Monday, March 27, 2017

Mandalas and Lent?

I do love to color and I love to watch children color.  I have learned never to interpret a child's drawing.  That one I learned the hard way but that is for another topic.  I have been asked to give a short talk tonight about mandalas.  Mandalas have been shown to distract the mind from negative thoughts.  They keep the hands busy so the mind cannot wander.  They can ground us in the moment, declutter the mind and reduce stress.  They allow us time to suspend our inner dialogue.  I believe this is what Lent is about and I believe it is part of what Dean Jones was challenging us to do Sunday.  Be present with The Lord; suspend our inner dialogue and listen for His voice.
So, here is my challenge for you.  I have attached a very creative video about how to grow your own mandala and several options you can print.  Watch the video and/or print a mandala and then re-listen to a sermon from this Lenten season.  What did you hear?

Monday, March 20, 2017

What's on your Calendar?

Spring/Easter Children and Families Calendar
3rd Friday Parent’s Nights: April 21st, 6:00pm Oyster Roast at Trinity,                  May 19th 6:00pm 21 Castle Hall Lane Summer Celebration.
Wednesday Night Supper and Children’s Program: Every Wednesday 5:45-7:00 in Satterlee Hall.
Celebration for Charles Davis: April 2nd immediately following the 9:00 service in Satterlee Hall.
Kid’s Movie Night:1st Friday of each month 6-8 in the Edward Room.
Children’s Labyrinth Walk: April 12th at 5:30 in the gym.
Maundy Thursday Children’s and Families Service: Thursday, April 13th at 5:00 in the Cart Courtyard.  Let Jesus wash your feet, cleanse and feed your soul.  Followed by a soup supper in Satterlee Hall.
Good Friday: Join us Friday, April 14th for the 5:30 Good Friday Service.  Children will be invited to Liturgy Preparation where we will visit each Station of the Cross.
Dying of the Easter eggs:  Join us Saturday, April 15th at 9:00 in the Cart Courtyard.  We will be dying Easter eggs for our Sunday morning breakfast guests.  Please bring 2 dozen boiled eggs.
Easter Services:  9:00 and 11:15 Easter Service with Liturgy Preparation.  Join us after the services for Cinnamon rolls and “goodies” on the lawn.
Strawberry Picking and The Fruits of the Spirit:  Join us Sunday April 30 at 4:30 at Cottle Farms to pick strawberries and learn the Fruits of the Spirit.
Spring Outreach:
Children’s Outreach Project for:

On June 10th, Trinity will be sending many children to experience the Faith, Hope and Love of Camp Bob at Kanuga.  As part of our continued lesson about outreach and God’s call for us to love and serve others, children will be collecting items for the backpacks for the campers attending Camp Bob.  Below you will find a list of items.  These items can be dropped off in your child’s Sunday school classroom. 
3’s, 4’s and 5’s: combs
1st and 2nd grade: deodorant
3rd, 4th and 5th: pen and writing pad
Please let me know if you have any questions
 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1Peter 4:10)
Other Dates:
Sunday, May 14th: Senior Sunday
Sunday, May 21st: Confirmation Sunday and last formation class
Sunday, May 28th: Summer schedule begins

Monday, March 13, 2017

Are you parched?

Dean Jones shared an article with me that I believe you will find thought provoking when read with the Gospel lesson for this Sunday (John 4:5-42).

Being a father or mother is a lot like being a priest. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish, Christian, or one of the “religious nones.” Whatever faith—or the lack thereof—parents affirm, they spend about 18 years conducting a profoundly influential worship service in the lives of their children.
Parenting is basically the Liturgy of Child Rearing.
What I mean is this: through tens of thousands of ordinary, daily interactions, moms and dads orient young hearts toward a vision of what James K. A. Smith calls “the good life.”* Parents show their children what to love, what to desire, what matters most. This usually happens unconsciously. By example, practice, habit, and speech, parents are saying to their children, “This is the good life. The fulfilling life. The life worth living.”
In other words, parents teach their children what or who to love, to trust in, to rely upon to find fulfillment in life. That “who” or “what” is their G/god.
The question is not: should you choose your child's religion?
Rather, it’s this: which religion are you choosing for your child?
It may be one of the traditional faiths. Or it may be plastic religions such as The Next Big Thing or iFaith.

The Religions of the Next Big Thing and iFaith

In the religion of the Next Big Thing, the sacraments are degrees, promotions, acquisitions, whatever moves one along toward (what has been determined to be) the good life. If I get into this university, I’ll finally be happy. If I make this much money, I’ll matter. If I marry this person, I’ll find contentment. If I buy this house, I'll be important. If the Next Big Thing in my life happens, I’ll able to justify my existence. I’ll be resurrected from a life of boredom, and discontent. I’ll mean something. I’ll be somebody. That’s what I love so that’s what I pursue with my whole heart. This is the stuff of religion. It just goes by a different name.
Perhaps it’s the religion of iFaith. In this faith, what matters is saying something new, believing something new, breaking religious barriers, rewriting creeds, moving beyond the dead doctrines of dead people expressed in their dead rituals. In iFaith, the versions are constantly being updated so you have to constantly be adapting. Whatever was cutting edge yesterday is dull today. Whatever is new is better. If something is said in a way no one has said it before, it’s probably true. The good life is found in being different, special, unique from others.
Whatever faith—or cocktails of faiths—parents embrace, we’re teaching our children to trust that they will be fulfilled, find purpose and meaning, in something or someone. We are directing the compass of their hearts toward certain loves. We, like parental priests, are conducting the Liturgy of Child Rearing.

