Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Joy!

Here are a few pictures from Easter morning at Christ Church. What a wonderful, spirit-filled day!

The word "Alleluia" that the children decorated and "buried"
before Lent made a dramatic reappearance!

Our wonderful Choir and musicians getting ready!
Can you find the Paschal Candle and the Baptismal Font in this picture?

Preparing for communion. There is the Pascal Candle on the left!

After the service, we had an Egg Hunt in the Sanctuary.
It was too wet to have it on the lawn this year.

The Easter Bunny made an appearance at
our Egg Hunt after Church!
Thanks Easter Bunny!

Happy Hunters!

This Sunday, May 1st, we will celebrate Easter in the atrium with the "Liturgy of Light." Check back soon to learn more about this beautiful celebration, which is based upon the Easter Vigil.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

More photos to come. In the meantime,
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love One Another

Little children, I am with you only a little longer...I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

John 13:33a, 34

Photos from our Maundy Thursday Service for Families

Special thanks to parishioner Kimberly Shepherd,
 of Kats Eye on Life, for these lovely photos!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Holy Week with Young Children

Today I am so happy to share a very helpful article reposted from the blog "So Who's Hosanna Anyway?" Confessions of a Christian Educator and Mother, by Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor. 

Thinking Ahead to Holy Week
  by Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor

It is hard to believe that Palm Sunday is almost here (April 17th). And if Palm Sunday is almost here, then Holy Week isn’t far behind! Parents, especially those of young children, are often confused as to how best handle the crucifixion as we tell the story of the Easter miracle.

The events of Jesus' death are shocking and violent, but we cannot fully live into Easter if we have not experienced Jesus' death. There are ways to approach this with children that make it easier to share the whole story. Here are some of the things I have learned in twenty-five years as an educator and a parent:

1. Children - even very young ones - know that bad things happen. The Easter message is that good always triumphs over evil - even if it doesn't seem to at the moment. This is a message children can hear and understand.

2. When you talk about the crucifixion, always continue immediately with the Resurrection. I have found the following kinds of language helpful: "Jesus loved people so much that some people were scared by it and they put Jesus to death on a cross. But love is so strong, that not even death can destroy it, so God raised Jesus from the dead.”

3. If your children are visual learner, you may only want to share the story in words - the shorter the better. Use art that reveals the empty tomb instead of Jesus on the Cross as you tell the story.

4. Some children are curious about how crucifixion actually kills. They will ask questions such as "Did it hurt?" ("Yes"), "How does crucifixion kill someone?" ("Slow suffocation"). You do not need to dwell on the gore, but an honest answer that is short and to the point is helpful to children and allows you to move on to the resurrection.

5. Other children worry that Jesus was alone. He wasn't - his mother and the Beloved Disciple were there, along with other women. Two other men were crucified with him. And most importantly, God was with Jesus.

Experiencing the events of Holy Week and Easter can be a powerful way for children to share in the defining moment of our Christian faith while being held in a safe and familiar environment. The events of Holy Week are all great places for embodied learning – we shout and parade with Jesus on Palm Sunday, have our feet washed, taste bread and wine, strip the altar and raise the joyous “Alleluias” on Easter Day. With careful planning, parents can help children experience the mystery and wonder of both Holy Week and Easter.

Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor is the Director of Christian Education at Sudbury United Methodist Church, in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The mother of two (22 and 11), and step-mother of one (16), she has been a professional Christian educator for the past 22 years. She blogs at “So Who’s Hosanna Anyway?" and is a contributor to the online Christian Education Community Building Faith
Thanks so much Dr. Elizabeth for sharing your wisdom with us on Thoughts from the Sheepfold!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Photos from our Last Supper Celebration

Yesterday I posted a description of the Last Supper Celebration. Here are a few photos taken after the celebration ended, while we polished off the Matzo and Juice! We had a great morning!

