Sermon on the Sidewalk

Colorful real-life stories of kids, family and an extraordinarily ordinary, everyday kind of faith.

Posts from the ‘Intergenerational Faith Formation’ category

To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”

IMG_8020Easter and candy go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong! Healthy snacks rule, but I’m not above sharing jelly beans or other sweet treats when they create opportunities to engage kids in conversations of prayer. Lenten Sacrifice Beans turned Alleluia Beans turned conversation and prayers.

We don’t find Jesus because we look in a grave or even on a cross. Jesus comes to us. In the water, in the bread, in the wine. Together at the table, we see Jesus in one another. With 50 Official Jelly Belly flavors and 50 days of Easter, Jelly Belly Prayers have become a seasonal favorite, and a simple way to invite children into the resurrection life. We are Easter people, after all!

Taste and See

Kids can count on numbers. Numbers are concrete. Why does Lent have 40 days and Easter have 50? Why don’t we count Sundays as part of our 40 day Lenten journey? Lent has 40 days and Easter gets 50. Resurrection trumps crucifixion, Easter outshines Lent. Life conquers death. Every Sunday is celebrated as a little Easter. I love how the seasons of the church year invite kids and families into healthy rhythms of being the church.

This year, during the 50 days of Easter, why not invite kids and families to use the attached Jelly Belly Prayer Prompt PDF. It introduces A.C.T.S. prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication), encourages conversation and prayer, and is sweet fun!

Leave a comment

I look at your heavens, which you made with your fingers. I see the moon and stars, which you created. But why are people even important to you? Why do you take care of human begins? You made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-5 NCV).

Key Messages Exercise

Key Messages Exercise

“Sexuality is a good and wondrous gift, a rich and diverse combination of relational, emotional, and physical interactions and possibilities.” In partnership with families, ECLC works to “protect and nurture children and youth and provide for their appropriate development,” including “how children and youth are supported and accompanied in their sexual and relational formation” (Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, a social statement of the ELCA).

Raising sexually healthy children requires a combination of strong relationships, open communication and clear messages regarding values and expectations between parent and child. The church can be a great place to discuss human relationships, sex, and sexuality within the context of Jesus’ invitation to love God, our neighbors and ourselves.

IMG_7891

What is the difference between sex and sexuality? How do the sexual images, message, information and disinformation in media and popular culture impact our beliefs and behaviors regarding sex, sexuality and relationships? How does a black-and-white understanding of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior fall short of God’s created goodness? Why do we sometimes think very little of ourselves when God loves and values us above all else in creation? These are some of the questions explored together by ECLC confirmation youth, parents and presenters every three years, during the full-day sexuality treat.

IMG_7881Sexuality encompasses nearly every aspect of our being, from attitudes and values to feelings and experiences. It is influenced by the individual, family, culture, religion/spirituality, laws, professions, institutions, science and politics. In addition to being a safe place for discerning how to live faithfully in a complex world, retreats provide confirmands and parents with opportunities to learn new and better ways to be in relationship with one another, and to communicate what can sometimes be awkward, uncomfortable, or challenging topics.

Resources

Leave a comment

Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. —Luke 11:1

IMG_7503If you’re a fan of comic books or superheroes you might visit the Superhero Database. This entertaining collection of favorite (and not so favorite) superheroes, villains, and superpowers is worth a look, but Jesus is missing. So are other superheroes of faith, like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Esther. You’re name isn’t there. Neither is mine. And there’s no mention of God’s powerful gift of prayer.

Last summer I read a post by Sam Williamson, introducing his book, “I Wonder If Sunday School is Destroying Our Kids.” Williamson zeros in on something he calls the “counterfeit gospel of pack-mule-moralism.” The article went into my urgent file. Not because what’s in the article is news to me, but because it’s news to so many. “The Wonder of the gospel is not the love of the beautiful; it’s when Beauty kisses the Beast.” We come as we are to church. God loves us as God’s perfectly imperfect creation. We’re all superheroes, transformed by God’s radical love, and gifted with super powers of prayer.

IMG_7499

Super Powers of Prayer

Like many thriving congregations, Edina Community Lutheran provides milestone opportunities for grafting children into the life of the church; encouraging families to keep the promises of baptism. This month’s faith milestone is an opportunity for kids and families to explore the wonder of the gospel and the super powers of prayer. Together, we string prayer beads, write the prayers for the day, and experience different ways to pray, including a superhero prayer that teaches:

IMG_7518In Practice

Introduce families to contemplative prayer. Some may already be familiar with the rosary, or other practices of using beaded strings or tied knots. Anglican prayer beads are a wonderful tool for kids and adults, inviting all ages of prayers into real-life encounters with God; keeping our hands busy and our hearts and minds focused. I recommend using large colorful beads and tipped beading cord for kids:

  1. Prepare kits that include our superhero prayer beads (PDF) guide and (1) cross-shaped bead, (1) large invitatory bead, (4) large cruciform beads, (28) medium weeks beads, and cording that can be easily beaded by children.
  2. Demonstrate how to make prayer beads, step by step: Begin by folding the cord in half and beading your cross. Next add the invitatory bead and first cruciform bead to both cords. The remaining beads are added to a single cord (half the beads on each side), securing the fourth cruciform bead by threading both ends of the cord through its middle and tying a strong knot.
  3. Teach the Sign of the Cross, Lord’s Prayer, and A.C.T.S Prayer while praying through one of the four group of weeks. There are other prayers available online at pintrest and elsewhere, to use with your Anglican prayer beads.
  4. A Super Powers of Prayer event might also integrate Super Power fun, super powers prayers, the Superman Table Prayer, and signing the Lord’s Prayer.

