teach, Berryman uses it well in Godly Play. In modern day worship we make time for it in the “children’s talk”, though I don’t know a congregation that does not maintain that practice even if there are no chronological children, as on a broader plain we are still children of God and still require stories and teaching.

Years ago I was surprised to be shown a  ”teaching church” in  Rothenberg en Tibor, there was a trap door in the Balcony and we were told that this was where, in the middle ages  puppetry was used as a teaching method. It reminded me that stories have long been a favoured teaching tool of the church.

Unfortunately, I was running late this morning and I missed the pageantry, I left without my cross, but the season of Lent is ending regardless, we are entering Holy week and I am still struggling with playing catch up for the two Lenten studies I have actively pursued. So, in my tardiness (or the messiness of life), may I encourage you like I encouraged my families in the past, that now is the time to jump in with the stories, to prepare our little ones at home during Holy week, to let them know that Easter may mean hot cross buns and chocolate eggs but that these stand for something more, a way of telling the story. So, don’t just eat your hot cross buns but share the story of the cross, which is on each bun, that the spices used in the bun are there to remind us of the scents used in His burial. Show them that the egg represents life, something new comes out of the egg, and that Easter eggs are traditionally empty because the tomb is empty.

This week can be as simple as picking up the Beginner’s Bible and reading a section each night, starting at today’s chapter “The true King”  until we reach “Jesus is risen” on Sunday.

Or you might like to read the Lost sheep Easter Stories https://www.lostsheep.com.au/stories-overview/

Or jump in for the last week of The Jesus Storybook Bible Lenten study. https://www.sallylloyd-jones.com/newsletter-sign-up/?fbclid=IwAR0NfBHINg74GXRxWIBEFMINFlJ7yexebChQ9_Q0OWt_9VuwQzSmLG7Joy4

For something more structured try https://www.childrens-ministry-deals.com/collections/10-free-resources-for-easter/products/free-easter-devotional-for-families?fbclid=IwAR0aP9OeOC1hLkcpucOGwnKpEtnYnC4CQhoVhRradjY8zxzyEguazCLRarA

If your family is more creative you could purchase the Illustrated Children’s Ministry Holy Week pack. https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/collections/lent-2019-resources/products/illustrated-holy-week

But this last week of lent, no matter whether you are on holiday and a long way from your faith community or enjoying the School Holidays at home, Tell the story and share the faith.

Blessings

Wendy l.

Why practice Lent at home?

So I’ve eaten my way through a tonne of pancakes on Tuesday and I’ve attended an Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, nothing else now to do until for the 40 days until Easter, right?

IMG_3598

NO. Lent is the season of preparation. There is more to be done than just attending services each Sunday or heading to church for the annual visit come Easter. Yet that was basically the pattern of my experience of Lent as I was growing up.

 

So why would I want to encourage families to adopt Lenten practices when I grew up without any in a Christian Household and nor did we practice Lent as my children were growing up?

This was the question I asked myself as I tried to prepare a Lenten list of resources for Families this year.

 

What has changed in me that I now feel that this opportunity for spiritual development and community building should be embraced and practiced by the whole Christian community, and especially by family groups?

This is the list I came up with

  1. Practicing at home extends the experience of Lent into the lived experience, and beyond the church door.
  2. It extends the opportunity for children to learn and use the concepts and words of faith, away from the Church buildings, especially when faith practices are being discouraged in the wider communities and in our schools
  3. It unifies the Christian community, Catholic and Protestant.
  4. Gives an opportunity to deepen our spiritual practices of Biblical Study, Prayer and Action.
  5. Allows us to share intergenerationally, grandparents, parents and children.
  6. Faith Transmission appears to be stronger in families where faith practices are encouraged in all family members daily. Ie https://parentingforfaith.org/topics/resourcestry John W. Westerhoff III”s Will our Children have Faith (Harrisburg, Moorehouse, 2012) and even youth studies showing the influenceshttps://theconversation.com/new-research-shows-australian-teens-have-complex-views-on-religion-and-spirituality-103233
  7. United Nations Convention of the rights of the child to spiritual expression https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

 

As well as my own personal experiences as I have opened my life up to Lenten practices and what I have observed in the children of the Families I have ministered to.

 

So if you have never experienced a Lenten preparation may I make these very simple starting practice suggestions, and encourage you to find time this Lent to be intentional and share it with your family.

Mark the time.

I have found young children find it a very long season, it helps if they can count it down so try https://www.catholicicing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/printable-lenten-calendar-packet.pdf, even the very young like to colour in a square each day.

OR https://www.max7.org/en/resource/lentscripturechain, for the very young you could omit the bible verses.

