We’ve Got the Power!: 2016 “VBS”

Duke Memorial UMC

This year we’re partnering with the Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods) team at Duke Memorial to bring you our version of VBS – “We’ve Got the Power,”  a community organizing camp for children ages 6-12. Camp will happen June 13-17 from 5:30-7:30. Dinner is included.

You can register here: http://goo.gl/forms/qN7mVZEbcw

One of CAN’s focus issues is affordable housing as we grapple with rapid development in Durham. Our church camp will also focus on this issue. Here’s how we’re doing it:

When children arrive at camp they will receive a character whom they will play throughout the week. Their character will have name, job, amount to spend on housing each month, mode of transportation, and family info. Children will then be given a cardboard box that corresponds with the amount they can afford to spend. The bigger the amount the bigger the box.

Throughout the week children will be assigned to like-age small groups with an adult or teen facilitator.

Day 1: What’s in the city
Children begin turning their assigned box into a house. Each group will also get to pick a box to turn into something they’d like to see in their community: a park, school, swimming pool, unicorn farm where free ice cream is served at all hours, etc. In addition they will get a box to make into something we need in a city that may not be as exciting: stores, banks, city hall, grocery stores.

Day 2: Build your city
When the children return this evening their retail, civic, and recreational boxes will be placed on the floor of our large gathering hall. Each group will get to place their houses in their area of the city, corresponding to what they want to live near, their transportation and family needs. Small groups will discuss how it felt to make this choice and why they chose what they did.

Day 3: City changed
The next day children will return to find their city has changed. Developers have come in over night. New hotels and condos have taken up space in the city. Smaller houses are now far from downtown. Each small group will take a tour to find their houses. They’ve also received a letter from the Developer explaining why they’re houses were moved.

This is when we introduce our Community Organizer. We’ll do a lesson on the three sectors of power and how to organize our power. We’ll learn how to assess our assets, how to negotiate, and what we want to see changed.

Day 4: A city organized
Today children will come in to find the Mayor and City Council are meeting on our stage. They will brainstorm four questions in their small groups: What do we have? What do we want? What are we willing to compromise on? What do we think the City Council wants?

A rep from each group will then go to City Council to negotiate. With the help of an organizer we’ll get the win we’re looking for through negotiation and compromise.

Day 5: A new city
We get back to together on Friday to rearrange our city based on the negotiations from the previous day. Adults are invited to sit with their children through this last day as we remake the city. We’ll let children walk adults through the process of the city’s change. Everyone is invited to see what we’ve been up to throughout the week!

We’re hoping you can join us as a participant or volunteer!

 

 

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Good Friday Family Worship

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It’s difficult to know what to do with Good Friday when you have little children. I’m always a little itchy about skipping from Palm Sunday to Easter with no worship that centers us on Jesus dying. At the same time most Good Friday services are not made with children in mind. They start late, late enough to utilize the symbolism of day turning to night. The services are often structured for contemplation and silence. I love those spaces, and want to honor that worship for others. So bringing my toddler isn’t a good fit for me.

I know I’m not alone. So this year Duke Memorial UMC will have Good Friday Family Worship. It’s earlier, at 5:30 pm. And we’re structuring it in a way that meets children where they’re at developmentally. We’re not going to shy away from the sad reality of Jesus’ death, but we’re also going to go to the surprise at the end of the story – that the story ends in a miraculous surprise.

Here are some of the features of the service:

Many of our ministers will be children. Reading, praying, coloring, lighting candles, singing.

We’re beginning and ending with centering in God’s love. We’ll have a plain-word liturgy reminding us that God is always with it. We’ll have a child read a psalm reminding us of the constancy of God’s love in all places, at all times.

We’re preserving some of the traditional signs and symbols of Good Friday. Each child will be given an electric votive candle, and when we get to the part about Jesus dying we’ll switch off our lights and the Christ candle will process out (the sanctuary lights will stay up). We’ll also learn a responsive Kyrie, led by our children’s choir.

We’re reading from the Gospel of John. This Gospel preserves the story of Jesus death, but without detail. It also includes the section of Jesus giving Mary into the care of the beloved disciple. Love to the very end.

We’re going to talk about the cross as taking away our fear. Children are incredibly concrete at this age, and their fears are concrete. We’re going to listen to the Butterflyfish song “All Sad Songs” to think about the fears that Jesus takes on, that on the cross Jesus loves us enough to help free us from fear. Children and adults will be invited to draw or write something they fear, and then to bring those pictures to the cross. On Easter Sunday the children will process down to the same cross and cover it with flowers. And our pictures and words of fear will be gone.

