Teaching children about Peace at Advent – a real life experience

10 12 2012
Our home Advent Wreath

Our home Advent Wreath


So I came up with an original idea for a children’s sermon yesterday. So often I am   pressed for time and drained of creativity that I lean on the inspiration and wisdom of others for a 3-5 minute children’s sermon. I’ll share my fave resources later in this post. It was the second Sunday in advent and I live to educate the children (and congregation) about the happenings of the liturgical church year. The second candle in the advent wreath is often a symbol of peace – the first candle symbolizing hope.

I have a lot of “quirky” favorite hymns/songs for Advent and Christmas and one particularly beautiful song was running through my mind. I realized it would be PERFECT for talking about Peace. Looking at the words of “Before the Marvel of this Night” I read it as a poem describing God’s commissioning of his angels before they visited the shepherds and the world with their message of “Jesus is born! To God be the glory!”. Is also read it as a commissioning for believers to go and tell our world about the gift of peace that comes to all of us through Jesus. So I crafted a children’s talk where I asked the kiddos to imagine they were Angels on a mission and to hear God’s instructions to them before going to the world.
I was so excited, it was awesome and beautiful all at the same time.

Fast forward to real time and actual giving of children’s sermon – I start up and their are a few usual distractions – of other people’s children – just the littlest ones getting used to coming up for a talk, etc (which by the way – if the parents are reading this – does not bother me at all!!).

Then I read the poem.

As I am reading I look down at my feet and see my two daughters (one is 5 years old and one is 8 years old) fighting over a pencil. I finish reading and as I am commissioning the children and adults to go out into the world as agents of peace, I calmly reach down and pluck the pencil out of their hands, and keep talking. I’m puzzled because my 8 yr old is still very frustrated squealing in a whisper “mommy she won’t give it back” over and over. I can see there is something my 5 yr old is guarding with her life but I don’t know what it is. They keep playing keep-away while I continue to talk about being agents of peace. My girls clearly are not getting what wisdom their mother was attempting to impart to them (perhaps God feels this way often?). So to make sure they are listening I stress ways we can bring peace – including to our brothers and SISTERS and PARENTS. (Insert congregational giggle here) and they keep on fighting. I swear they were oblivious. So I wrap it up with a prayer and sending children off to class — and then, in the hallway, help my daughters make peace with one another over a satsuma orange one swiped from the other.

I’ll have to introduce them to the musical version of “Before the Marvel of this Night”, maybe they’ll finally understand peace??
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Walking Holy ground at Vacation Bible School

9 08 2012

Somedays I feel like I’m not very good at coordinating (usually when I’m tired/depressed), and of course i am not perfect and VERY aware. Then volunteers bring their friends in to help with large events (adults/teens), and kids who were brought as someone’s friend last year bring friends along this year. And there are the kids who have been participants for the past few years who come back as volunteers and are incredible in children’s ministry. This warms my heart and reminds me it isn’t about me – they are being accepted and growing closer to God through the invitation of one another. And even if we aren’t a huge church with 100+ kids, one new life changed will affect so many more than I can on my own. The Spirit is truly working in this place. I am walking on Holy ground, in awe and honored to participate!

I’m Not Afraid of Phones, People Just Can’t Hear Me

25 01 2011

One of the hardest things for me to do in phone calling volunteers, not because I’m shy to talk on the phone but because God gave me this soft/somewhat high pitched voice that when I leave messages or talk to older volunteers people just don’t hear me well and they let me know. Saves so much frustration for both parties when I can communicate clearly.

Today I’m having to make phone calls and have a scratchy winter cold voice added to it. I have several older (senior age) folks I need to call because they don’t have email. And I know I need to make the calls, but it always takes so long because they can’t hear me and the words they do hear confuse them even more.

Nursery — WHAT!? I was supposed to be taken off that list! Well, yes that is what I’m calling about, I am new at organizign this list and I have your your name… I’ll make sure you’re off it now thanks, bye. I would love to continue saying “But I’m calling to check in with everyone on this so that I can make sure it is correct and check in to see how it is going/has gone, do you have suggestions for supporting future volunteers, thank you for your time helping out. I opt out of the rest of the comment, really wishing I could have continued with out getting somebody all angry because they only heard ‘church’ and ‘nursery’. I just take it as it is and move on, praying they forgive me eventually and continue to the next few calls that are likely to be very similar in tone.

What is more frustrating about this is as an equipper of and communicator to volunteers, I know that some people respond better with Phone calls. The phone is their love language of communication — rather than in person, hand-written note, email, text, facebook,etc. It pains me that I just don’t do this well and it is frustrating to them. So if you are a phone call type of person who gets way to many emails to me, I apologize, its not that I’m afraid to talk to you in person, I’m just afraid you won’t hear me and you’ll get all the words if I put it in writing.

