Children’s Ministry News – 27th May

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Pentecost Resources:


This week’s video for worship at home or streamed family worship is the story of Pentecost. You can find it here – please do share it to anyone who might find it useful.

I’ve also copied a Pentecost scavenger hunt I used when I was a children’s worker – we did it at church, but it could easily be done at home by a family, or in many homes over a Zoom Sunday School meetup!

Christ Church St. Lawrence, in Sydney, has some Pentecost reflections and activities that could easily be done at home, as does Flame Creative Kids.

Messy Church for Messy Times:

Our “Messy Church for Messy Times” activities are in full flow – we have Zoom cafes every day this week from 2 – 3 pm and you’re very welcome at any or all of the remaining ones. For the Zoom link, email me!

You can also use the video session we’ve put together, featuring prayers, activities, music, and a story. It’s led by Bishops, Archdeacons, their children, some Messy Church families from All Saints Clifton and Southill, and me.

We’re also having Twitter conversations about Messy Church – use the hashtag #MessyChurchAtHome and follow my Twitter feed on @stalbanscme

Keeping in Touch:

Church Print Hub has made downloadable prayer postcards saying “Loving God, Bless My Family Today.” You could send them to Messy Church or toddler group families to encourage them to pray for each other and remind them you’re praying for them. Or you could make them available to families to send to relatives they haven’t seen for a long time. You can order them in packs of 20 here.

Peace,

Margaret

Pentecost Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a Pentecost scavenger hunt I put together for a half-term club when I was a children’s worker. We did it in the church, but you could easily do it at home as well, after online church on Pentecost, or as part of a family service.pentecost-people-1024x612

Here are the rules I set:

  1. You can be as creative as you like in deciding how the objects fit these clues. But each object can only be used for ONE clue.
  2. If you find something that can’t be moved, you can take us to it for judging time or take a picture of it and use that.
  3. One point for each item you find.

Pentecost Scavenger Hunt

CAN YOU FIND:

A flame

Something that can be used to make fire

Something in a different language

A picture of water

Something that reminds you of wind

Something that helps tell the story of Jesus to people who haven’t heard it

A dove

Something that brings light into darkness

Something that could help someone who is afraid feel brave again

Something that shows Jesus’ friends

Something with lots of colours

A lock or key

Children’s Ministry News, 20th May 2020

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You can download this week’s edition of Children’s Ministry News At Home here..

There seems to be a problem with the links in the PDF, apart from the email link for the Ronni Lamont event.

Here they are:
YouTube video of the Ascension.

Rochester Diocese Faith at Home resources, including Ascension and Pentecost

Dove and Flame template

Engage Worship – Ascension and Pentecost

For Messy Church Zoom cafes link (M – F 25th – 29th May, 2 pm), email cme@stalbans.anglican.org

Children’s Ministry News -12 May 2020

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As some of you may know, Julie has been put on furlough for now. This means I’m doing the administration – and I’m on a steep learning curve on how things work. So this is a different place from the one you’re used to finding Children’s Ministry News. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal next week, but in the meantime, you can download the newsletter here:

Children’s Ministry News at Home, 12 May 2020

Foot-washing at Home

Part of the Maundy Thursday service, which we’ll all be missing this year, is the chance to have our feet washed, to remember how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. Of course we can’t do that this year. However, you can gather your family together and do this part of the service at home. Try doing it after dinner, which is when the foot-washing happened in the story, after the Last Supper.

READ: the story of the Last Supper and the foot-washing as you sit down to dinner. Use a children’s Bible or watch the first few minutes of my Maundy Thursday video. Then eat dinner as usual.

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AFTER DINNER, get out a bowl of water (lukewarm), and a towel, and take turns washing each other’s feet.

ASK, what does it feel like to have your feet washed? Who normally washes you and looks after you?

PRAY: 1) We’ve been washing our own hands more often than usual these days. We’ve been doing it to protect and serve others. Pray for those who are in danger and need protection.