OR https://www.mothersunion.org/sites/default/files/resources/public/A%20lent_calendar%202019.pdf?utm_source=The%20Mothers%20Union&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10300814_Mothers%27%20Union%20February%20Newsletter&utm_content=Lent%20Calendar%20title%20link&dm_i=1I8Y,64S5Q,B06CYJ,O3TK5,1

OR https://www.thykingdomcome.global/posts/79/new-family-prayer-adventure-map-launched-at-synod?fbclid=IwAR0xjT09boyR0XqtKUOKdTKDJlDRukXrHIwMWK7_4rgkzvgjzFgiDdNkerc

FOR family studies try

If you use the Jesus Bible Storybook, here is a list of readings for each day https://gallery.mailchimp.com/ab72d4fa9d5333c84cac6e2b1/files/ccf110c4-5b89-46fb-a561bc1714a8ab83/The_Jesus_Storybook_Bible_Lent_2019_Printable_Reading_Guide_by_Sally_Lloyd_Jones.pdf

OR http://www.ctmresourcing.org.au/2019-lenten-resource

OR http://www.conversations.net.nz/uploads/2/6/9/4/26944819/for_god_so_loved_the_world_lenten_study.pdf?fbclid=IwAR36JsuiFUVUs1iXw_SYhvRUbmu9xJfDWBQfGIuC7AgO7TnoVywaisAinjI

OR http://sacraparental.com/2014/03/01/lent-with-kids-getting-ready-for-week-1/?fbclid=IwAR3J3OuXenTMXIxkDzopMWz66QMQL3XzM6ilE_kG22G8RzbF1rkoyE22hhM

OR for a small financial outlay, for a down loadable guide try https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/collections/illustrated-family-resources/products/an-illustrated-lent-for-families-reflections-on-prayer  great for families that love colouring

SING IT OUT

You might like to sing it out, it could be changing what you do listening to Christian radio station, or playing any of Seeds music https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com

or https://www.fischy.com

GOOD DEEDS

Or do Lent with a good cause see https://40acts.org.uk/?fbclid=IwAR37q6DUWNPDpVVwZTeHRZ-2jAzAdHSHdAMe1BFsMHOnv9XGYSSyTZ73zLU

OR https://www.lentevent.com/?fbclid=IwAR2WXTnJoTMeobhMH9bJQOPD5qpyRLtE8qiJEQISeH2Z0BE0lsNcZtCu4ys

Give it a go.

And no it’s never too late to start.

Blessings

Wendy Lewis

Shopping

I find this the best time to pick up little bits and pieces for the children’s worship space.

And if you are a parent this is a great time to pick up some items that you can use with your little ones at church during worship and still have at home, to reinforce the service message during the week.

I love shopping, or rather browsing at this time of the year in Australia. The holiday’s are over and I find this the best time to pick up little bits and pieces for the children’s worship space. All those crowded spaces are easy to move around in. The shopping centres are cool and inviting on a hot day and so I  want to encourage you to shop. Yep. Shop. It’s also a great time to pick up genuine bargains after the post christmas sales. And don’t forget that there is nothing nicer than internet shopping after a long hot day out and about either.

About this time last year I posted on how to set up the basics for a Church worship space, so recheck that blog  Spiritual Delights or Toy Box tat! As some of those places have since closed down, I will be changing some ideas and adding to that first list.

By the way I have now set up 3 church children’s worship spaces and am more than happy to help you out with yours. Just contact me here.

Please note that it is also important to include items that are significant to the area or culture of your congregation.

My general rule of thumb is, 1) no noisy toys, toys that make sound themselves, these toys are for use in worship and should not distract other worshippers from their worship.

2) They should be able to be regularly, hygienically cleaned

3) made of as natural and non-toxic materials as possible.

4) the aim is for spiritual play. Not entertainment.

I am educationally influenced by Montessori, Piaget, etc.

I love Ikea, they are well tested, recall when needed and most toys are built to last. Most products can be washed and even tumble dried. Also Ikea is a very family friendly place to shop. If you find things like I’ve suggested elsewhere then please feel free to buy those. The idea, not the product is my aim here.

There are still some heart cushions available, great for expressing the idea that God is Love, and God loves you

Definitely heart bears: reason as above. https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/70215530/

play food: this one has loaves and fishes so perfect for “feeding the crowd”, communion, “https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/20262005/

Lion, perfect size for small hands, great for story of Daniel or Joseph and faith  symbolism https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/00402846/

Other animals in this series are great for general play and respond to ideas of how to act as a community. And for parents they easily fit in the back pack for church. https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/00402846/

This Lion is super large and makes a great cushion or faith statement in the Children’s worship area, https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/60402834/

Pigs, https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/30298004/ the prodigal son, or https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/40260449/

Little People https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/30242615/ Great for imaginative play, crowds, people, retelling stories.

