If every day were a day to remember

A holiday set aside for honoring men and women who died serving the U.S. military, Memorial Day got started in the late 1860’s. That’s legions of seasons for reminiscence!

Memorial Day 2011, at San Francisco National Cemetery

What if every day were marked as a day for remembrance? Could we do it?

Probably not. It would take scads of intentionality. Sticky notes everywhere?
A sticky note with the words - Today. Remember!

It takes work to call to mind even ordinary stuff. But reminders can help.

In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, we read of people building cairns as a way of recollecting that God was at work in their lives.

Jacob built such a monument after distinctly experiencing God’s presence. He stacked stones and called the spot Bethel meaning “God is in this place.” Jacob would never forget that night.

In Joshua 4:1-7, God tells the Israelites to set up a “memento” made up of 12 stones. The purpose? So that when their children asked: “What is this memorial about?” they would then be able to tell the story of the great act that God had done to take care of his people. It was to be a reminder to those who were not there to witness this act, that God was great!

For times when you aren’t sure that God is real and present in your life. (Because those days happen, don’t they?) For questioning times.

a boy stacks stones on a beachThis month our Rotation key Bible verse is about remembering. Jesus advised his disciples and gave them a reminder:

Open quote markGo and make disciples of all nations … and surely I am with you always.   Matthew 28:19-20

 

What reminders can help us to not forget the every-day, great things that God does? That God is always with us?

What “memorials” — memory tools — can we set up to help us every day, to remember? Try creating something simple…

  • Stack stones: Go out for a walk to collect stones. Once back at home, in a family gathering (perhaps at the dinner table), artfully arrange your rocks while discussing God in your lives that day. Encourage contemplative manipulation of your rock pile.
  • Display a cross: Need a cross to display in your home? How about making one? Check out these ideas (goes to my Pinterst board).
  • Create an “altar” of sorts. Fill a space in your home with reminders of God at work. Allow touching and rearranging and additions and subtractions. (Photo on right is at the Nelson home around Easter time.)

 
Set up reminders to tell our children the stories of what God has done in our lives.


Photo credits:
A Memorial Day scene by Daniel Parks.
Sticky Note created from a Public Domain image.
Stacking stones by Roy Luck, on Flickr. Flickr images offered via Creative Commons.
Other photo thanks to the Nelson family.

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Prepare to worship (Yes, WITH your kids)

Kids in church
This weekend, if you are not at Family Camp join us in worship with your family.

There will not be any Cool Disciples workshops for 1st – 6th grades.

Don’t let this cause a panic!

How about a little preparation before worshipping as a family?

… To make it more meaningful for our kids?

(And/Or, use this material to discuss the service after-the-fact.)

Try it! Equip your kids to experience worship this Sunday.

a blue line

right pointing arrowIntroduce the start of a new (very short, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it!) Church Season.
Seasons of the church year - Lent, Ordinary Time, etc.In the Methodist tradition we have “Church Seasons” that separate our Liturgical Year. Each season focuses upon a different aspect of our Christian experience.

I wonder what season we are in?

Did you know that we have been in the season of Eastertide — or Easter Season — covering the 50 days after Easter? Well, this Sunday is the start of the shortest Church Season! It lasts one day! It’s called Pentecost.

Ask when in worship…

  • Ask: How can you tell what season we are in? (ans: Look in the bulletin)

    what season is it - Pentecost

    Compare that to last week’s… (pardon my rather tattered looking bulletin from last week):

    what season is it?

  • Ask: What do you notice that is different in the Sanctuary? (Hint: Look for changes in the colors used in worship – the cloths (called “paraments”) that cloak the altar or hang from the pulpit, or are worn by the clergy.

right pointing arrowRead the Bible story we’ll be hearing. 

What is Pentecost? Why not read about it in the Bible? Pentecost is a Jewish festival. It so happened that the disciples of Jesus were in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrived.

There are two times during our worship service on Sunday when we will hear scripture. The first time will be during the “Call to Worship.” We’ll be alternately hearing and saying a portion of Acts 2:1-4. Practice reading this as a family. Choose one person to read the non-bold words and everyone else reads the bold words… just like we’ll be doing in worship.

Open quote marksWhen the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Pentecost is celebrated by Christians as the day when God’s Spirit was given to his followers.