2) Washing is an act of care. Jesus washed his friends’ feet to show them how to care for each other. The people who wash us are usually our caregivers – parents, nurses, etc. Pray for the caregivers.

3) When we wash each other’s feet, we touch each other. Safe and caring touch is one of the ways we show love. People who are isolated aren’t able to touch or hug their loved ones. Pray for those who are starved of touch. Pray for those people we love who we can’t see or touch right now.

FINISH: at the end of the service, at church, we would strip the altar – take away all the beautiful things and hide them away. Clear the table. Maybe cover up or put away some of the pretty things on our walls, especially crosses or pictures of Jesus. Finish by saying the Lord’s Prayer together.

 

Maundy Thursday at Home

I just made an altar. I used an IKEA side table from my living room. I have a bunch of shawls and scarves – one of them is purple. So I used that as an altar cloth.

I added things based on what’s on the altar at church: a Bible, flowers, candles, a cross, something that reminds us of Jesus.

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You can make your own cross out of paper, or sticks, or Play-Doh, or Lego, if you don’t have one. You can draw a picture of Jesus if you don’t have an icon. You can use a children’s Bible or make a book of your own, with your favourite Bible stories in it. Be creative!

On Thursday, if we were at church, we would finish our service by “stripping the altar” – taking out all the decorations from the church, to make it look simple, and bare, and plain. This reminds us how everything was stripped away from Jesus – his friends, his safety, his life – and makes us look at the church as a place that’s hollowed out, like the tomb. It also makes Easter even more special, when we get to see the church decorated with EVERYTHING – flowers and bright colours and candles and so much more.

So why not make an altar today or tomorrow? Leave it up, and then, after your supper on Thursday, put on some music (suggestions below), and, as a family, strip the altar? An idea for how to do it can be found here. I just changed it a bit to have everything in one place as you begin, instead of spread out around the house.

Psalm 22, Westminster Abbey Choir.

Miserere Mei, by Allegri. Contemplative setting of Psalm 51, asking God to forgive us and make us new.

A modern, piano-and-singer setting of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”

 

Bereavement at home

It’s tough, but hard to escape – more children than usual will be bereaved in the next few months, or already have been. These bereavements may be made more complicated by isolation – children won’t be able to attend funerals, visit relatives who are dying and say goodbye, meet up with friends, go to support groups or counselling, and so on.

We’re hoping to have a webinar about supporting grieving children – to hear more, make sure you’re subscribed to Children’s Ministry News (email us to get added) or follow me on Twitter at @stalbanscme.

However, there are also many resources already available.

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Child Bereavement UK offers a lot of support and help – I’ve linked directly to their page with videos and info sheets, which may be most immediately useful, but do explore their website to find out more.

Childhood Bereavement Network has lots of information and support, as well as cards

children can purchase and give to family members to tell them what they need, and how best to support that individual child. (There are also cards for children to give to friends/teachers/etc – these can be photographed and sent via email or social media, with parental supervision.) Some of the things on the cards can’t be done at this time, but others can still be done, or reworked.

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I have a Pinterest board of good children’s books about death, dying, and grief. You could send the link to parents, or you could buy a book and have it shipped directly to a grieving child. I also used to buy notebooks and special pens for children in my church who had been bereaved. I told them they could use the notebook to write to the person who had died, or as a journal, or to scribble angrily or tear up pages if they needed to, or to draw, or in any way that would help them. It was their safe place.

The Diocese of Birmingham, with help from staff at hospices, has put together guidance on supporting children through loss and bereavement. Download it here: Supporting_children_through_loss_and_bereavement

Louise Warner, my counterpart in the Diocese of Leicester, has put together some ideas for how children can make memories, and remember someone who has died, at home. From making a memory box, to writing a prayer, to planting something, there are lots of great, practical suggestions. Download it here: Thinking about someone that has died

If you have your own resources, or ideas, or thoughts, please do let me know in the comments!