Trust me, if you know me, I love talking to people in person and you probably have a hard time stopping me, especially when I’m tired!

Associate & Family Ministry at NW Ministry Conference

19 03 2010

I am participating for a second year in the NW Ministry Conference at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. A wonderful 15 minute drive from home to get there (and then an hour to get home on a weekday!). Today was the first day for me participating in two pre-conference intensive workshops which means they were two hours long for some extra diving into particular topics.

There are SO many great options to choose from, today we were asked to choose two out of eighteen options. The two workshops I chose were:

1. How to Flourish in Your Role as an Associate/Specialty Pastor with Rev. Ken B. Dyck

2. Awakening Spiritual Parenting in Today’s Families with Dr. Michelle Anthony

In the midst of the second workshop I realize an overarching theme to day that perhaps God’s Spirit was whispering to me…. Count on and trust that God will honor me, my family, my ministry, the people I interact with even if I mess up or simply have no idea where to go or what to do next. As long as I keep coming back to God trusting that he created me (us) for good, despite any unknowns or murkiness in life.

The unknown refers to the fact that next week my new boss, our new pastor at LCPC, begins her ministry (on Thursday). I’ve met her briefly a few times but really don’t know what God has in mind bringing her on board at the church. I definitely have my hopes (trying to put expectations in terms of hopes) of what can be possible at LCPC with a new permanent pastor. I’m excited to see what vision she will cast and where she wants to lead the church, I’m anxious to partner with her (and the other staff and congregation folk) where God wants to lead us.

That is the reason I chose the Associate/Specialty Pastor workshop – because it was about how to be supportive and partner with your senior pastor. I appreciate that Ken Dyck addressed the group saying that although the workshop title was worded with associate/specialty ‘pastor’ that anyone with a ‘director or coordinator’-ish title was welcome to the class. In this class we were encouraged to be ‘Helpmate’ to our lead pastor, to mesh our vision for our area of expertise with their vision for the congregation as a whole and a lot of other ways to support the pastor. Also learned how to honor the fact that each associate may individually have our own personal ‘calls’ in ministry and to know that we may not always get to work on that call in our current ministry, it may still be something we are being groomed for a future ministry opportunity. Until then we can try to work out our passions in our ministry if it is in line with the pastor’s vision or find ways to volunteer outside of our ministry until God is ready to have us use it fully elsewhere. Until that time we need to trust God with our passions and let him hang on to them for when the time is right.

The second workshop I chose first because family ministry is one of my greater ministry passions and second, because I’ve heard Dr. Michelle Anthony speak before and she has a lot of wise words on spiritual parenting. Essentially, Spiritual Parenting is not a method… it is putting God first in all the decisions we make as parents. It is putting up a cry for help in those moments when:
– you want to scream at your children for something they’ve done
– they ask you an ethical question and you’re not certain how to answer but need to
– you’re not a biblical or faith expert and your child wants to know what you believe about God, Jesus, etc.
And then in those moments you take the leap, regardless of your angst or messy faith, and be real with them.

There are places in my ministry that I know maybe not the ‘deepest’ secrets or hurts in a family but I know some of the hurts and pains that a parent shares about a child or that a child shares about a parent or family member. This is the murkiness I typed about a few paragraphs ago. I know in my heart that children’s and youth ministry is not just about the children and youth but the parents, grandparents, and all other adults invested in their lives. It is also about the adults in our congregation who may have a grandchild, niece or nephew who may never set foot in our church but the adult sets foot in that child’s life.  I want to be able to be supportive to these adults as they walk through sometimes murky journeys with children and youth. I don’t want to solve the problems, just be a resource and a support – especially in the spiritual arena. Not that I have all the answers now, but listening to the experiences and ideas of Dr. Anthony (who is a family ministry pastor and a mother of two) were very encouraging and support to me in my ministry (and as a parent).

The comments/ideas that struck me the most from the family ministry workshop were:
– We need to help parents learn to parent the soul, not just behaviors and the mind.
– Parents need permission to let their children into their messy faith journey. Even if it is vulnerable. That’s how children will learn to be OK with a messy faith journey.
– Rather than flood the current generation of children and youth with all the the things they shouldn’t be and shouldn’t do, what if we help them see who they are as children of God and teach them to trust in God and follow Christ in those moments when they have to make a choice.
Make sense?

Two more days to go.. tomorrow will be packed with much more information, I’m certain.

Also bonuses to the day – meeting up with Doug’s cousin Amanda who is also in children’s ministry in the family ministry conference, and meeting a fellow tweeter in real life… recognized his name when we were in the Associate pastor workshop. Nice to meet people IRL – as much as I have an addiction to online life. 🙂

Peace, ~L

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