Sunday Reflection: Mark 7:24-37, A Child Theology response

One of my favourite memories are of the dinner parties my parents had when I was very little. My brother and I would eat with the adults, the same meal at the same table at the same time, but smaller portions for our tinier tummies. We would start with Grace, and when we had permission to leave the table, we would slide down out of our seats and crawl underneath the table, between thick trunk like legs, I would love the pretty shoes of the women, enjoy the smells of their perfume or soap but best was the special treats smuggled down to us by emerging hands from above the table top as we crawled past, a strawberry or a chocolate, a bit of a biscuit or cake. We had quite a feast before we left the special world under the table. We did not find the family dog in our crawl through this wonderful leg trunk world. We had a dog, but he lived outside, where he was fed the family scraps, just like the pet in the story. (The Greek word used in this passage suggests a family pet).

Too big now to crawl under the table, just writing about it takes me there now.

Whenever I read or hear Mark 7:24-30, I am there again.

By looking at this story through the focus of the child, I also bring my childhood persona. What a picture of Intergenerational gathering, adults, children and the family pet all gathering together around the one table that this passage paints. It is not a picture of equality, of equal distribution, but rather one of everyone being present getting their fill. No-one is left out or forgotten. A beautiful reminder that at God’s table everyone is feed. In our ministry shouldn’t we do likewise, the Intergenerational Movement feel it is, this is a great passage to remind us that we don’t have to serve everyone the same amount but they do all get to be fed at God’s table.

But the Gospel reading for Sunday does not stop there it heads into a very adult story of healing? Or does it! Every parent can hear themselves in the verse 36, trying to settle an overexcited child, we will tell them, not very convincingly of course to settle down, don’t be so load, bottle up your excitement. This is how I see this request by Jesus to “not tell anyone”, because for me who could contain their excitement, a life changing miracle, the ability for someone to hear and to talk well. How after being inarticulate or being one to witness such a miracle could you stay quiet. Big brother disciplining a younger child for over the top excitement that might just upset a parent!

Unfortunately, the words used in Vs.36, can have a sinister aspect, and at the start of Child Safety Week, I feel remiss not to point it out, one of the forms of coercive control is to tell someone not to tell. Any child who has been subject to abuse with the extra threat of do not tell anyone, must surely quake at this reading and others like it when Jesus implores his followers not to tell. Maybe it is a normal request, we might ask ourselves? But why then does it feel wrong, might our emotions counter? The confusion heightens the abuse.

When we preach these passages, it is important to remember that these words may trigger an unwanted memory for someone in the congregation. How are you looking after your congregation? How are you imparting these passages? Are you encouraging the wrong use of these words or supplying a healthier reason for them? What pastoral tools do you have in place so that those that are vulnerable are held, and supported by safe people and safe structures in place?

When we look at a passage by putting the child at the centre, even those passages that appear to be absent of a children’s voice, the lens of exegesis can throw up issues that other forms of analysis do not.


Wendy L.


Teaching our Young

I am writing this in Canada, where my snow made family are enjoying the snow thanks to a prize my husband won from Mogul Travel.

As I am not currently allowed to ski, I snow shoe or wander my days away.

In fact I think I pray more on a skiing holiday, not just for my family though there is definitely a rise in requests for protection, but I pray for the people I encounter, I pray for the environment, I just enjoy long conversations with God about a whole heap of things that get pushed out of the way in the everyday.

But that’s not what is on my mind to write about today.

We have a room overlooking one of the ski runs and so from my vantage point I see the children being taught. Some are being taught by the snow school in small groups, the youngest starting out mostly on ski’s not boards. Most of the time the teacher/instructor is in the lead gauging out a path and showing the children where to turn. Others line the group up and ski down the hill a bit, then encourage each in turn to make their way down to the instructor/teachers side.Then there are the parents, usually with a single child in tow, some parents ski behind acting as a barricade, just fare enough away for independence but close enough to reach out in an emergency. Other parents ski with the child between their legs, showing them when to turn and giving comfort as well as guidance. Then there are the young boarders, usually in small groups, all encouraging and egging each other on. This group try new things, they are usually young or pre-teens, and I’ve noticed that when they spill or go down this group, eventually work their way back to their mate to check on them.