Boat https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/40260393/ Great for stories of Jesus and the disciples on the water, or fishing or Jonah or Paul.

Building Blocks https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/40260393/  Ideal for free expression, building walls, or cities, even the tower of Babel.

Idea’s you won’t find in Ikea

Play mats, such as a city landscape

Safe mirror like this one in Target https://www.target.com.au/p/bright-starts-sit-see-safari-floor-mirror-trade/61541412 Theme: God loves You

Duplo’s creative play -my first emotions https://www.target.com.au/p/lego-reg-duplo-reg-creative-play-my-first-emotions-1-861/61172708 Good for emotions of psalms or a recreation of a Bible story. Might be useful.

Nesting sets, especially the blank ones. Great for recreating faith stories, or imaginative play.

drawing figurine, great for showing emotions, so, good for interpreting Psalms, and the emotions in Bible stories.

Rainbow jigsaw puzzle. God’s promise.

Noah’s ark

Nativity set

Baby dolls, especially mixed race and gender.

Battery operated candles

CRAFT Bits and pieces

Thick coloured paper

Paper plates

Drawing paper or scrap books

Crepe paper, i love this for texture and for it’s ability to break easily, and that it can be purchased in rolls or longer pieces.

My preferred drawing implement is washable textas’, They can be easily wiped off skin or pews. Not all washable texta’s are well washable, i love Crayola.

Crayons don’t, in my experience wash off, and pencils always need sharpening at the wrong time and seem to become an easy weapon.

I love felt, especially stiffened felt, as they make good backgrounds on which to stick felt pieces,

Felt pieces, or squares of many colours great for recreating Bible stories with.

I stay clear of foam as it breaks and becomes a chocking hazard.

Musical Instruments

Buy handkerchiefs to sway to the rhythm

Buy or make soft shackers

Anything else that does not have an overpowering sound ( it does not need to compete with the organ or band)

Have fun setting up your worship space or buying things to take in their church bags. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and encourage your little one to find an expression for their spiritual development.

Let us know what else you find useful so we can share our ideas.

Blessings

Wendy L.

 

 

Ideas for Christmas Day services that might help the children relate to what is happening.

More often than not Australians end up at church’s that are different from their home church on Christmas Day. Often this is because they have traveled to be close to family or  because they have decided to attend the church of a relative.

All to infrequently this is because they have wondered in to just attend a service, but might be the case if they are already on holiday.

These are some generic ideas that might help you keep your children engages with what is happening no matter where you end up. If you are are a church that uses the RCL please see the previous last 3 posts for specific ideas.

If you are a small congregation please feel free to print these pages and hand them to parents/guardians as they arrive.

No matter where you are or where you go, the important part is that you enjoy this holy day together.

Remember that you have bought your child to worship. Enjoy engaging them in it.

Sit towards the front so they can see what is going on

Explain what is going on. 

Read during the Bible readings,

Pray during the prayers, Precise, what is said, so that your child can understand.

Colour, Draw or Craft during the sermon.

Craft or drawing or play are for spiritual responses not for a perfectionist piece that can be shown off.

Remember that little ones will need their own space to move and wiggle.

 Also leave when you need to but make sure you return quickly.

 You and your child/ren have as much right to worship as any other member of the congregation.

 All these ideas have been chosen to make use of what you might have with you, rather than trying to locate items that you might not have.

Read/Watch the Christmas story with your child

try https://www.lostsheep.com.au/stories-overview/

The most relevant are Bethlehem Town  and Jed and Roy McCoy

and if the church you are at is following a Refuge theme this year try Jesus was a Refugee

You can read on line or purchase the books if you have time. All of these have an activity pack for download at $A4.95.

Which you can print off, at an Officeworks if you are already away from home, many Hotels will let you print too. Or ask someone at the church to print it for you.

There are more than enough activities for young and old to enjoy and maybe even share.

OR down load the Bible for Kids app on your phone https://www.bible.com/kids

Take any children’s story book Bible with you, read to or let them look at the pictures.

MAKE A NATIVITY SET: Down load this free nativity set http://www.catholicicing.com/diy-printable-nativity-for-kids

print on thick cardboard for them to colour and make during the sermon.

BRING: a nativity set for the children to play with or take dolls, and animals to make up a child friendly playset of your own.

Bring a baby doll to play with.

PRAY: Use the nativity to suggest a prayer for each person represented ie for the baby to have a safe home to grow up in, ie for dad to love Mum, for people to care enough to find you etc. (if you do not have a play nativity you can make one here

BRING  texta’s non-toxic, child safe and washable and drawing paper or a journal.

