Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness (NYAPC Children and Youth 5/22)

Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness is on the rise in our region, especially among families.  3.5 million Americans will experience homelessness and 1.5 million of those are children. According to the National Cimages-2oalition for Homelessness, in the last 20-25 years, the 2 major factors for the rise of those experiencing homelessness are a shortage of affordable housing and an increase in overall poverty.  We see this reality all around us, in our neighborhoods, church, school, and in the many the other places we call community.

This Sunday as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, I think the Trinity has something to say about how we relate to those who experience homelessness and how we as God’s creatures should seek to relate to one another.  In the Trinity, we see the the three parts (or beings) of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing in perfect union with one another.  Each part of the Timagesrinity perfectly indwells another part of the Trinity.  Though they are different and distinct, they are all One.  We confess that this One and Three, Three in One God,  is a concrete  God very much alive and active  in the world.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann  says that the New Testament witness, the story of the gospel is “the great love story of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a divine love story in which all are involved together with heaven and earth.”

It is this love-story for the world that drives this perfect unity existing from creation to revelation, from birth to death, and from the experience of being a creaturely being on Earth to seeking to being part of God’s kingdom here on Earth. We too are to strive to live in perfect harmony with one another. 

We, of course, are fallen sinful creatures who clearly don’t live in perfect harmony with one another.  We do all kinds of things we shouldn’t — thinking not so good things about even those we love the most – and doing all the things we know we shouldn’t do – lying, cheating, boasting….But just because we don’t live in harmony doesn’t mean that we should try.  Affirming the power of the God who created and continues to create new life, the power of God who did a NEW and AMAZING thing in Jesus Christ, and the every powerful force of the Holy Spirit, we too can lean into Trinity-LIVING with one another.

I hope we can experience a bit of Trinity-Living this Sunday, as we gather with the children, youth and participating adults to learn about what it means to be experiencing homelessness here in DC.  We will learn some facts about experiencing homelessness, hear stories of being homeless in DC, and  have a chance to make a personal care-kit and a card  for someone experiencing homelessness.  These time together will hopefully serve as an entry point to lean a  a little further into our calling to see God’s good creation in every being and to stretch ourselves into new relationships modeled after the relationships of God.

Here is the plan for the children-youth-parent-teacher contingent for 5/22:

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Pentecost! NYAPC Children and Youth

Happy Pentecost!  Happy Birthday, church!   This Sunday, May 15th will be a fun time to be a child (and hopefully a youth) at NYAPC.  We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Birthday of the Church, and our diversity/ unity as One Church.

Throughout the morning will PLAY with HOLY SPIRIT sticks that I made (idea thanks to Pinterest). In the Gospels of Luke and John,  John the Baptist says that Jesus Christ will baptize us with both water and fire.  The Holy Spirit comes to us in so many forms — fire, water, the dove, and the wind for example.

We can experience the Holy Spirit  every part of life, for the the Holy Spirit is God’s energy and support for all of creation.  Using these Spirit sticks, made from sticks the little guy and I found in our neighborhood and ribbon, we will use our whole bodies to move like the Holy Spirit we see all around us.

During Gathering Time will also have fun with GLOW sticks with a HOLY SPIRIT dance and act-silly party. Happy Birthday, church! 

It is our last week of the Holy Moly series this year for Sunday School.

  • PreK: Will have fun!
  • K-4: classes will learn the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-45
  • Middle and High Schoolers: Will continue to plan for youth Sunday.  Please see your email for the planning document.

Next week, May 22, we will be doing a special mission-project to benefit the guests and friends from the Radcliffe Room.  We will be assembling personal care-kits and helping sort clothes for the Radcliffe Room homeless ministry.

For worship play, we will read the story of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-21 from the Desmond Tutu Storybook Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We will also read a few books from the local library “The Secret Birthday Message” by Eric Carle, “Say Hello, Ciao, Holy, Konichiwa…” by Rachel Isadora and “One Family by George Shannon, which all touch on the important themes of Pentecost:  New Beginnings (birthdays), diversity, and unity within diversity.

 

 

 

 

 

Discipleship! Children and Youth for April 17, 2016

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Upper Elementary Students Bowling Fun! 

As a reminder, you are invited to PARK-PLAY Saturday, April 16 from 10:00-11:30 am at Bluemont Park in Arlington.  The Tewells will bring the eats.  Hope to see you!  (If you would RSVP to me (alice) if you haven’t already, that would be great.)


 

Hello!  This week we continue to think and talk about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  For gathering time, we will continue with the great math problem the upper elementary kiddos started last week.  We will talk about discipleship and JOY, particularly the connection of discipleship to the things we love.  I talk about this idea (and the math) more here.

For worship play, the kiddos will read the story about Tabitha-Dorcus from Acts 9:32-43. I’m preaching on this text this week. The take away for the kiddos is to think about Tabitha’s amazing care and generous acts toward those who needed help the most. (The widows).  We should remember Tabitha as a great disciple who served people by making clothes for them.  Clothes making, especially back then was really hard work!  She might even had to shear the sheep, spin the wool, and then weave it on the loom before even sewing it together. How has someone shown God’s love to you by making you something? How can the kiddos show God’s love by making something with their hands for others? 

If there is enough time, the children will read Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon and other related books.

During children’s time in worship Marilyn Seiber will be sharing pictures the children at the First Reformed Church of Havana, Cuba made on gratefulness.  Our children will be invited to draw pictures on what gratefulness means for them.  In the context of the Tabitha story, they might think of the feelings of gratefulness the widows felt when making the hand-spun-sewn clothes.  Without Tabitha, they might not clothes to wear!  Tabitha’s hand-made clothes for them were literally life-giving.

For Sunday School, here’s what’s coming up:

  • PreK:  Class 2 of 2 on NOAH!
  • K-4:  Mary and Martha
  • Middle School/ High School:  Statements of Faith Part 2!

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-Alice

(beginning)STEM Sunday School – JOY + Discipleship = ?

Last week some of the upper elementary kiddos did a great math problem.   We were talking about what it means to be a disciple (a follower of Jesus Christ).

Days in the week (7) multiply by hours per day (24) = 168  hours

They figured they spend about 3 hours a week at church.  So, 168-3 = 165 hours.

Then they figured they sleep about 8 hours a night.  S0 8 X 7 = 56

165 total not-in-the-church building hours minus 56 hours of sleep = 109 hours

109 hours is the number of hours each week that we are to be active disciples in the world. 

So, what do you DO with your 109 hours?  How do you ACT in your 109 hours?  What do you THINK about? How do you EXPERIENCE this time?

We’ll be considering this question for the next few weeks.

We might think 109 hours –that’s a lot.  That’s a lot of time serving others — and frankly a lot of time being actively loving and kind and … perhaps that might sound a bit tiring.

And it should sound like A LOT because it is.  But is also shouldn’t sound like an impossible to accomplish number.

Being a disciple is all about serving God.  And serving God should be about JOY.

What brings you JOY?   

So the math problem for this week is:

X = One thing that representing the thing that brings you joy; X will always be 1 for this problem…

Y = the number of hours you do that thing in the a week

Z = total number of hours to think about how that thing that brings YOU joy is growing you as a disciple of Christ

(X)(Y)  =   Z

For example, for me,

X = running outside;  Y = 3 hours a week

so (1)(3) = 3

So for my mighty 3 hours,  my faith is strengthened through outside running.  My senses are cleared.  I’m grounded to the land through the strike of my foot on the pavement and the passing scenery.  I’m connected to those around me by just witnessing who also uses the path.  When I run, I give thanks for the strength to do just that, to live in a place where I feel safe and secure, and to be able to have the freedom in my day to spend working on my mental and physical health.  In these 3 hours, I hope I’m renewed a bit to be a disciple in the world.

So, what brings you JOY?  How does this JOY help you be a disciple of Christ? 

Here’s the challenge:

Figure out what brings you joy!  It can be lots of things.  Take a picture of each thing. Then, think about how that thing helps your faith grow.  When your faith is growing, you are growing as a disciple of Christ.  Write a caption on the photo and email it to me or post it to the church Facebook page.

Here’s my example:

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Running + Faith = Helping me get grounded 

(And I’m clearly not a math teacher/ leader/ guide, so I hope the kiddos (or anyone) can help me come up with a more complex math problem)

-Alice

Statement of Faith Writing Helps…

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Dear Church!  3 of the youth (9th/10th graders) have gone through a year and half process of learning about, reflecting, and praying on their faith, engaging in service, and being in dialogue with each other, older high schoolers and adult mentors.  Now, it’s time for them to begin to write their Statements of Faith to present to the Session in May and to be received into membership in the church on Youth Sunday, June 19th. (also Juneteeth and Father’s Day) 

Will you pray for our students as they write their statements?

Will you also consider revisiting what YOU believe by writing a statement of faith too?

Here are some basic guidelines (written mostly for our confirmation students, but Alice thinks others could find these useful too.)

Basic Guidelines:

Your Statement of faith is a reflection of what you believe about God and faith at this point in your life, right now.  It should sound like you.

It is okay if you have written a statement of faith before. Perhaps you believe something a bit different than you did before.  Or, perhaps your statement has developed a bit since the last time you wrote it.

Your statements should be in the first person “I” example:  “I believe God is bigger than time and space because I experience God in everyday moments of life.  I see God not just in times when we are supposed to experience God, like in church, but also in less expected times like on my way to school.  In these experiences, I believe that God both huge in that God is in the whole world and small in that God completely knows me….…” 

Tip:  State WHAT it is that you are talking about WHAT you BELIEVE about it and WHY it is important to you and your faith.

It is totally okay to have DOUBT in your statement of faith.

If you aren’t sure what something means, you might check back in any notes from the last year and our big confirmation packet of what we have done so far.  You might use the books we have used including the Gospel of Mark, Marked, the Psalms, Genesis, Faith Seeking Understanding by Daniel Migliore and The Quest for the Living God by Elizabeth Johnson.

