Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Joyful Morning!

It was a joyful morning at Christ Church! Today we welcomed our Bishop, the Right Reverend Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., to our parish as our preacher and celebrant! Thirteen parishioners confirmed or reaffirmed their faith, or were received into the Episcopal Church.  Among the Confirmation candidates were four much loved young people who have been members of our parish for most of their lives.  Can you figure out who is who from the photos above?

It was a wonderful morning! Congratulations and many blessings to all thirteen* parishioners who renewed their commitment to Christ today! 

* My apologies to the three parishioners not pictured in the photo above!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Paschal Candle in our Church

In my last post, I talked a bit about the symbols from the paschal candle that we decorate in the atrium as a part of our Liturgy of Light Celebration. I mentioned that this candle is quite a bit different than the one we see in Church. My blogging friend Storyteller asked about the Church's candle and I thought I would include a few photos of it here.

Our candle was painted by a former priest of the parish and is oil filled and reusable. The paschal candle has a cross in the center without the year, a thistle above (symbol of the suffering of Christ) and flames below (symbol of the light of Christ and of the Holy Spirit).

In the atrium, our desire is always to point toward our practice in Church as a way of enabling children to fully participate in our worship and in the Christian life. Thus, it would probably be more appropriate for us to decorate our paschal candle in the atrium as our Church candle is decorated. However, I love the traditional design and words so much and find that they speak so powerfully to the children that I haven't had the heart to adapt them. 

So for now, a little explanation is sometimes necessary when the children see the paschal candle in the Sanctuary. Parents and Caregivers - feel free to comment upon or ask about the differences between the candles when you are sitting with your children in Church!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Paschal Candle

The paschal candle is a symbol of the Risen Christ which speaks very powerfully to children. In Church, the paschal candle is placed on its stand and blessed in the sanctuary during the Easter Vigil each year and it remains throughout the fifty days of the Easter season. The paschal candle is also present for baptisms and funerals, which I think is quite beautiful.

Isn't the paschal candle from our atrium lovely? It looks a bit different than the paschal candle which we have in Church so I thought I'd tell you about it.

Before we begin the Liturgy of Light Celebration in the atrium, we show the design of our Easter candle to the children, beginning with the cross in the center. We teach the children the names of the the two gold symbols on the candle - the alpha and the omega - which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Together they remind us that God is the beginning and the end. We also place the numbers for the current year on the candle to remind us that God is present with us today. I love the words that we say with the children while they press the wax pieces onto the candle. Here they are for you to enjoy.

Christ, Yesterday and today (place the vertical piece of the cross)
The beginning and the end (place the horizontal piece of the cross)
The Alpha (place the A)
And the Omega (place the Ω)
All time belongs to God (place the 2)
And all the ages (place the 0)
To God be glory and power (place the 1)
Throughout every age forever (place the 1)

In the Good Shepherd Atrium children can prepare a paschal candle as we do in the celebration, using a candle and pieces made of felt. Often an adult or another child will repeat the words above as the child prepares the candle. It is always a popular work with the children in the weeks after the celebration. Children also like to draw pictures of the paschal candle throughout the Easter season.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Practical Life Exercises for the Easter Season!

Here is a quick look at the new practical life works in the Good Shepherd Atrium this Easter! To learn more about why we do practical life in the atrium, read Why Practical Life?

A listening exercise - there are six sets of eggs (one blue and one yellow per set) and each set makes a distinct sound. The sounds come from the things we've put inside the eggs (such as rice, beans, a paper clip, rock etc.). Children listen and compare the sounds to find the matches and place them in the egg carton. I saw this great idea on Living Montessori Now.

A squeezing exercise. Children use the pitcher to pour water into the bowl and add the sponges to the water. Then they use the tea bag squeezer to squeeze the water out of each sponge and return it to the shell-shaped dish. After removing all of the sponges, children empty the water.

Using an eye dropper - Children fill the small pads on the soap holder using the eye dropper. When they are finished they use the dropper to remove the water and put it back into the bottle.

Nuts and bolts - Children match and attach the proper nut to the proper bolt on the gray mat, then return the nuts and bolts to their containers. We actually only put out three sets of nuts and bolts to begin this work. We will add the additional ones in a week or so to make the work more difficult.

A spooning exercise - Children use a small ladle to fill the butterfly with translucent marbles, then return the marbles to the pink dish. The butterfly is pretty, isn't it?

Children sort the flowers and use tweezers to place them into this piece of packaging I found along the way. The holes on the top row have a colored dot in them to indicate which color belongs in that row. When finished children return the flowers to the silver dish.

I love practical life!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Making Connections: Easter

The Empty Tomb material from the True Vine Atrium.
A child made a wonderful connection last Sunday that I have been thinking a lot about. As we were preparing for the Liturgy of Light we had a little conversation about the scripture reading for our celebration. I initially thought it was Matthew's account of the Resurrection and told the children that this was the version which included the guards, who for fear of the angel "shook and became like dead men." (Matt 28:4)**

Several children were marveling at the fact that soldiers are supposed to be brave and yet they passed out when faced with the angel. Meanwhile, the women who came to prepare Jesus for burial didn't! I wondered out loud why that might have been. In response, a third grader said she thought that it must have been because the women were closer to God. Isn't that lovely?

 **We use this scriptural account of the Resurrection in the True Vine Atrium and the children love it, but we actually use a different account for the celebration.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Photos from the Liturgy of Light

My last post described a bit about the Liturgy of Light Celebration from the atrium last Sunday. Here are some photos, taken by parishioner Kimberly Shepherd of Kat's Eye on Life, for you to enjoy!

Gathering in the hall to begin our celebration.

The children apply the wax decorations to the paschal candle.

The procession following our paschal candle to the atrium.

"The Light of Christ." "Thanks be to God!"
The paschal candle.

"Receive the light of Christ."

Singing and praying with our candles.

This Little Light of Mine!

Everyone enjoys a good Feast! Thank you for bringing the food!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Liturgy of Light Celebration

On Sunday, we celebrated Easter with the Liturgy of Light in the atrium. The image of Jesus as the light is an ancient one, and resonates deeply with the children. Over the years, catechists observing children in the atrium found this image recurring in the children's prayer, conversation, and art work. With the Liturgy of Light, we celebrate the light and life of the risen Christ, which is more powerful than death, and which we all share by virtue of our baptism.

This liturgy is based upon my favorite service of the year - the Easter Vigil. We gather with the children in a darkened hallway, where we decorate the paschal candle with pieces of wax and light it for the first time. Then we process behind the candle into the atrium, stopping to chant three times along the way.

In the atrium, I sing a short section of the "Exultet," a song of praise and blessing over the paschal candle. A child reads the scriptural account of the resurrection for us. Then each person is handed a small candle, lit from the paschal candle, with the words, "receive the light of Christ." We hold the candles on our laps for a short time of prayer and singing, then place them around the paschal candle. Our celebration ends with a rousing rendition of "This Little Light of Mine" and a feast!

Check back soon for more photos of our Liturgy of Light Celebration