We go all the way to Easter. Because children think in literal and concrete ways we don’t want to suspend the Easter story. It’s important that they not carry the fear and sadness of death out of that space. Most children aren’t able to make a connection between death and resurrection after three days of waiting. After we gather to talk about our pictures we’re going to have a dramatic monologue. One of the Mary’s will visit us, on her way to tell the disciples that she’s just been to the empty tomb. Jesus is alive!

At the end of the service I will write the word “Alleluia” on each child’s hand. That’s the surprise of Easter, and on Sunday we will shout that special word to everyone. For now we keep the excitement and the surprise bubbling inside us until Sunday. Then, like Mary we’ll shout the news to everyone. We can always look down at our hand to be reminded of the Good News – Jesus was dead and now is alive!

We’ll end with singing God’s Got the Whole World In His Hands, a reminder, again, that this whole world and everything in it is covered in God’s love. He is risen indeed!

Worship is open to all! We hope you can join us!

Lent in the Neighborhood

This Lenten season our church decided to eat together. As our ministry team planned worship for the season leading to Easter we noticed that the lectionary texts pointed us in a curious direction – away from our sin and failure, and towards God’s excessive provision and grace.

What a better way, we thought, to embrace God’s profligate, undeserved love than to discover it in our neighbors? We decided to invite the congregation into recognizing the places of gift in their midst, in those right next door. Who is around the corner, down the street, a two-minute car ride away? Who sits next to you in the pew without you ever realizing that she is your neighbor?

I began to recognize that this would be a discipline for our congregation when we started the sign-up process. There were many people for whom opening up their homes, or showing up to someone else’s house was chaotic and risky. What if no one shows up? What if too many people do? What if I don’t know anyone? What if everyone brings salad?

I didn’t expect this to be a discipline for me. I know everyone in my group. After all, I work at the church. And I am fairly confident in the face of chaos. I have three little children. Risky vulnerability comes with the territory.

As it was I was surprised that I began to feel nervous as I rounded the corner at the end of the block. Armed with only Kraft macaroni and cheese, my two-year old strapped to my chest, my school-weary kindergartner leading the way, I thought, “are we going to do a good job at this?”

We were at eating at the Ritchie’s house. They live in a beautiful home in Trinity Park. I was quite certain that it had been years since a three-year old slammed the door open so hard that it made a hole in their wall, probably decades since they owned a sippy cup. The Ritchies have also experienced their own transitions in health over the past year. While I knew they had extended hospitality, opening their home up to four different families with little children in our neighborhood, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could be a gift to them.

When we arrived Dotty ushered us into her front room, a room filled with beautiful things. On a little table sat Uno cards and dominos, carefully placed for the bevy of children beginning to arrive. Each time our toddler emptied a box I was right behind her, trying to keep up with the mess. Dotty came over and kneeled beside Etta. Always the preschool teacher she gently said, “it’s no problem at all. That’s what these are for.”

For the next hour we learned to receive the gift of one another. We listened for the comfort level of our hosts with our children running laps around their kitchen. We received the kindness of Maurice pouring water and Dotty wiping up the inevitable spills. Our new friends received our lives, our children’s temper tantrums and laughter, and we worked to be good guests, to meet our hosts in the friendship of their home.

It was a discipline, the work of noticing and recognizing, of being given grace and offering it to others. It was harder work that I expected, but it was good.

After we left I realized that were it not for our Lenten dinner group, if we hadn’t stepped into the discipline of God’s abundance, that we wouldn’t have found our way into the lives of the Seases and Tonkins and Ritchies in this way. It’s likely we would have gravitated towards people more like us, people with crayon on their walls and Legos under the couch.

This Lenten season I am reminded that the most difficult work of the Christian life is not pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, getting our acts together, being more faithful or brave or kind or good. All of that is the heresy that creeps into Lent. The difficult work of the Christian life is receiving the gifts before us, allowing ourselves to know, to experience God’s grace through the lives of others, and to know that we are God’s beloved. The discipline of the Christian life is allowing ourselves to be loved, just as we are.