Other ways to “read” this story: Use the Beginner’s Bible, or watch the first 2 minutes of this video, or watch a portion of the video series “What’s in the Bible?” shown below. (If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)

right pointing arrowPonder the sermon topic. The title of the sermon to be given by Rev. Doug is “You Can’t Handle the Truth.” I’m wondering what that has to do with Pentecost? Perhaps this is where the 2nd Scripture reading comes to play. Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. This deals with Jesus promising the coming of the Spirit when he is no longer present with his disciples. The disciples’ were undoubtedly confused! Do you ever question whether Jesus is with us?

right pointing arrowListen to the hymns. (And perhaps sing them at home!)

  • Listen to “Surely the Presence of the Lord.” We’ll be singing the first verse of this hymn as a response to the Unison Prayer.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place;
I can feel his mighty power and his grace.
I can hear the brush of angels’ wing, I see glory on each face;
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.

  • Practice singing “Jesus Loves Me.” We’ll sing this one when the younger kids go off to Sunday’s Cool.

right pointing arrowPractice praying.

Pray this prayer: God of Grace, you sent the promised gift of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the women, upon Mary the mother of Jesus and upon his brothers. Fill your church with power, kindle flaming hearts within us, and cause us to proclaim your mighty works in every place, that all may call on you and know life abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

See you in worship!


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.
View the pie chart of church seasons that I created.
Arrow clipart from public domain via WPClipart.com.

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Kids grow up so fast!

Wasn’t it just yesterday that those children were no more than babies?
How can we already be approaching the close of another school year??

Clip art showing progression from babe to going-off-to-school

Let’s preserve a”milepost moment” with a tradition!

Every year at FUMC, we recognize a few of these prominent benchmarks. One recently happened at the downtown location.

2015 Kindergarteners

Our kindergarteners are looking forward to graduating to first grade!

To mark this occasion, each child received a gift from the church. Since reading together is an important activity, ahead of time their family chose a Bible storybook, or a book of devotions. These gifts were presented to the children. They had a few minutes to have a first look. Watch the slideshow below. (If you are reading in an email, you may have to click over to the blog to see the photos.)

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This particular milestone event is also important because moving up to 1st grade means that next fall their Sunday’s Cool experience will be a bit different. The kids had a chance to view these differences in action, as we took a tour of the “Older Children” Cool Disciples!

Here are a few notable differences:
  • Logo for the Workshop Rotation ModelThey will be rotating!
    (This method that we use for Sunday school is, after all, called the Workshop Rotation Model™, which you can learn more about by clicking on the logo on the right.)

    While in Kindergarten, the workshops came to the kids. As 1st graders they’ll be visiting the workshops – physically moving – to a different workshop each week.

  • a page from the church worship bulletin showing the children's infoHow do we figure out where they go each week?
    Starting in 1st grade, kids attend worship until the Children’s Moment. After that, they are dismissed (with a song!) to their workshops. Check out the Children’s Ministries page (it’s usually buff colored) in the bulletin to see where they are headed. Remember, your child’s workshop location changes every week!

    OR (here’s a better way) look ahead of time at home. (Or from your smartphone on your way to church – not the driver of course!) Check out the latest schedule post on this blog. Listed in the schedule post are descriptions of what each workshop will be doing. To generate a little bit of excitement I’d say, make a new habit: check it out on… Wednesdays!

  • But after the children’s moment in church, there is a large mob of kids – how does my 1st grader survive the crowd?
    We’ve got a system! The first grade Shepherd with the bannerFirst graders are big kids, but the older kids can look bigger! To help out with this, the 1st graders gather in the hallway outside of the Sanctuary. This allows all of the older kids to run excitedly walk ahead to their workshops. A volunteer Shepherd greets the 1st graders outside of the Sanctuary. After the older kids have disbursed, the first grade goes as a group to their workshop.

    On the first few weeks next fall, you may want to help your child find the group and say goodbye in the hall; then once they are familiar with the process, you can let them leave the Sanctuary by themselves.

  • Do I need to sign them in and out?
    Nope. 1st and 2nd graders will wait after class with an adult in their workshop, for pick-up by a parental unit. (3rd grade and up are dismissed to meet their families.) When you pick up your child do at least make eye contact with your child’s Shepherd!
  • What is a Shepherd (and how else can I get involved in this great program?
    Glad you asked! Shepherds rotate with the class. Thus, they get to know the kids and help out as directed by the Workshop Leader (by taking attendance, forming groups of kids for a game, or assigning roles to puppeteers). Ideally Shepherds would serve twice a month from Sept. through May. There are many other ways to get involved. Email to ask more questions!
  • Anything else?
    Why, yes! Continue to nurture your family spiritually. You know you have a hand in this?

    I realize it can be hard to teach kids how faith fits into life. That’s where this blog comes in…

    Helping you build disciples with everyday moments.