It also takes me back to when we first put our kids on ski’s, both were about 3, we taught them some basics, then had them skiing down little slopes or very big moguls, sometimes we were in front, sometimes we skied behind and other times we skied with them firmly wedges between our legs. We frequently went in for hot chocolates. And to warm up little fingers, toes and noses. But long before they were first on “planks” ski’s they had been up to Mt Hotham, where we ski in Australia, regularly since they were born. They were surrounded by other skiers, they heard the stories, knew the terms, One has the most beautiful technique, the other gives all she has got and every run is a race, against herself if no-one else.

I need to admit that we did better with teaching our children to ski than in establishing life long faith habits.

And this is what I really wanted to write about.

What if anything can we learn about teaching our young.

For one thing Christianity is not always caught it is taught, but teaching involves the everyday moments. It involves hearing the stories, being regular, listening to the enthusiasm of those involved in faith. Some might call this organic.

It involves finding the learning method that suits their age and stage. Erikson’s and Piaget’s theories point us in those directions.

They need space to practice on their own, Montessori’s theories support this observation.

They need to be shown different ways too. Our five learning methods show that we need a spread of different experiences to find our best learning style.

Studies are showing us that this new generation of youth want to be connected to the larger picture, not isolated as a seperate body of learners.

We need to practice our faith at home using multiple methods to help our children find their best faith expressions.

We need to stay connected to faith communities that can encourage us and them.

We need to live our faith, and show them how they can live theirs.

Yes there is a lot to learn from skiing!


Wendy Lewis


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.

play food: this one has loaves and fishes so perfect for “feeding the crowd”, communion, “

Lion, perfect size for small hands, great for story of Daniel or Joseph and faith  symbolism

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.

This Lion is super large and makes a great cushion or faith statement in the Children’s worship area,

Pigs, the prodigal son, or

Little People Great for imaginative play, crowds, people, retelling stories.

Boat Great for stories of Jesus and the disciples on the water, or fishing or Jonah or Paul.

Building Blocks  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 Theme: God loves You

Duplo’s creative play -my first emotions 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.


Wendy L.



Are we abusing the senior church members by not being intergenerational?

I had a stimulating discussion last week, with someone who has done much to advance the cause of Child and Family Ministry in Australia. During  that conversation, what has, to me, become a very common question with respect to anything to do with children in the church came up and that is the question about whether the concept/practice is abusive to the children? We were, on this occasion, discussing the issue of children in worship. Many people have written about this issue, either academically or within the blogging community so there are a few views out there, on both sides of the fence. Now I could dive in and add to the body of work. But I started to think differently about this issue. Are we abusing the senior church members by not being intergenerational?

These are some of the things that came quickly to mind.

What we have learnt about the ageing brain is that if we don’t use it we lose it, we need to stay engaged and we will not continue to grow our mind by doing the same things. Change and challenge is an essential part of maintaining brain health in the elderly. When we change our worship processes we are staying engaged, our minds are being stimulated.

As a teacher, I learnt about multiple intelligences. In a traditional worship service, we may not be engaging all of our ways of learning, thus by introducing different ways of learning into the worship experience we are opening our seniors up to stimulation and change. This may not be happening in other areas of their lives.

In an intergenerational environment, everyones experience can inspire others and it is an environment that encourages the senior to share their experience and to be valued for whom they are. Their more complex life stories can encourage and inspire others.

One of the experiences I valued most was the smile that would cross an elderly wheelchair bound member of our community, when the children were moved to the front of the church and she could see them. She had no children or grandchildren, and during worship was the only time that her life was filled by the wonders of children.

The Australian Human rights Commission, states that

There are certain human rights and freedoms that are particularly relevant to older people, including the right to:

• an adequate standard of living including access to adequate food, clothing and housing• the highest possible standard of physical and mental health
• work and fair working conditions
• be safe and free from violence

• be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

• privacy
• family life.

Click to access HRA_older.pdf


At church we often feed body and soul,

Our elderly often “work” alongside others

we need to work for a safe environment for all

as a Child of God, they are participating in God’s family.

Thus church is a place where these human rights can be experienced, an Intergenerational experience at church is one that deepens these opportunities, and allows opportunity to grow, or at best maintain brain function.

To abuse is to not allow the senior to experience their rights. Rather than placing them on the outer, an Intergenerational approach seeks to engage all, value everyone, and experience worship in a multi intelligent format.

