An Advent Journey

Happy Advent from Minnehaha Children’s Ministries!
On December 3rd, we’ll begin the Advent season. Advent is the time when we prepare for Christmas, for the arrival of Jesus into the world. We know (literally and figuratively) the darkness that’s around us, we know longing for peace, we know stress from trying to prepare. As we journey through Advent this year, we invite families to contemplate how God is beside us through our journey, even in the darkness. We invite families to connect with one another on this journey – working together to bring justice and light to the world. We invite families to celebrate that God comes to us, and in that there is cause for much joy. There is hope.
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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.

 

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.