    Sign up to have posts sent directly to your inbox. Look up at the top right, for the email subscription box.

Have fun “homeschooling” in the ways of faith and grace!


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives with the exception of the “blog button” which was adapted from this Creative Commons photo.

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Take me to where love is needed

Jesus told us to go and make disciples.

But what does it mean to “make disciples?”

(I hope it doesn’t involve Bible-waving. And, is there something that doesn’t take much time, that I can fit in between collecting a paycheck, caring for my family, car-pooling, and crashing into bed exhausted every night?)

How are we suppose to follow what is called “The Great Commission?”

hands held in the shape of a heart over the face of a child

By noticing the need for love.

Teach your family to be on the look out for situations where love is needed.

  • Sometimes it is obvious: The latest disaster in the news. A homeless person. A child in tears.
  • Sometimes it can be more obvious with some training that makes us more sensitive to what a need looks like: A sibling, troubled by hurtful words. A child, alone at recess. A parent, struggling to get dinner ready.
    Present scenarios of these situations to your child. Ask them: “What can you do to provide some love in such a case?” Guide them to think of possible answers.
  • Sometimes it’s about stepping back and asking deeper questions about a situation. What stress is going on in her life that would cause her to react that way? Can I see the underlying events that have led him to become homeless? Will I observe her behavior as not mean, but as trying to gain control?… These situations require further discussion about how our findings may affect how we offer love. Discuss these situations over the family dinner table.

Jesus counts on us to be his hands and his feet — to do good things in the world — in all sorts of ways!


Photo credits:
Heart hands by Fanny, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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The Great Commission says to go. You don’t have to go far. (Start at home)

Open quote markGo out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.
— Jesus

United Methodists take Jesus’ words seriously. We say that our mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Sounds very lofty! How about we start at home?

How about we start by discipling the people who live with us?

It doesn’t have to happen in a formal, sit-down-and-study sort of way.

It happens when we apply faith to every-day life with our words.

For example, today, when springtime is bursting out around us, try pointing out God in simple ways.

a Redbud tree in bloomWhen you see bright colors…
Say: Notice how God is painting beauty all around us!

a single tulip next to a tree

See a single flower (all by itself)?
Say: God planted that one just to cheer someone up.

For the sounds of spring…
Say: Listen to the birds chirping; God gave them voices to announce spring.

When it rains…
Say: God is watering the flowers.

baby birds in a nestFor springtime babies…
Say: Jesus was resurrected from the dead because God promised new life. Isn’t it fun to notice new life?

 
fog in the morning in the valley

When fog swirls…
Say: God wanted to just kiss the trees.

 
For a sunset…
God’s got his paintbrushes out again.

a sunset through the trees

When Jesus says “Go” this applies to our everyday going about – going to church, going to school, going to the mall, going to play sports, or going to a concert – It means going about our daily lives. It is a process with rich rewards.

Learn the language of faith. Together as a family.


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

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Your mission (should you choose to accept it) – The Great Commission

A painting, Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission, by Otto Adolph Stemler

Our next Rotation follows right on the heels of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus appeared to his disciples and gave an important assignment we call the “Great Commission.”

These are marching orders for all of us! Read about Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:16-20. Here is how I paraphrase Jesus’ instructions:

Open quote markFor everyone you meet as you go about your daily life, train them in discipleship, teaching the practice of Christ-like living.

These are not mere suggestions. Jesus clearly states, “Do these things.”
Join us as we explore this story!

a blue line

For Saturdays at the Green Wood location, here is the schedule…

Date Workshop or Activity
5/2 Art Workshop
5/9 Games Workshop
5/16 Cooking Workshop
5/23 Worship with your family. The sermon will be about Pentecost. Read the scripture ahead of time.
5/30 Writing Den Workshop

And on Sundays, at the downtown location…

Date Our workshops for 1st through 5th graders…
Writing Den Cooking Games Art
Starts in Room 215 & finishes in 211 Social Hall Room 204 Room 212
5/3 1st grade 4th grade 3rd grade 2nd & 5th grade
5/10 2nd & 5th grade 3rd grade 4th grade 1st grade
5/17 3rd grade 2nd & 5th grade 1st grade 4th grade
5/24 Worship with your family. It’s Pentecost.
Read the scripture from the book of Acts ahead of time.
5/31 4th grade 1st grade 2nd & 5th grade 3rd grade

And here’s what the 6th graders will be doing this month… (They’ll always be in the Pine Room!)