Now over to you


Wendy L.

If we do it – will they come?

My home congregation is ageing, but does that mean that just because at present the youngest are not part of our congregation that we should not prepare as if they are?

It is so frustrating preparing elements of worship that are not going to be fully utilised, so it is easy to see that congregations would just give up, expecting that they could spend their time on something really useful, rather than being prepared for something or someone that doesn’t appear.

But as soon as I think along those lines or hear others proclaim them I immediately hear the story of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25: 1-13, and remind myself to be ready for even the youngest child to have an opportunity to have a faith experience.

Because they will, find their way into our aging congregation. They might be bought  by Grandma or Grandpa, they might be visiting friends or family in the area, or they might be new to the area and checking out the local churches.

I have even been involved in congregations that claim they have very little young children, but what they mean is that they don’t have them every week. Yet when things are provided for children and families in worship their regularity has increased, prompting the congregation to wonder “where have all these children come from”

Sometimes it doesn’t take very much, the creation of a families space, near the front of the sanctuary. Some quality Christian story books, or quiet clean and safe toys. Some children’s bibles and work sheets or colouring in sheets on the readings or theme of the day. you might like to try or, which can be downloaded and printed on the day, depending on the number of children you have present. Don’t forget to have pencils or texta’s that are sharpened or working.

Allocate an Elder or volunteer who will welcome any family when they arrive, and help them settle in, or understand the service.

You might also look at having a change table in the toilets, and some safe steps or children’s toilet seat. Just in case!


Wendy L

Australian and New Zealand children’s resources for use in Worship.

A few Sunday’s ago I listened to an empassioned couple, Kaye and Tavis Beer, speak about their work in the Northern Territory Anglican Diocese supporting Indigenous Priests working in their own communities. I was impressed with the children’s books and programmes that they had produced which were not just in the local languages but created by the local populations. They deserved a wider audience, their programmes especially could be used in a number of ways in broader contexts than they were created in. They need funds to support their work and you can contact them through CMS Victoria, PO Box 2150, Rangeview, 3132.

They are one of many hard working Australians called into Ministry and creating amazing work in Australia for Australians.

The Intergen, resources written by Beth Barnett and her co-workers, sets out an Intergenerational Service around the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) for each week. They use multi learning methods and clear visuals as well as word prompts. This is an Australian product that can be obtained by contacting

My wonderful supervisor has written an informative book for congregations entitled Building Emotional Health and Wellbeing: A Pastoral Handbook for Ministry with Young People By Vivienne Mountain, available to Uniting Churches in Australia through It is hoped that it will become available to other denominations, so approach the right people in your Denominiation or contact Chris and let him know you want this resource. has some wonderful children’s resources to be used within an intergenerational setting.

The great work of the South Australian Uniting Church Synod can be found here

Click to access intergen-key-directions-pdf.pdf

Liturgical Colouring in

Andrew McDonough’s Lost Sheep books and activities

Across the ditch is Connectible and

Please let me know of others so we can add them to this list.


Wendy L.


Faith Parenting is 24/7

A really quick post today. Just to let you know of a new and older book that can help your faith parenting 24/7, and some websites that might also be of interest.

The new Godly Play book, Godly Play at Home has just been released and you can download it on Kindle and have it in double quick time.

As we all know, we are only at church for about 1 hour a week, which means that faith formation is mainly done away from the church. So every little idea that helps you connect with your child about faith is important. So this book is a valid addition .

If you haven’t come across Robbie Castleman’s Book Parenting in the Pew, also downloadable on Kindle

this is one of my favourites for inspiring you to persevere, with that 1 hour a week at church.

You might enjoy this family bible study from forward movement

A website for faith families

OR can be multilingual so check if it’s available in your home language.

OR maybe this is more suited to your belief system

What ever you do with your 24/7. We are told the most important stepping stone of faith formation is relationship, so work on building a great relationship with your child from the beginning. And use anything suggested on this page as a way of building that relationship.



Ideas for families this Holy Week

After almost 40 days we are almost there. Holy Week begins this Sunday and as I had said earlier in the week within the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) we are spoilt for choice, with readings for 3 themes Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday or the Annunciation of the Lord this Sunday.