The Good Life of Christianity

So, first of all, let’s stop pretending that we’ll wait for our children to grow up so they can choose their religion. Parents always choose their children’s religion. Without exception. It’s just that, in most cases, this religion operates under a different name. It’s the vision of the good life, the object of our loves, that Thing that will justify our existence.
Secondly, to speak directly to Christian parents, let’s cultivate an awareness of how we, as parental priests, are conducting the daily, heart-shaping, love-directing liturgy in our homes. If we take our kids to church on Sunday, then spend the other 6 ½ days around the altar of Materialism and memorizing the chief parts of the catechism of iFaith, you don’t have to be a prophet to foretell what their vision of the good life will be. “Take up your cross and follow Me” will be replaced in your children’s lives by “Take up your desires and pursue them.”
I realize we’re going to fail often at this. I certainly have. But even in our failures there is the opportunity for liturgical awareness. Children learn about confession and absolution most vividly when their parents admit they’ve messed up, they need forgiveness, that they too live by grace alone. They see in our home liturgy that forgiveness defines the good life, not punishment or revenge or self-justification. In many cases, the child becomes the priest, forgiving moms and dads, as my own son and daughter have forgiven me.
My main point is that every act of parenting is a religious act. Every decision we make forms a tiny part of liturgy we are conducing in the 18-year-long shaping of our children’s loves, trusts, and vision of the good life. As important as 10:45-12:00 on Sunday morning is, the life-shaping liturgy doesn’t end when we walk out the church doors.
It is only getting started.
*James K. A. Smith has written several books around the theme of the "good life." If you’re not familiar with his work, I recommend starting with You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.

My 2cents:
Only The Lord provides the living water that can quench the burning thirst of those whose lives are parched by a drought of truth.When we drink from the cup of gospel knowledge, that's when our thirst is satisfied and that is how we come to know our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. That is how we come to know that salvation and eternal life are poured out daily for you and me.
As for Liturgy of Child Rearing, " I tell you, open your eyes and and look at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest." (John 4:35)

Monday, March 6, 2017

How can anyone be born after having grown old?

The Hungry Caterpillar has always been a favorite of mine.  The story lends itself to so many teachable avenues for children. From sequencing, to the life cycle of the butterfly, to hundreds of fine motor crafts; the ideas for a teacher are endless.  Nicodemus reminds me of this caterpillar.  When a caterpillar goes through the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, it doesn't involve just a change in shape and growing wings, the whole body is actually broken down into "goo" while in the chrysalis.  The butterfly is basically born again from some shared cells that used to be a caterpillar. Jesus would actually change Nicodemus from the inside out through this encounter.

 Nicodemus came to Jesus with questions yet he was not speaking the same language as Jesus and I'm not sure Nicodemus was anticipating what he would hear.  Born again, water, flesh, wind blowing, eternal life; these were all earthly words that Nicodemus would have an earthly understanding of but Jesus was speaking "Heavenese".  Many years ago there was a car made by Chevrolet called the Nova (good gravy I am dating myself!), it was one of the top selling models for Chevrolet but when it was taken into the Spanish speaking market , it was a flop.  Different languages can lead to a different response.  Nova in Spanish literally means "doesn't go" hence the road block to sales.  Nicodemus not only had to learn a different language he had to under go an internal metamorphosis to even begin to understand the teachings of Jesus. 
Where do you need to be changed from the inside out?  What new language do you need to learn this Lent? May we allow that metamorphosis occur this Lent.  May our "goo" become become that beautiful butterfly Jesus intends for us to be.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ash Wednesday for Children

Ash Wednesday for Children: 
Blow the Trumpet in Zion.
Gather the people, gather the children.

Good Friday and Ash Wednesday are two days in which children are recognizably absent from the Cathedral.  However; as I read the lessons for Ash Wednesday this year, I realized Joel is “trumpeting” for parents to bring their children to Ash Wednesday worship to support them in their discovery that they too are sinners.  There is so much for children to gleam from seeing their parents, the priests, their parish family outwardly and visibly wearing the ashen crosses.

The imposition of ashes is a visible, teachable moment for our children.  They begin wearing their own ashes with a new sense of belonging; that “I am one of them”.  As they then hear the familiar words of sin, forgiveness and repentance, they begin to wear them as an admission that “I am one of them and I too am a sinner.”  This is not easy for children today who are repeatedly told that they are "wonderful, extraordinary, capable."  Ash Wednesday makes it easier to make the admission that “I too am a sinner” because your children are now in the presence of everyone else making the same admission. 

We are all first marked with the cross with water at our baptisms.  To be marked with the cross at Baptism is an amazing, wondrous thing. On Ash Wednesday, we are marked with the cross using ashes and the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”  The ashes and words remind us that we are not so wonderful.  In fact, we are all sinners.  Fortunately, the sign is not an X, marking us as hopeless rejects, but a cross reminding us that God loves and forgives us despite being sinners.    

Lent is a type of spring training for our children to become disciples.  They begin their training admitting to themselves and others that they are not perfect but that they are so blessed to be a child of God who loves and forgives them.  A child’s Lenten practice can become the turning point to realize they can commit to doing better.  Through this training, they begin living into God’s love for those who try and do well and also for those who try and do not do as well as they wish.

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Psalm 51:1-17  

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21

The above passages are the appointed lessons, Psalm and Gospel for Ash Wednesday.  I encourage you and your children to read these today and tomorrow.  Come hear them read aloud Wednesday and then live into them over the next 40 days.