You might also look up faith statements written by other people including the Brief Statement of Faith, which we use every week in worship for our Affirmation of Faith.  The Nicene Creed is also a good starting place. 

Things you should probably include in your statements:

How you relate to/ What you believe about:

  • Godimages-4
  • Jesus
  • Holy Spirit
  • The Trinity (Triune God)
  • The Bible
  • The Church
  • Baptism/ Communion (The two Sacraments)
  • Worship
  • Grace and love

Then, you might also want to pick some from this list: 

  • What God’s calling-vocation-purpose for you is
  • Mission- Service
  • Stewardship-Giving back to God
  • Creation-Life Cycle
  • Prayer & Spirituality
  • Church history
  • Reforming and changing church
  • Evangelism-Sharing Faith
  • Other religions and people with different beliefs
  • Process of faith formation

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-Alice

We are ALL God’s Disciples! NYAPC Children and Youth for April 10, 2016

April/ early May theme:  We are ALL God’s Disciples!   Starting April 10 through May 8, we will be talking about Discipleship.  What is a disciple?  (A person who follows God, and for our context especially the the life-giving love of Jesus Christ ) Were disciples only the 12 disciples that follow Jesus? (No, even though they are the ones features in Matthew, Mark and Luke)  Were there female disciples too? (Of course! The Gospel of John certainly thinks so.)  What are ways we can be God’s disciples? (This will be our topic of conversation on April 10, 17, 24, May 1 and May 8.)

2bd3693e5895863559d8056bc0ec5799Children’s Time/ Worship Play:

We will be focusing on the Lectionary Gospel text from John 21:1-19.  It is “Breakfast with Jesus”/ “Fish Fry”/ Jesus eating fish with the disciples after the Resurrection.

In worship play, we will read the story from the “Holy Moly” Bible and Breakfast with Jesus by Mark Taylor.

We will also focus on the idea that disciples caught 153 (strange number!) fish.  Jesus wants us to share God’s love with even more  people.  We will talk about how we share God’s love and will color fish!

If we have time we will make up hand motions to the Song “Will you come and follow me?”

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Gathering Time:

We will continue the conversation of discipleship and fish with the prompt, “I am God’s disciple!  I will follow God by….”  We’ll make a game out of it like the ones where you go around the room repeating names.

We will sing “Will you come and follow me”

Will you come and follow me

If I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

And never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown,

Will you let my name be known,

Will you let my life be grown

In you and you in me?

Sunday School:

  • PreK: Noah! (and because the story is so awesome for PreK, the lesson will be continued on April 17)
  • K-4 (Upper and Lower Elementary):  The Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-37
  • Middle School: Death (still in the Holy Week Series) on Mark 15:16-32
  • Confirmation/ High School:  Workshop 1 of 2 on writing Statements of Faith.  Even if you have already written one, it is good to write one again!  Our faith is certainly always growing and developing, isn’t it?  Perhaps you’d like to write a Statement of Faith for the first time or again.  Here’s the Statement of Faith writing helps to help the confirmation students.  I think it could be helpful to others too.

 

 

 

Journeying through Holy Week and into Easter with Children

As we journey toward Holy Week and look toward Easter, you might be thinking about how you might honor this most important week of the Christian liturgical year with children. Scroll below and you will find information about Easter too.

Holy Week ideas:

  • During the week, go through your Holy WeekIMG_2669 5 Box that the children made last week in gathering time.  If you’d like one, I have extras. You could also make your own.
  • Read the Bible with your children.  Start at Matthew 26, Mark 13 or Luke 22 and read through the end. We will be reading the John text in church on Sunday.
  • This resource from the First Presbyterian Church of New York is good for more ideas and reflection.
  • The United Methodist Church also explains it well here.
  • You could also recreate your own worm composting bin.  Here is my most recent post on it.
  • Come to the sanctuary anytime when we are open (Wednesday, Thursday 8 am until 9 pm, Friday 8 am – 5 pm and Saturday 8 am – 1 pm) and take a self-guided reflective tour of the sanctuary windows going from Creation to Revelation.  (better for older children.) 
  • Come to the Maundy Thursday soup supper at 6 pm and the service at 7 pm.  We will be having the service in a circle this year in the Radcliffe Room.  Instead of foot washing, we do hand washing.  We will also serve communion.  It is interactive.  Childcare is available from 6 pm – 8:30 pm.
  • Come to Good Friday service at 12 noon in the sanctuary.  We will read and meditate on the last 7 words of Christ.    Or, honor the day at home and talk about God knows our sadness and our pain.  IMG_2673 5

Easter Sunday Announcements:

  • All children are invited to SING at the 8:45 am service.  Please arrive by 8:00 am to practice.
  • There is a special Easter breakfast at 7:45 and 9:45 am in Peter Marshall Hall.
  • All children are invited to an Easter Egg hunt in Peter Marshall Hall at 10:15 am.
  • There is no Sunday School on Easter.  We WILL have Worship Play at both services and will do a special Easter planting project to conclude our worm-bin composting experience for the season.