Many families have made Lent a special time of family studies, compassion outreach, acknowledgement or fasting, to indicate this lead up to the most significant days in the Christian calander are important.

Many of us have had good intentions but well- life got in the way.

The good news is that you can still make these last few days special. Helping your children understand the significance of the this time of the year.

Now this can also be a big ask at this  time of the year. Victoria and Queensland start term holidays next Thursday, and the rest of the country have a long weekend. A perfect time for families to catch up, without parents losing holiday time. So there is packing, arranging with extended family members and preparing the car/tent/caravan to get everyone to where they need to be.

Below I have collated some ideas that might still work for you amongst all this business, including some ideas for the Easter weekend services, which you may or may not physically get too, because of the exhaustion of travel or simply because you are unsure of how they or your children might cope in a different church environment to the one you are use to.

Next week I intend to publish ideas for Good Friday services early Tuesday and ideas for Easter Sunday services late Tuesday (all going well!!! -yep I live in the real world too) also in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish and Swedish Even though Lent is almost over, for those families who have not travelled through all 40 days of Lent this is a handy tool in explaining what Lent is and how close we are to the end. Choose the coloured download for this.

For the last week of lent

So love the Lost Sheep books, there are now 4 for Easter and if you have internet connection you can read them on line, (just click on the easter books at the beginning and on the second row) or you might still have time to buy the books on line either through or (these little soft cover books are light and won’t add too much to your luggage)

Also on line at Lost Sheep you will find free activities or for a small fee (about A$5) you can download so many activities that your clan will never be bored this long weekend no matter what your age. Play and engagement with the stories Wonderful.

I would suggest that Dave the Donkey is a great read this Sunday

Then read The Way of the Cross during the last week of Lent (next week)

On Maundy Thursday read Peter and the Rooster

On Easter Sunday enjoy Mary and the Gardner

For Easter morning

A helpful way of using play to travel from Good Friday to Easter Sunday with your family. Treat both websites as one for maximum benefit. Also make sure you download and print out all pages to take away, and for health reasons don’t use toilet rolls. I recommend printing on thicker paper (available from Officeworks) this means they stand up independently. A tissue box is also recommended I suggest at this time of the year you will probably have a spare one during your travels.

for Protestant use I would only use Mary in p.6 and delete p.7. or just use the empty cloth.

For Easter morning When using with younger children please make sure that you use objects that will not pose a chocking hazard)

Multi lingual

many language options here so use the side adjusters and find video’s and ideas in many languages.


Let them play with soft toy donkey, heart pillow (from ikea), a soft sheep. These are all images they will encounter at this time of the year.

For teenagers

Make it a rule to say Grace and share a meal together and discuss any themes or issues that arise with your teenager. Giving them your time and space to work through the ideas that come to them this week is invaluable.

They could even start a Journal or diary on line or physically for the last few days of Lent.

Or try this from Bible Society Australia (Let their phones work for Good)

Gospel readings scheduled in the RCL for are from John

Monday John12:1-11

Tuesday John12: 20-36

Wednesday John 13: 21-32

Thursday John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Friday John 18:1-19:42

Try reading from the Beginners Bible or on line at use the ERV when sharing with the whole family


Whatever you do or wherever you are and whomever your with, keep sharing the Good News that’s the important part.

Lent 2: Ideas to help the 3’s and under connect with the RCL readings this Sunday

You may need to organise some resources before Sunday and place in a special Church Bag so you can pick it up and run and have everything with you to share worship with your little one.

You might need:

The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago can also be purchased on Kindle

The Rhyme Bible by L.J. Sattgast

The Early Reader’s Bible

The Lion Picture Bible

Black paper

Babushka Dolls

Collection of toys/dolls/cars

White paper or Journal

Download and print (The price you pay will get you 14 colouring in pages, that is 14 Sundays worth and I will possibly refer to them over the coming weeks. To reduce the cost further, you could share with other families or ask your church to purchase them for you. Note this is a USA publication so the season  for them is Spring, and the price is in US$, so it will cost a little more and possible attract international transaction charges depending on whom your credit card is with)×11 (This series has 9 colouring in pages, including a simplified version for younger hands. They cover the Psalms in the RCL until Easter Sunday. I do suggest you purchase them, just remember the price is in $US so will be slightly higher and may attract an international transaction fee. You might like to share this product with other families or ask your congregation to purchase it for you.)


OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16.

READ: The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago Son of Laughter

OR The Rhyme Bible by L.J. Sattgast pp.40-44

OR The Early Reader’s Bible pp.35-39


MAKE: A night sky, draw yellow or white stars * on a black sheet of paper.

DO: Count the number of people in Church

PRAY: Twinkle twinkle little star (twinkle your fingers)

God promised Abraham

And here we are.

You might like to continue the story at night during the week when you look up at the stars.

PSALM 22: 23-31


DRAW: a Happy or Sad face for each verse of the Psalm or a picture of your favourite verse of the Psalm.

PLAY: with a Babushka doll, where the generations fit inside each other.


NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 4:13-25


A beautiful depiction of faith and disbelief.

SEE OLD TESTAMENT as these activities are suitable for this reading.

GOSPEL Mark 8:31-38

READ: The Lion Picture Bible p.316

DO: play follow the Leader: You do something eg. wave, and encourage your child to do the same. You could also, blow kisses, tap finger tips, point to ears etc. This is to reinforce the idea that Jesus wants us to follow Him

Make: a line of your toys/cars on the pew. Who is the leader? Where are they going?

PRAY: Help me Lord

to be a good follower


Lent 1: Ways to engage the 3’s and under with this weeks RCL readings.

Choose the specific readings that church will use this week or be prepared for all of  them

This week you might need

My First Read-aloud Bible Batchelor and Boshoff

or The Lion Story Bible


OR The early reader Bible

OR The Jesus Story Book Bible  by Sally lloyd-Jones and Jago can also be purchased on Kindle

Down load from

Bible Story Coloring Pages: Spring 2018

Psalms Coloring Pages – 8.5×11

ALSO Blue, Yellow and Green material squares from Spotlight, or paper squares



Plain paper or Journal


Old Testament: Genesis 9:8-17

READ: My First Read-aloud Bible Batchelor and Boshoff pp.20-21.

or The Lion Story Bible p.22


OR The early reader Bible pp.27-31

OR The Jesus Story Book Bible pp.46-47


OR (The price you pay will get you 14 colouring in pages, that is 14 Sundays worth and I will possibly refer to them over the coming weeks. To reduce the cost further, you could share with other families or ask your church to purchase them for you. Note this is a USA publication so the season  for them is Spring, and the price is in US$, so it will cost a little more and possible attract international transaction charges depending on whom your credit card is with)

OR free draw rainbows

PLAY: A rainbow puzzle. A simple puzzle can be made from strips of coloured paper placed in the correct order. Easily prepared at home.

or a Noah playset. (NOTE: today’s reading is about the covenant not the Noah’s ark story)


PSALM 25:1-10

COLOURING IN:×11 (This series has 9 colouring in pages, including a simplified version for younger hands. They cover the Psalms in the RCL until Easter Sunday. I do suggest you purchase them, just remember the price is in $US so will be slightly higher and may attract an international transaction fee. You might like to share this product with other families or ask your congregation to purchase it for you.)

DRAW: the images in the Psalm 

OR draw how the Psalm makes you feel. 

As covenant is mentioned at the end of this Psalm see the PLAY suggestions above



READ/WATCH:  A Big Guy took my Ball by Mo Williams as suggested by to explain how someone advocates/steps in to help for us.

PLAY: With toys, or dolls. They may recreate this scene of some one stepping in to help.

OR Let them play with Noah’s ark play set.

PRAY: Thank You God

You cared for Noah

You care for me (point to yourself)



GOSPEL: Mark 1:9-15

READ: My First Read-aloud Bible Batchelor and Boshoff pp.150-153

or The Lion Story Bible pp..140-143

OR The Jesus Story Book Bible pp. 200-209 p.200 sums up all of today’s readings succinctly. 


CRAFT:  Baptism spinner, require straw, glue stick and texta’s.

PLAY: 3 colour squares, blue, yellow, and green. (bought from spotlight or use sheets of coloured paper.) Put them out, and retell Jesus’s journey, from baptism on the Blue sheet, to desert experience on the yellow sheet, to preaching on the green sheet. Question: I wonder what your favourite story is? Which colour do you like today? (don’t expect their answers to your questions to be verbal.)