IMG_7495

2 Comments

Too many children go straight from the Palm Sunday parade to the Easter alleluias and totally miss what happened in between. They are conspicuously absent from Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. So, they miss exploring the key stories of the faith on the nights when those stories have the most power. It does not have to be that way. — Carolyn

IMG_2785

Passports are fun. Our kids had traveler’s passports and National Parks program passports and the novelty of filling them with stamps and stickers never grew old. I’ve also given children and youth pretend passports to help get them excited about special events, steps for completing a project or as a way to collect memories.

Inspired by Carolyn’s blog and Worshiping With Children Facebook page, along with a suggestion from one of the pastors, this year I created a Holy Week Passport, inviting kids and families to participate in all of the Holy Week experience.

ECLC’s Holy Week Passport includes scripture references for each of the special days, and since our worship services are uniquely designed to be interactive and child-friendly, the stickers will actually mean something.

IMG_2934

The 8-page passports were so popular at the Palm Sunday Fair we nearly ran out of books and Polaroid film for the photos, even during spring break. My real hope, of course, is that the passport stickers at the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday services are equally as popular.

The Palm Sunday Fair activities were great fun, with stickers for communion bread baking, palm cross folding and cross beading, labyrinth walking, resurrection eggs, sacrifice beans, a food drive and poetry party, but the best learning will happen during Holy Week services. Those are the stickers we’re hoping kids’ take home.

IMG_2787 I’m attaching a modified PDF passport template for 2014, though there are many other excellent ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere for creating your own kids passports. Also, here is a holy week passport sticker PDF using Dan Erlander’s free artwork (see the link below for more great illustrations). Additional stickers were created using photographs specific to planned activities/events.

I’ve edited out our church name, Palm Sunday Fair events and 2013 worship service times, and also added in 2014 dates so you can pretty much print, cut and assemble if you like. To keep the passports more authentically sized we trimmed them on the margins. The passport stickers were printed on Avery 1-1/2″ round #8293 and the cover on recycled card stock paper.

Because the cover is a big part of what makes the passports so awesome, you should know the design is borrowed from Dan Erlander’s free downloadable artwork and his copyright is printed on the back outside cover. During Lent we’ve been following his Manna and Mercy book, so it is a perfect fit.

IMG_3030

72 Comments

IMG_2701

Baptized Lutheran, confirmed Catholic and serving in the church for over 20 years, I’ve folded my share of crosses on Palm Sunday.

Over the years I’ve also collected many different palm folding activity sheets for kids and families to follow, but none of them showed the way I was originally taught. So when I found a YouTube video that demonstrated what I think has always been the easiest and best way to fold palm crosses, I wanted to share it.

We have a Palm Sunday Fair coming up next weekend. Together with the YouTube video and a bowl filled with sample crosses, the pictures will make it easier for everyone to participate in this fun and long-held tradition. Folding palms is a meaningful way to participate in the Easter story and Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem.

There’s a blizzard outside today, so the “green grass” smell of fresh palm leaves has been both a blessing and a joy.

Let me know if you think you have an easier or better way, or if you find this post helpful in your own ministry at church or at home.

7 Easy-Step Instructions:

IMG_2705

Step 1. Trim a single palm at both ends

IMG_2706

Step 2. Fold the palm in half and cut into two pieces

IMG_2708

Step 3. Fold one piece over the other 3 times

IMG_2709

Step 4. Fold the piece you just folded over once

IMG_2712

IMG_2713

Step 5. Insert the wider of your two pieces through the center and pull tight to form a 90 degree angle

IMG_2715

IMG_2718

Step 6. To make the horizontal length of the cross, insert one side at a time through the center and adjust

IMG_2719

IMG_2720

Step 7. To make the vertical length of the cross, insert the remaining piece through the center and adjust

IMG_2721

One way to remember the 7 steps is:

cut, cut / fold in half / cut the half

fold 3 / fold 1 / lock

horizontal 1, 2

vertical

+

2 Comments

But just as sure as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” Silas, Timothy and I preached to you about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Our message did not say “Yes” and “No” at the same time. The message of Christ has always been “Yes.” God has made a great many promises. They are all “Yes” because of what Christ has done (2 Corinthians 1.18-20).

IMG_2284

The world is filled with the word No.