Church at Home

This blog has been completely silent during the Covid-19 crisis, as I’ve been putting my energies into making videos for families to use to worship at home (you can find them here) and putting together a Pinterest board with all the resources I’ve found, both for home worship and for helping children with anxiety. You can find the Pinterest board here.

However, a few resources have been coming along in Word or PDF format, which can’t be easily pinned, so I’m going to use this blog to share some of those.

This first one is from the Rev Louise Collins, from Elstree and Borehamwood. It follows Jesus’s journey through Holy Week, through the eyes of the animals that accompanied him – and, through the animal imagery, connects Holy Week to other stories of Jesus’s teaching and ministry as well. There are also craft ideas and prayers. Click on the link below to download.

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Wild @ St Michaels Easter Tale with craft and prayers 3

Remember that you are dust …

Ash Wednesday is next week. I’ve noticed, this year, a bit of concern around Ash Wednesday and Lent that I hadn’t seen before, in relation to children. In several places, people have expressed reservations about using the words “remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return,” with children.

My opinion is that, in the right context, these words are powerful. Ash Wednesday and Lent are times when we confront our mortality, and our fear of death, and we acknowledge the ways in which the world is messed up and broken and hard and scary. At Easter, we hear the good news that God’s love is stronger than sin and death.

If we paper over the real fear of death, and the real existence of sin, we provide a faith that is always happy and nice and kind, and we leave children alone with the fear of death and the existence of sin, with no tools to process these challenging topics, and no sense that the church is a place where we can wrestle with these things.

Here is what I did, for many years, at the end of our pancake party. Most of these children would not be in church on Ash Wednesday, so this was a way of moving from Shrove Tuesday into Ash Wednesday, creating the feast/fast contrast, and introducing the season.

Ideally, you will have a small outdoor space to do this in.

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ASH WEDNESDAY ACTIVITY WITH CHILDREN:

Outside:

Large metal cooking pot from kitchen, possibly elevated on bricks

Dried palm crosses

A tiny bit of oil, if needed, to help them ignite

Fire extinguisher and bucket of water

Long matches

Small bowl and spoon

Inside, in the community space:

Blank paper and pencils/markers

Pictures of “sin” – always communal, and social, eg pollution, violence, poverty. We’re looking at how we as a society fail to create the world God wants, and grieving for it, NOT at personal “failures.”

What I do:

1. Gather everyone by the door. Ask who knows why we have pancakes today. Gather answers from the group. Use the answers to get to the idea that we’re about to start a season called LENT, and that during Lent, we remember all the hard and sad and scary things that Jesus came into the world to save us from.

2. Ask what are some of the hard and sad and scary things in the world – gather responses. If some of them match the pictures, you can hold them up and show the group. (Here we can think in generic terms about things we all do as individuals – like being cruel to each other – and also things we all do as a group, or as humanity – like war, and poverty.)

3. Explain that Lent is 40 days long, because when Jesus was just starting out his work, he spent 40 days in the desert all alone with God.

4. Explain that before we start this sad time, we like to have a really good party! And that in the old days, people used to give up some special treats, like sugar and eggs and meat, so they celebrated right before by eating all these things. And nowadays, we might want to give up a treat, or take on an extra job, to help us get closer to God, and think about what it was like for Jesus in the desert, without special treats. Or we might want to try giving up a bad habit, or something we do that hurts God’s world, or ourselves, or each other.

5. Pass out the blank pieces of paper and pencils. Ask people to think about EITHER something they might give up/take on for Lent, OR something in the world that’s hard or sad or scary, that they want Jesus to help with.

6. Go outside and form a circle around the pot. Have people put their pieces of paper in the pot, along with the palm crosses. As far as possible, clear people away from the direction of the wind.

7. Set everything in the pot on fire. Ask people to think about how we’re burning the parts of ourselves we want to give up, or the hard/sad/scary things in the world. We’re turning them to ash. And we’re remembering that at the end of Lent, we remember Jesus dying to save the world, and that we will someday die too. But we know that Easter comes after that, when Jesus rose with new life to share with all of us.

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8. When enough of the papers/palm crosses have burned that you have sufficient ash, put a few drops of water on it to cool it off (Note: it’s been pointed out to me that apparently it’s dangerous to cool ashes with water, and they’ll burn. I tested it on myself first, and, both on myself and with children, over many years, have never had an issue. I have no idea why mine were fine and others’ reports are different. Perhaps the large volume of paper – the ashes are, at the end of this, more paper than palm – is what made the difference. Regardless, it’s definitely worth testing an approximation of your mixture in advance.). Gather some ash into the small bowl with the spoon, and ash the person next to you. Have people practice the words “remember you are dust, and to dust you will return,” and have people go around the circle, ashing the person next to them. Finish by inviting the children to ash you. Being ashed by a group of children, reminding you that you are dust, is unfailingly an incredibly powerful experience for me.

9. Wash your hands. They will still be filthy, through the end of the next day. It’s seasonally appropriate.

The Knitted Bible!

Today I visited The Knitted Bible in its latest host site of Hampstead Parish Church. While St. Albans Diocese has an impressive fondness for knitted Bible stories – our cathedral’s large knitted Nativity, the smaller knitted Nativity and Noah’s Ark available to borrow from our Resource Centre, and many other knitted Bible sets around the Diocese – this goes beyond even our impressive yarn-based Biblical efforts.

It consists of around 35 scenes, from Creation to Jesus’s breakfast on the beach after his resurrection, each painstakingly re-created in yarn and stuffing, often with ingenious sets made of everything from kitchen roll to upside-down flower pots. (Please note: it does include the sacrifice of Isaac, without a huge amount of material provided about that story apart from “God wanted to see if Abraham would obey,” which is a simplistic reading that can be damaging to children’s ideas of God, and scary for them. Rabbis I have spoken with tend to interpret that story more as Abraham misunderstanding God, thinking God wants human sacrifice like the pagan gods of the time, and God stopping Abraham, clarifying he does not require human sacrifice. You may want to remove this scene from your display or provide additional material to give it context.)

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The Garden of Eden is in the church’s font.

The Knitted Bible was created in 2008 by over 40 people at St. George’s URC in Hartlepool. It is available for churches to borrow without charge – however, it’s booked up very far in advance. If you’re interested in borrowing it for your church in late 2021 or even 2022, contact information can be found here.

While that may seem far away, it’s definitely worth considering if this is something you might be interested in doing. I spoke with the stewards on site, the church’s administrator, and with the Rev. Jeremy Fletcher, Vicar of Hampstead. The stewards and the administrator told me they’ve received a marked increase in foot traffic in the church over the ten days the Knitted Bible has been in situ. The stewards said it’s been a wonderful point of engagement with the local community – the church school has brought several classes to visit, it’s been out during worship for people to look at and explore, and people of all ages have engaged with it.

Rev. Jeremy said, “lots of people have told me they expected to be charmed by it. And that they were surprised to find that they were both charmed and moved by it.” He suspects a lot of what’s so moving about it is the detail. Every person and animal is an individual, and has their own story to tell, and little details in the setup – from a steward in the act of pouring wine at the Wedding at Cana to the little foil tip on a Roman soldier’s spear – draw the viewer in and inspire wondering and imagination.

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Visiting the Knitted Bible could serve as a springboard for follow-up activities as well, in schools, or church children’s/mixed age groups, such as:

  • Make your own 3-d versions of Bible stories and display them alongside the knitted ones.
  • Choose a character from one of the scenes and write the story from their point of view.
  • Put together an assembly, or a presentation to the congregation, about your visit and/or one of the stories.

Here are some more photos. Maybe you’ll be inspired and create a knitted Bible – or at least a few scenes – of your own!

HEBREW SCRIPTURES:

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LIFE OF JESUS:

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I love the way the Holy Spirit is, by necessity of the medium, just sitting on Jesus’s head here.

 

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