Above all enjoy this special time together.

Blessings

Wendy L.

 

 

Why we shouldn’t disregard Hannah’s Prayer

Some stories in our tradition shouldn’t be ignored. They may seem to just be a part of a much larger narrative, but by dismissing them as only that, we dismiss the teaching opportunity that they could bring to today’s audience.

Hannah’s prayer (1 Samual 2: 1-10) and it’s back story (1 Samual 1:1-28) is as much a Child and Families dilemma today as it was when this story passed into our literature. And though it may be argued that it was written by a male, using a male voice for a male audience, this does not stop it having something pertinent for today’s women or families.

Bullying is a problem today as in Hannah’s time. The situation might be different; we may not, in 21st Century Australia, have legal multiple wives, but we do still have bullying. (1 Samual 1:6) It is not an issue of the situation, it is an issue of humanity. We still live in community, be that in families or faith communities, school communities etc. Children need to know that as well as all the techniques, and help options available, they can also talk it over with God. God is big enough to take the non-PC (politically correct) words, as they struggle to work out what really matters to them. They neither need to feel or be alone when there is a relationship with God.

Children need to hear biblical/faith options available to them to. I remember as a child I only had one weapon of defence in my being bullied arsenal, I was told to turn the other check, (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29) which I literally did, and came home bruised and battered after each round.

I didn’t know that I could tell God about it. That God cared that Miss red hair, was making MY life miserable. That there were more responses in the christian bullying arsenal than “get clobbered” that’s what God wants of you!!

Parents also need to hear the bullying stories, they need to know that they don’t have to take a bullying relationship, that God cares enough to listen to the hurt and the pain, and not just be happy with a further damaging response.

Those who have been surrendered by our parents to others, for our safety, also need to hear Hannah’s prayer. She has a way of keeping a child safe, of not keeping him in a house where bullying is rife. The solution sounds dramatic to our ears, send the child away, return the child to God’s care, yet children fostered, or sent to family members need to hear that God is also with them, that difficult solutions come from difficult situations.

Advent begins next week, and we hear the story of another women in a difficult situation, God didn’t leave her destitute to bring up this baby alone. No, intervention was taken in the form of a dream, to change Joseph’s mind. God is a part of the lives of those called. We all need to hear that message, that we have a place to take our hurt and our confusion. That we are loved.

sites for practical help for Kids

https://kidshelpline.com.au

https://www.amf.org.au

https://www.childhood.org.au

For Parents https://www.relationships.org.au

https://www.1800respect.org.au

http://www.dvrcv.org.au/knowledge-centre/quizzes/quiz-warning-signs

Blessings

Wendy L.

 

Divorce and Mark 10:2-16

This weeks RCL Gospel reading is Mark 10:2-16. In my NRSV, they carry the headings, Teaching about Divorce and Jesus Blesses the Little Children.

For most in Children and Family Ministry it is another bonanza weekend, not just the lovely child relatable verses on Jesus and the teacher, but the verses on Divorce.

Now many will be tempted I suspect to treat this reading as two distinct readings, erring, probably to the last 3 verses, rather than dealing with the first 11 on divorce or the whole 14.

Divorce, is not a topic any self respecting Child and Family minister can avoid. It happens, it is legal, and some people who have a literal faith find the issue difficult to speak about except in absolutes and complicated grief. Walking with anyone in the messiness of life, especially with children during these occasions, is not just a calling, but a faith response.

As I said in my Tuesday’s blog, taken as a whole this reading speaks to me of the Kingdom of God, where everything is permanent and thus secure and all, including the children are not turned away. (Look at the form and structure of the readings from Mark  8:33 to understand how I’ve reached this conclusion).

Helping families to find secure welcoming environments is the definition of  Child and Family Ministry.

This is an occasion when all my “hats” come out, the Grief and Couples Counselling, the theologian, the child and family work, the teacher, and not just in healing broken lives but in helping families stay whole and supported.

To that aim I’m going to share some resources that I have found useful for helping create stable environments. This list is not definitive and I encourage anyone with other resources to share them with others by adding them in to comments this week.

https://www.relationshipsvictoria.com.au

http://www.togethernessproject.org

https://au.reachout.com/tough-times/addiction

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://www.sands.org.au

https://www.rachelsvineyard.org.au/index.html

https://www.max7.org/en/resource/7waysfamilies

https://parentingforfaith.org/about

https://1for50share.net/filecat/families-parenting/

https://www.lifelongfaith.com

https://www.parentfurther.com

Blessings

Wendy L.