 

Who is Jesus? banners (Year C/Epiphany)

In the season after Epiphany our church followed the lectionary through a series of lessons on the person of Jesus. Each week we looked at what the Gospel wanted us to hear about God’s Son. Our children helped us to keep these lessons in mind by creating banners each week that visualized what he heard. Here were the Pew Projects for each week:

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 – Jesus is God’s beloved
We had the children each make a piece of mosaic. I collected these and we created a mural of water falling and a dove descending.

John 2:1-11 – Jesus does miracles
In this lesson Jesus turns water into wine at Cana. The children colored coffee filters with red or purple markers. After worship they brought their clipboards down and we sprayed them with water and saw the colors bleed into the filter, turning it from white to the color of wine.

Luke 4:14-21 – Jesus brings Good News to the poor
In this lesson Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah. We each took a piece of paper bag and wrote the words of Isaiah on it, and drew pictures of what Good News looks like for the people whom Jesus describes.

(We took a break for Jesus almost getting thrown off a cliff, drawing people we knew who were the poor we saw in our lives)

Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a) – Transfiguration Sunday. Jesus is God’s Son
This week we focused on the unity of the Father and the Son. The children depicted the Transfiguration and I put it together to make one big mountain. Also, I gave myself one Cyril of Alexandria-inspired fist bump for not promulgating heresy among our smallest ministers. Go hypostatic union!

 

Lent Workshop 2016

IMG_3682On Sunday we prepared ourselves for the coming of Lent with our Lent Workshop, a cross-generational Sunday school hour with hands-on projects to get us ready to practice Lent in the home.

Each of our practices reflected a traditional practice or orientation of the heart that emerges through the Lenten season. Here’s what we did:

Pretzel-making
Make a pretzel to eat and a clay pretzel to take home to remind you that Lent is a time for prayer.

Devotional bookshopphoto 4
Purchase a devotional book in our Lenten bookshop. Lent is a time of self-reflection

Weekly disciplines
Pick a new discipline for each week of the six weeks of Lent, a time of self-control.

Alms boxes
Decorate anIMG_3690 alms box, a place to hold your loose change. At the end of Lent bring these back to church and they will be donated to our Good Samaritan Fund to help under-resourced families in our community. Lent is a time of giving.

Lenten gardens
Prepare a garden out of dirt and grass seed. Watch it grow throughout the Lenten season as we remember that Lent is a time of waiting.

Feast and Fast
Help us decorate the bulletin board with your feasts and fasts for Lent. Lent is a season of abundance and penitence.

 

Children preaching

Earlier this month I co-preached with an eight-year old from my congregation. As is often the case I processed this experience in a sermon, which was preached at the Community Mennonite Church (Harrisonburg, VA) retreat on Oct 18.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Every year our church participates in Children’s Sabbath, a worship service dreamed up by the people at The Children’s Defense Fund. Communities of worship from around the country invite children to take on the whole of the service – reading Scripture, ushering, displaying art, and leading in prayer.

While the church I serve participates in Children’s Sabbath there is always one part of worship that remains firmly in the hands of adults. That is preaching. But this year I wanted to try it out, to give a child in our congregation access to the pulpit.

I chose Hannah. She’s naturally curious, inquisitive. She loves church and she’s not afraid to look silly. All of these I believe are traits of a good preacher. I remember one Sunday after Hannah read Scripture she turned to her mother and said, “I have been waiting my whole life to get up there.” So it sounded like she would be up for it.

Because I am brave or foolish, or because the line between the two is very thin, I also decided to continue to follow the lectionary. The passages for the next four weeks were all from the book of Job. Many of you probably know this story, about God making this strange wager with Satan and then letting Satan destroy Job’s life. Satan kills off his family, destroys his home, wrecks his business. Everything is taken from him. Nothing is left of his life, except his own body. And then God allows Satan to decimate this as well, to cover Job with sores from head to toe.

Hannah and I read this story aloud to one another, paragraph by paragraph of oozing sores, piles of trash, heaps of ashes. After we were done she turned to me and said, “I don’t think this story is appropriate for children.”

We went for it anyway. We wrote a sermon together. And what Hannah said was that God doesn’t do a great job of being God in this story. God acts like a person, she told me. It’s Job who acts like God, the way we want God to be for us. It’s Job who never gives up, who stays faithful, who sits in the depths of his pain – literally in ashes – but does not stray from the path of love. God, the one up in the clouds, peers down, unaware, it seems, of Job’s life. This God is erratic, easily tricked, led away from faithfulness. Hannah told me that we want a God like Job.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this reading. The reason is that I’m an adult. These honest questions, these devastating questions about God’s behavior, that’s a kind of thing that makes me uncomfortable. I felt like we needed to clear up those questions, come to some conclusion. But there wasn’t one.