The Narrator with John and Jesus
John, Jesus, and Peter

It was such a beautiful day, we walked around outside the
 building to the front doors to join our families in Church!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Last Supper Celebration

On Sunday we will have our Last Supper Celebration.  I look forward to this special day every year. As a group we are invited to experience the Last Supper with Jesus, just as his followers did. The children always seem to participate in this celebration with peace and joy, and it is a pleasure to be a part of it.

The Cenacle or Last Supper material helps to prepare the children for this celebration. We have recently presented it (or re-presented it) to everyone and many have chosen to work with it individually during atrium in the past few weeks. Receiving communion week after week is also wonderful preparation for the children for this celebration!

The celebration itself is fairly simple and is child-led. Before the celebration begins, each person is given a name tag with the name and a short description of one of Jesus' followers. One child takes on the role of Jesus. With a few children reading the lines and performing the actions of Jesus, Peter, and John, and the rest of us participating as Jesus' followers, we reenact the great moments of the Last Supper using the scripture reading from the Cenacle material. We also remember Jesus' death and resurrection. In the end, we sit together eating matzo, drinking grape juice, and singing some of our favorite atrium songs.

It isn't easy to snap a picture during a celebration, but I'll try to take one at some point on Sunday to share with you!

Save the Date: Our Family Maundy Thursday Service will be on April 21st at 5:30 pm in the Chapel. This is one of my favorite services of the year, in part because it draws upon the Last Supper Celebration for its inspiration, and because it resonates so well with the children. I hope to see you and your family there!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The City of Jerusalem

The cross and the tomb in the True Vine Atrium.

Children in both the Good Shepherd and True Vine Atria worked with the City of Jerusalem material last Sunday. This is an amazing work that allows us to walk along side Jesus through his last days, his death and his resurrection. Children come to understand that Jerusalem was a real city, and become familiar with its features. They also begin to appreciate that Jesus spent some of the most important moments of his life in Jerusalem.

As I've worked with this material over the years and with children of different ages, I've come to appreciate it so much. In a very gentle way, without becoming overly emotional, this material takes children to the heart of our faith-- through the Last Supper and Jesus' death to the joy and hope that is the resurrection.

This is our City of Jerusalem material from the Good Shepherd Atrium for 3-6 year olds. You can see there is a topographical map of the city on the left and a control on the right. Children move the walls and buildings from the map to the control as they identify and reflect upon them. Younger children learn the names and locations of some of the important places we remember during Holy Week, such as the Cenacle (where the disciples gathered for the Last Supper), the Mount of Olives, Herod's Palace, and Mt. Calvary.

This is the material from the True Vine Atrium for 6-9 year olds. The pieces on the map are smaller, and more detail has been added to the city. The presentation with the children is also more detailed and draws on their knowledge of Jesus' last days.

This year in the True Vine Atrium I realized how much the children have learned from working with this material and how much they love it. Several "big questions" arose, such as "Why didn't God keep Jesus from dying?" with the children themselves offering their thoughts and ideas.  It was pretty amazing.

Both of our cities were purchased from wood workers, unfinished. The talented Lynn Winkelman spent countless hours creating these beautiful maps. Needless to say, she became well known in train display making circles! What a gift to the children!

Our Last Supper Celebration is this Sunday! Check back for more about this special event.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meditation Garden Update

We've been away on vacation, but I am back and working on an atrium post which should be on the blog soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share how much I am enjoying our meditation garden this Lent. I've gotten into the practice of praying with my garden every day. 

In the morning, I empty the garden and arrange the sand (with curves or impressions, or by adding some pine cones or greenery to the garden). Then I place a candle in the sand and light it with a prayer remembering that Jesus is our light. 

I've been choosing a stone for each prayer concern or thanksgiving that I wish to focus on. I pray with the stone in my hand, then place it in the garden near the light. I've kept the candle lit all day when I am home working and in the evening, and whenever I want to pray I sit near it and chose another stone. It has been really wonderful to "see" my prayers gathered around the light throughout the day.

Our Atrium and Youth classes are meeting again this Sunday after taking a week off for Spring Break. We'll see you and your family at 9:15 am!