Parables

For the past few weeks in Sunday School, our children have been hearing different parables. Jesus used parables to help teach his followers, to make a point to his opposers, to give people a way to better understand the kingdom of heaven.
Most of us need help with understanding this.  The kingdom of heaven is here, it’s coming; the kingdom of heaven is in us, it’s around us; the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.
We’re not going to get it all figured out, that’s for certain. But, we work hard with our kids here at Minnehaha to keep them questioning and wondering. We want them to know that’s is okay to be confused, to have doubts. And, we want them to know that we’re with them through all of this – that as a community we are seeking what it means to be followers of Christ, and what it means to be God’s hands in the world.
We are with them in their confusion, in their wonder, in their discovery, in their joy, in their sorrow, in their calm and in their chaos. We are with them when faith in God comes easily, and when it seems impossible to believe. We are with them: this is being a community of seekers, this is being a church family.

 

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Welcome Routines

As we continue on with the new program year, we settle into routines at church. Many of us tend to sit in the same pews, take the same path to Sunday School, linger in the same areas. Routines can be a great comfort to us in a world that isn’t usually in our control. These routines – this structure – offers security to our children as well. Knowing what’s expected when reduces anxiety, and increases involvement.
This applies to our time in worship as well. For those of you who might have wondered why we don’t have Sunday School at the same time as worship at Minnehaha – it’s because we not only like having children as part of worship on the whole, but we also know how good it is for children to be a part of worship. We believe that making it a part of their routine helps them become more integrated in the community. Additionally, worship offers building blocks which will be essential as they continue to grow in their faith. So what are these building blocks? Here are just a few (there are countless more):
  • They learn to take time from their busy days, from running around, to focus on God, and to learn how to take God’s love out into the world.
    One hour committed to learning and prayer, to praise and reflection, to offering and to blessing. One beautiful hour.
    Perhaps your child might not be focusing? It takes time to figure out, for all of us, but by surrounding them in a community that has this as their intention, you present this as a value.  Worried your child might keep others from focusing? Pshaw, not a concern. We’re going to work on this all together. 
  • They experience true intergenerational community, and know that they are a valued, celebrated part of this community.
    Look around the sanctuary during worship – see people of all ages together, listen to their voices come together in prayer or song. Greet one another with peace. There’s not many other places in our daily lives where we have this kind of opportunity.
  • They participate in rituals – the routines – of worship.
    Some rituals are an ancient and global part of Chrisitianity – like saying the Lord’s Prayer –  while other rituals are more unique to Minnehaha. By coming and participating in worship each week, they hear the prayers, the joys and concerns of others, they hear commitments made to help them grow in baptismal promises, they hear scripture that gives words to what they might be feeling. The more they participate in these rituals, the more comfortable they become, and the more comfortable they become, the more at home they will be in worship, and the more at peace they are to explore their faith.
So, consider making worship part of your Sunday morning routine. And, take time to talk with your children about what you do in worship and why.
And, please know that one of the wonderful things about Minnehaha is that people in the pews get kids, and know that they might cry, or forget to whisper, or want to make funny faces at the people sitting behind them. They are welcomed and treasured.

Peace Like a River

On this past Sunday, we kicked off our program year at Minnehaha with Rally Day. We had a lively service outside, met & blessed a great collection of volunteers to teach our children, went to classrooms, reconnected with friends, dined, painted faces, rode bikes, and more. It was a celebration.

As part of this celebration, we introduced our theme for the year: Peace Like a River. Throughout the year, we’ll be coming back to this as a touchpoint, to help us frame all of our seeking, serving, and celebrating.

Over the past two years, we talked about “stepping into the story.” This story of God’s love – we’re each a part of it, it’s our story as much as it’s the story of Abraham, King David, and the disciples. We are called to share God’s love with the world, and in doing so: we change the world.
In the midst of this is the driving force of and for peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, taught us that this bringing peace to the world wouldn’t be easy.  He made sure we knew that this peace wasn’t for a select few. He made sure we knew that peace wasn’t about sitting quietly and not causing trouble. He made sure we knew that living a life of peace – that striving for justice and love for all – this will change the world.

We don’t sing about peace like a quiet pond deep in the woods. We sing about peace like a river: a powerful, dynamic force that leaves its imprint, that changes all in its path. Peace like a river that provides, that nourishes, that alters the world.

What would this kind of peace look like in your own life? In your children’s lives? What might a world of peace look like? Join us as we explore peace like a river.

Peacemakers

In August, besides celebrating (or mourning) the end of summer, we had the chance to observe a solar eclipse. Different locations and circumstances (ah, cloudy Minneapolis) dictated just how much of the eclipse we were able to see. Darkness covered the light. It wasn’t safe to look at. It wasn’t in our control. And, we watched. I had the pleasure of observing it with my children and my parents. My father tried to get the grandchildren to join him in a dance to encourage the sun to return. They looked at him like he was crazy, and promptly jumped back into the pool. There was no doubt in their mind, even as they watched the sun disappear in the middle of the day, that the light would return.

We all have different levels of comfort with darkness. We all have different levels of trust in the light. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel safe to have our children observe this struggle between darkness and light. Mostly, it feels like we have no control. And, quite often, it seems as if our efforts to control the light are futile and we may as well just jump in the lake. For the eclipse, we listened to NASA scientists explain all that was happening, and we trusted in their wisdom and understanding, learned a bit about this amazing universe of ours, and trusted that the moon wouldn’t forever blot out the light of the sun. As Christians, seeking peace and love in this world of ours, we learn that by working together we are the peacemakers, the light bringers. When we see darkness and hate in this world, we know that LOVE is stronger, and that we can bring light into the world.

 
“…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
This year in Children & Family Ministries, our theme is Peace Like a River. We’ll be looking at all the different ways we experience peace (spiritual, emotional, and physical), as well as exploring how we might be the peacemakers in the world. We hope you will join us in this journey, and encourage you to share with us ideas on how we might better help your family find light and hope in the midst of darkness.
We don’t need any pinhole projectors, colanders, or special glasses to participate. Simply join us – for Rally Day, for Sunday School, for worship, for Playgroup – for wherever it might be that you feel you can find peace and/or can work to bring peace. The darkness isn’t more powerful – while we may not always have control – we know this with certainty. Just as certainly, we know that we are called to be the peacemakers.