I came to preach like an adult. Hannah came to play like a child. In the expanse of her imagination, unbridled by a sense of the right questions, unaware that there were places we shouldn’t push the congregation, or that certain thoughts were off limits – away from all of this, Hannah played with the Scriptures. She played with our ideas about retribution and grace, about who God is and what God should or shouldn’t be doing. She imagined outside the prohibitions we place on these texts.

One of the reasons I put Job in the hands of Hannah is that I wanted to follow her into that play. My role as her co-preacher was to amplify her voice, to help adults hear the things that she was trying to say. Sometimes that was uncomfortable. I had to fight back against my own sense of preservation of order, of keeping things in line.

The more time I spend with children like Hannah the less surprised I am at the number of times Jesus calls them forth as exemplars of faith. Before I started spending time with children I thought this had something to do with innocence or blind faith. What I think now is that Jesus saw that children know how to play. And they know how to fail.

Today I’m thinking of failure as a kind of foolishness, the kind that Paul lauds to the people of Corinth, this crop of diverse people who have gathered together around the teachings of Jesus. The Corinthians wrestle with what it means to live out this foolishness. Paul opens his letter to them with this exhortation about being fools. He tells them that this kind of foolishness is inscribed into the cross. “For since,” he says, “in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.”

This letter reflects Paul’s desire to dissolve social hierarchies, to see those with wealth and privilege giving up their social standing as they live out the beloved community of Jesus. This will require them to fail. They will fail the social expectations of their Greco-Roman neighbors. They’ll look like fools, giving up the parties, the places of political influence, that serve meat sacrificed to idols. The Corinthians are being asked to create a new world. But it will come with embarrassment.

The world Paul shows them, the world that Jesus created, is bound for failure. We know this because the church is still unable to live out the peaceable kingdom described by Paul over 2000 years later. We don’t have it within us. And yet we keep trying to find a way, we keep trying out these unbelievable dreams, these beautiful, impossible worlds. We keep doing that and we keep failing at it. Over and over again.

Yesterday we looked at the ways play makes room to imagine these new worlds. We looked at graffiti—the way graffiti opens up communities of resistance. We looked at the play of protest and how humor holds power up to ridicule, how it refuses to take seriously the way things have always been done.

And today we’re following children into foolishness, into what the forms of power in our world call foolishness. Because children deliver us from the orderliness and predictability that blocks our view of the world into which Jesus invites us, the kinds of reforming that the Corinthians resisted.

Each year my church has three interns from Duke Divinity school who are learning to be pastors or teachers or social workers. For a year they work alongside our ministry team. Each new intern season I think of a way to let our children welcome them.

This year, thanks to the power of social media, I came across the idea of a sticker blessing. I’d seen pictures of my friend Megan being welcomed as the pastor of Seattle Mennonite by children placing stickers on her. I thought, this is perfect for us. We would mark our interns as ours, for this season.

When the time came in the service for our sticker blessing I invited the three young men down to the front and had them sit on the kneeler of the prayer rail, their heads just below the level of our children. Each of the children got three stickers, one per intern, whom they would mark as our own.

I had somewhat underestimated the number of children, almost thirty, and how much stickering would take place. Stickers were everywhere – covering our interns mouths and eyes, children laughing and reaching in to get closer. It was bordering on chaos, an unruliness we invited.

Later, when we debriefed this experience we discussed the discomfort of this action. Putting stickers on our interns, sitting so low to the ground, blurred the lines between children and adults. It was vulnerable – these adults were put into the hands of children, put into their world. There was something chaotic about this moment, like we’d lost control.

Jack Halberstam names the character of childhood that fills it with both promise but apprehension for adults. She explains that, “children are not coupled, they are not romantic, they do not have a religious morality, they are not afraid of death or failure, they are collective creatures, they are in a constant state of rebellion against their parents, and they are not the masters of their domain. Children stumble, bumble, fail, fall, hurt; they are mired in difference, not in control of their bodies, not in charge of their lives, and they live according to schedules not of their own making.”[1] Children introduce us to the foolishness of being fully outside the status quo.

At the same time children show us how to try and try again, how to create a world only to have it swept away, renegotiated or destroyed by forces outside their control, and then to imagine it again, to see what new thing they can make of it.

At the beginning of my sermon I gathered the children to hear the story of Beeckle, an imaginary creature looking for a child to befriend. In the story Beeckle is described by the author as a character who attempts the “unimaginable.” After a long time waiting for a child to dream him up Beeckle decides that he will go into the world, into the real world.

The real world is not what Beeckle expects. Moving out of the imaginary world and into the real world the illustrations changes from vibrant color to grayscale. Beeckle describes a world where no kids are eating cake, and exhausted adults and teens snooze on the subway. It’s a world of briefcases and suits.

This world is interrupted by imaginary beings dreamed up by children who create the possibility for other worlds. They transform ordinary space, bring it to color. New adventures and shared snacks give way to a new world. It is the old world, the real world that begins to feel strange. Beeckle makes it possible for his human friend, Alice, to see that the loneliness and predictability of the adult world is bizarre. The real world, the authentic world is the one they create together. The book ends with Alice and Beeckle going off “to do the unimaginable.”

Of course, we know this will end in failure. Like the elite in Corinth, we find ourselves confronted with the gospel of progress, of efficiency. After all, this is the real world – a world of diets and sleep-deprived teens. There are winners and losers. There are children and adults. Jews and Greeks. Slaves and free. Those who eat meat sacrificed to idols and those who will not. If you do not follow the rules, the social codes, you will look like a fool, a failure, as you fall all over yourself, chasing after a world that cannot come into being in the brokenness that surrounds you.

The good news is that the cross invites us to fail together, to bear the imaginations of one another. Like Jesus on the cross we can display our inability to turn our imagined world into reality. As this happens, as we share and imagine together, we discover that we love the worlds we’re trying to create. We find ourselves affected by the worlds that others we love imagine. We will want to give ourselves to failing at trying to make those worlds happen, knowing that it never will, but playing “make-believe” at it for the rest of our lives. “Make-believe play” is something children are taught they must outgrow, but maybe it’s our only hope–the only hope we have for living in the memory of Christ, the one who made up a world with his friends, a world that failed as soon as it got going.

Maybe what we need to look for are ways to be foolish, to follow after those who can show us how to play, to really play well, in the messy, ever-changing, imaginative space where things don’t get done, where time is wasted, where all worlds, worlds flowing with love and hope, are possible.

[1] Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure, 120.

Marilynne Robinson on children’s ministry

I have never read a better description of my approach to the catechesis of children than this short paragraph from Marilynne Robinson’s essay “Psalm Eight” from the collection The Death of Adam.

The patient old women who taught me Presbyterianism taught in parables. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, Pharaoh dreamed a dream of famine, Jesus said, Take up your bed and walk. We drew of colored pictures of these events, which were, I think, never explained to us. No intrusion on the strangeness of these tales was ever made. It was as if some old relative had walked me down to the lake knowing an imperious whim of heaven had made it a sea of gold and glass, and had said, This is a fine evening, and walked me home again. I am convinced it was this reticence, in effect this esotericism, which enthralled me.

Church Consumption, VBS, and Art

photo 3In June our church departed from the tradition VBS-in-a-can format and ventured into Art Camp, a week long exploration of the seven days of creation through visual art. We hired a local artist and gallery-owner (who we paid by the UMC standard living wage) and she put together a weeks worth of art projects. We did yoga, played on the playground, chalked outside, and drew still life. We used the Ignatian spiritual practice of praying through creativity to imagine ourselves in the middle of each day of creation.

Each day we worked on two projects. The first was a “complete that day” project. The second was cumulative – faux batiks. Kim, our director, had the idea of taking fabric, tracing a picture, retracing in glue, covering with paint, and then washing out the glue with hot water. Several of our church sewers then assembled these into banners – one for each of the days of creation. They are now hanging in our sanctuary.

There were several reasons I wanted to try an alternative to the traditional model of VBS. The first is that there are very few options to photo 1choose from. I feel like every church in town is doing Everest right now. So I don’t get the sense that the need to reproduce that format is a need in our area.

On a personal note, I don’t like chaos. I think there are times for rough play, times for kids to run wild. I also know that children long for spaces that are more contemplative. Instead we give them more – more sugar, more stimulation, more to process. There are a million incredible spaces for wild, exciting play and activity. Again, the question for me was: what do we have to offer that is uniquely “us” as a church.

There’s also something about the current format of VBS that doesn’t sit photo 4well with me. I will save you my Marxist critique of VBS, except to say that I struggle with any time our church trains children to see church as another site of consumption. One of the greatest challenges of pastoral ministry is pushing back against this way of thinking – that our tithe is a payment for services rendered, that if someone doesn’t like a church decision they’ll take their check and leave. I wonder if the way we do children’s ministry today, the way we form children to know the life of the church, is the seed of church consumption later in life. It’s a theory.

When I thought about VBS I asked myself a few questions. What would it mean to create a space where children produced, and where that production was “useful” only in so far as it contributed to our ability to witness the beauty of God’s creation and to worship God more fully? What if we created a space where children invited us into their imaginative world? How does our ministry over the summer fulfill our mission of “making ministers” of our children, of inviting them to participate in God’s life? photo 5

It could be that VBS is perfect for your context. It may be an incredible service to your under-resourced community. It may be that there is energy and enthusiasm, that the love of God pours out onto some kids who desperately need love this summer. You may not have the financial resources of our church (art camp was not cheap). You may feel VBS is a perfect fit.

Rock on, ministers.

It’s also good to go back and ask questions about why we do the things we do, how our ministry forms children over the long haul, and what our particular contexts have to offer our neighbors.

Hymns children want to sing

This past Sunday our worship was a hymn sing. We kept the structure of our regular worship, but let hymns carry us through the prayers and liturgies.
For our Pew Project I asked children to either write their own hymn, or to write or draw the subject of a hymn that we don’t usually hear about. I looked up their request and this is what I found, noting that some are incredibly obscure:
1. Sharks
‘Tis folly all – let me no more be told – Madame Guyon
2. Bicycles/Cars
The Chariot! the chariot! its wheels roll in fire – Henry Hart Milman
(general wheels/chariot reference was as close as I could get)

3. Dance
Lord of the dance – Sydney Carter

4. Birds (So many hymns!)
The birds in sweet chorus are singing away – E. E. Hewitt
Savior, like a bird to Thee – George Doane
Sweetly the birds are singing – E.W. Chapman
5. Flowers
When spring unlocks the flowers – Reginald Heber
As flowers in the morning sun – Irvin Mack
6. Time machine (I am stumped on this one, although I have found this)
No change of times shall ever shock
7. Sisters
Let us, brothers, let us gladly Give to God of all – Henry Bateman
O sisters, come and tarry at the blessed mercy – Nellie Brush
8. Animals
All things bright and beautiful – Cecil Alexander
9. Sunshine
All creatures of our God and King – St Francis

The Covenants During Lent (Year B)

covenants

This Lent our worship focused on the Old Testament covenants. Following the lectionary, we were of  the promises that sinful humans break again and again, but that God keeps faithfully. Our incredible intern, Madeline, led the Pew Projects during Lent. Each week our children created a Pew Projects for one of the covenants and we decorated the altar with them.

Noah’s rainbow – Remembering God’s promises to Noah to never again flood the earth, our children created the rainbow banner. On each triangle they wrote a promise God has made to them.

A New Name – This was the week when Sarai and Abram were given new names. Our children constructed a family tree, but not a biological tree – a tree that showed the family of our church. We also celebrated a baptism, welcoming Oliver into our new family.

Ten Commandments – We provided the children with a “kid accessible” version of the commandments. They depicted one on their tablets. At the end of worship they ripped them in half, a gesture towards the golden calf being built at the base of Mt Sinai.

Snakes in the Desert – Next up was the fascinating story of the snakes in the desert. Madeline pointed us back to another symbol (the one mentioned in the Gospel reading from John for this week) that we look up to, one that heals us – the cross. We made a beautiful stained-glass cross by giving each child a square to decorate with tissue paper.

Written on our Hearts – This Sunday we were reminded by Jeremiah of the time when the covenant would be written on our hearts. We used scratch paper to carve in a word of hope or promise. We cut those out and hung them for everyone to see.

Stones Crying Out – On Palm Sunday we transitioned intorocks Holy Week, pointing our hearts, minds, and creativity towards the cross. We switched up the Gospel to Luke to recall Jesus’ words that, if the disciples were silenced, “even the stones would cry out.” So we imagined our way into rocks crying out “Hosanna!”