The award-winning book, “No, David!” is a collection of the talented author-illustrator, David Shannon, doing things he was not supposed to do as a child. Like most of us he made messes, mistakes and over-indulged. It’s a book we can all relate to, especially our five-year-old selves. Inside the jacket cover, David writes, “Now David is all grown up. But some things never change…”

Indeed, some things never change.

No, I can’t always protect my children from people or things that might harm them. No, I can’t be unaffected by crime or poverty, global warming or war, illness or death. No, I don’t always make the right choices. Some days it seems I make a lot of wrong ones. Lent reminds me of that.

But Lent also reminds me why as a child of God I cling to God’s Little Easters (Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not considered part of the 40 days of Lent). Of course I’d love to only do good things; to be all good for all people; to be the perfect mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, neighbor, minister, teacher, wife and friend. But perfection is not mine to do or to have. Of course that doesn’t mean I still don’t try. I do.

no_davidMBut Christ is the One in whom all God’s promises find their perfect response. The message of Christ is the reconciliation and forgiveness of the world. It is Christ’s Yes that keeps me faithful; transforming the life I’ve been given so it can be a Yes to others.

Instructions:

Read David Shannon’s book together. Talk about where the word No shows up most often in your family and for each person. Often times the word No protects us and keeps us safe. Other times it fills us with shame, guilt or fear. Why is the message of Christ’s Yes so important?

Read 2 Corinthians 1:18-20.

Point out that in both the Bible story and in David’s picture book, Yes shows up as an undeserved, unearned gift in the form of love, reconciliation and forgiveness. That is what it means to live in the Yes; to bear witness to God’s Yes for the world by offering a life of surrendered love for God and one another, the Word made flesh in us.

Leave a comment

Lent is not an effort to save ourselves. We have been saved by Jesus’ one and perfect sacrifice.

IMG_2257It’s time to spill the beans. Lent isn’t only for grown-ups. The church season of Lent is the perfect time to bring faith home, especially with meaningful intergenerational activities like Sacrifice Beans. Even in the midst of our mortality, the days are getting longer. The sun is burning brighter. And the 40-day journey to Easter is meant to be traveled together!

Sacrifice Beans teach a life of sacrifice and serving that begins in the home and spills out into the world. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection remind us what it means to bear the mark of the cross in our everyday lives.

Beans are seeds. Like most seeds they appear to be dead. Yet school-age children bury these “dead” seeds in dirt-filled milk cartons and in recycled paper cups every year, most kids filled with blissful hope that somehow, mysteriously, these beans will spring forth to new life.

Similarly, what at first might seem like an elementary exercise in bean-counting reveals a hope-full way of living in response to Jesus’ perfect sacrifice; a life defined by giving rather than grabbing, self-sacrifice rather than self-preservation. Kids learn best through play. So even if they won’t touch their beans at dinner, they’ll gladly play with them during Lent.

As long as everyone understands we do these things because of what Christ has already done and not to save ourselves or to earn love that is unconditionally ours, Sacrifice Beans are wonderful way to nurture and grow faith!

IMG_2253Instructions:

If using lima beans, work together to mark a cross on each bean with purple permanent marker. Remind everyone that we are God’s children in Baptism; that we’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. Nothing can separate us from God’s love; not even death.

During Lent when family members sacrifice time, talent or treasure for someone else’s good or the good of creation, another person places a Sacrifice Bean in a specially designated jar or dish.

Surprise children on Easter morning by replacing Sacrifice Beans with Alleluia Beans (Jelly Beans) to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord. Then every time anyone makes a sacrifice during the 50 days of Easter, that person gets a treat (we use Jelly Belly beans with special prayers for each of the 49 flavors). For older children or sugar-conscious parents, beans can also be replaced with coins, to be shared as an offering on Easter morning.

5 Comments
Network is a Verb

Renew...Educate...Connect...

You Rock

Guitar Lessons || Twin Cities, MN

daringbelief

I dare to believe in a loving, big, inclusive God who came in the person of Jesus Christ to save me, a sinner, a director of youth and family faith formation, homeowner, senior caregiver, puppy lover, landlord, joy chooser, human being.

Interrupted Stories

When life goes off script

An Advent Devotional Calendar

Calendars and Poems of the Advent Season

Preach it Sister

Your weekly dose of Hope

Our Daughters' Stories

What We Learned About Gender, Sexuality, Self, and Others

RevGalBlogPals

~creating community for clergywomen~

Shobi's Table

A ministry of, by, and for folks struggling on the margins in St. Paul, MN

Storypath

Connecting Children's Literature With Our Faith Story

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

Dispatches from the Borderland of the Mind

Creative Theology

...imagining another world...

Confessional Lutheran Ecclesiastical Art Resources

Lutheran art for the church and home.

Scribble Out Loud

Finding creativity in the everyday

Designing Higher Ed

Design + Innovation for Learning

reimagineimago

what image do you carry?

2pennyblog

Providing my two cents for anyone who cares.

%d bloggers like this: