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

Advent Resource for Faith At Home

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While the leaves have been falling and the weather has been turning distinctly autumnal, over here at Diocesan Children’s Ministry Central, we’ve been looking ahead to Advent and Christmas. I’m delighted to say we now have a Faith at Home resource for families to use throughout Advent – why not print it out on Advent Sunday and send a copy home with every family who comes? You could also send it home with toddler group or Messy Church families.

It’s designed to accompany the Red Letter Christians UK Advent meditations on Jesus and Justice – however, both the adult meditations and the family resource stand entirely on their own. You can do both, or either. If you want to sign up to receive the daily meditations for adults, you can do so here.

The resource is designed to be easy to use – you don’t need any unusual or expensive stuff to do the activities. It’s also designed to be inclusive – it doesn’t assume every family is able to donate food or money to charity. Where donating is suggested as an activity, an alternative is provided.

To download, click on link below, then, in the window that pops up, click the arrow on the right side of the bar at the top:

Faith At Home For Advent

Faith at Home take-home

Most church leaders would love for children and their carers to talk about church together – about worship, faith, and their experiences. Often, parents are uncertain how to do this, unsure of whether they “have the answers,” hesitant about how to start a conversation with their children about these topics.outnumbered

And it’s difficult, in most churches, to get a group of parents together to start learning about faith at home, and to build the confidence needed for these conversations.

So I’ve put together a simple take-home “cheat sheet” that can help parents start these discussions. It can be used every week in any church – it’s not tied to a particular worship style, and the questions are flexible enough to be used around the year. They are open-ended, and stress that there’s no right or wrong answers. And, crucially, the idea is that children and adults respond to these questions. So the discussion is a mutual one; it’s not children answering questions for the adults, but rather some conversation starters to get children and their parents or carers sharing together about their experiences in worship.

You can download it here: Take Home Sheet for Parents and Carers (Word)

Take Home Sheet for Parents and Carers (PDF)