5/3 5/10 5/17 5/24 5/31
Discuss our up-coming visit to UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship for 7th-12th graders on Sunday evenings) Art Workshop Assist the younger kids (preschoolers and K’s) with an art project It’s Pentecost! Worship with your family. Read the scripture ahead of time. Year end party!

What’s happening in each workshop?

  • In the Writing Den Workshop students will learn about “bucket filling” and create instructional signs that that inspire others how to do kind acts. This portion of the workshop will take place in homemade “forts.”
  • In the Cooking Workshop students will make play dough and create sculptures of how Jesus would live his life today. This process will help kids to see how they might live a life that fulfills the Great Commission.
  • In the Games Workshop students will play a warm-up game that will help kids remember our Key Bible Verse. Then play a game full of energy and movement (based on Cranium Hullabaloo) that will help the kids learn the story details, Bible organization, and ways that they can be Jesus’ disciples.
  • In the Art Workshop students will create quilled-paper handprints, to remind kids that Jesus commands them to “go out” in everyday living and look for and use opportunities to teach others about Jesus.

On Saturday nights and on Sunday mornings at FUMC our Cool Disciples experience Rotation Model Christian education, as they learn about Bible stories and concepts through kid-friendly multimedia workshops. If you are in the area please join us for the fun learning at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, MI.


Photo credits:
Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission, a painting by Otto Adolph. Offered by Waiting For the Word, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Youth Worship: Be Still & Know That I Am God

This coming weekend the youth lead worship.

Youth worship 2014
Youth Worship downtown 2014

Why should this be a do-not-miss event?

  • Young kids need mentors – mentors beyond their parents; mentors whose shoes they will one day wear. Watching the youth (kids in 7th-12th grade) allows your kids a peek at their (potential) future self.
  • We’ll hear about being calm in situations that look far from peaceful. God is always with us!
  • We encourage attendance on Saturday and Sunday by not holding any Cool Disciples workshops.

Youth Worship 2015 Logo

This year’s theme for Youth Worship is from Psalm 46:10a

Open quote mark Be still, and know that I am God.

How about a little bit of discussion before hand? And by all means afterwards too! How about at the family dinner table (or wherever your family gathers). Use these discussion points:

  • Sit still! When did you last hear that command?
  • Why should we be still?
  • What are ways we can be still? (Be calm, quiet, silent…)
  • What are situations where being still can be especially important? (Bird-watching comes to mind. What about listening for God?)
  • How do you suppose being quiet enhances our ability to hear God?
  • What are ways we can help ourselves “be still” – both our bodies and our minds? Some ideas: Going to a quiet place. “Emptying” our mind of worries. Holding a particular item from nature such as a pine cone or a rock. Breath prayer
  • Should we be thankful for conditions which require us to be still? (I know. I know. You can’t wait to be active again, but I’ll bet now you’ll be able to think of something to do while you are waiting!)

What ideas do you have for being still? Perhaps you’ll meet God.
Youth on the Soulfull Retreat
Youth on the Soulfull Retreat, 2015


Photo credits:
Photos & logo design by FUMC members, © 2015. Used by permission.

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Building Hope

Participants on the mission trip to Henderson Settlement

Last week, on the Appalachia mission trip, we worked at building.

All 36 of us (did I count right?) ages seven and up, mostly from FUMC in Ann Arbor, Michigan, formed teams and worked in different locations around Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Kentucky.

On our first day, we didn’t know it, but we were building hope.

The Henderson Settlement signWe found out that hope can be in short supply in Bell County, Kentucky: Over one-third of residents (36%) live in poverty. Of the 136 families on Henderson’s “helping” list, the average household income is $12,864. Hope desperately needed here.

So we built! Adding skirting and siding makes for a warmer, more pleasant looking house. When your home base transpires, you feel hope.

a crew of kids puts on skirtingThe team works at siding

We mucked the barn (a more agreeable home for goats and for goat-workers!) and dug a trench to help fix someone’s water problem. A little bit of hope, restored.

Mucking out the goat barnA crew digs a trench for a water line

Kids and adults, painting, posthole-digging, persevering in spite of setbacks… Working side by side…

Engaged in hope-building.

Painting & beadboard installation crewtrenching pair

Working in the greenhousea team works at building a corral

Spreading gravel, counting soup labels, transplanting seedlings, trenching…

God through his Holy Spirit, working among us, spreading hope.

Open quote mark And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.  Romans 5:5

And amazingly enough, in the midst of all of our work, we also had fun! Friendships flourished!

playing a board gamethe finale of the MYF Benediction?

Enjoy the slideshow below.

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Join us next year!


Photo credits:
Taken by members of the mission team and by Henderson Settlement staff. Used with permission.

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