Monday, February 27, 2012

Shrove Tuesday and Prayer Beads

On Shrove Tuesday, we made prayer beads for Lent. Here are a few pictures of the children working. I had a problem with my camera but Jenn was prepared, and kind enough to capture some memories for us. Thank you, Jenn!

What we didn't snap were pictures of the wonderful adults who came over to make prayer beads after the children were finished. I love Christ Church!

In atrium on Sunday some of the children made prayer beads as a work. As we were leaving the True Vine Atrium, I took some pictures of them with their beads just for fun! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Try This! Prayer Beads for Lent

At our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, we made prayer beads to use during Lent. Having a string of beads can be a wonderful way to encourage prayer and can help you grow closer to God in this holy season.

The prayer beads we made have a stationary bead on one end, called the Lord’s Prayer bead. This bead can be a reminder to start your day with the Lord’s Prayer. Our bead chain includes ten movable beads that can be pulled and will stay in place so that you can keep track of anything that you are doing (or not doing!) this Lent. Carry the beads in your pocket and let them remind you throughout the day of your desire to pray, and of God’s desire to be closer to you. At the end of each day, move all the beads away from the Lord’s Prayer bead and let the next day be a new beginning!

Here are some ways that you can use your beads. Pick and choose from these ideas, and find other ways of praying with your beads on your own. (Leave a comment with your ideas below!)

  • Use the beads to keep track of your prayers during the day. Each time you find your beads in your pocket, take them out, move a bead, and say a prayer.  You may like to make a commitment to pray ten times each day. Move a bead each time that you pray. 
  • Choose one specific person or thing to prayer for during the day. Move a bead each time that you pray for that person or thing. Watch how your prayers change over the course of the day.
  • Use the beads to keep track of good deeds that you do in Lent. When you are kind to a friend or family member, when you help a stranger, when you share something with someone in need, move a bead and pray that God will bless the other person and will continue to help you to be a blessing to others.
  • Use the beads to keep track of sacrifices you are making in Lent. For example, if you are giving up gum, move one bead every time you reach for or wish you had a piece of gum, and say a prayer asking God to be your desire and your strength.
  • Use the beads to keep track of any Lenten discipline that you are taking on – such as reading the Bible, or being kind to a sibling. Move a bead each time you do the activity. Pray that God will give you inspiration and strength to do all that you hope to do this Lent.
  • Assign specific prayers, types of prayers, or people you want to pray for to the beads and say your prayers in a row, like a rosary. Check the Book of Common Prayer for prayer ideas.
  • Share a smaller string of beads with your young child, and make a plan with him or her to pray together several times each day. Let the child move a bead each time you pray together. 

May God bless you and may you be a blessing to others this Lent!

Children in atrium will have the chance to make prayer beads as a work this Sunday. If you would like to make a bead chain at home, easy to follow directions for sacrifice beads can be found at The Little Ways. I have adapted these slightly, as I have described and pictured above. Photos from Shrove Tuesday will be coming soon!

****Two wonderful blogging friends of mine, Sheila at Explore and Express, and Storyteller at Wonderful in an Easter kind of Way are collecting links with ideas for preparing for Easter. I am listing this post in their Lenten Link-Up Party. Click here to see all of the great posts they have collected!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday Service Today!

Ash Wednesday 

Service for Families
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
5:30 pm in the Chapel

Lent begins today!  Ash Wednesday is the first day of a forty day period of preparation for the events of Holy Week and Easter.  For the past several years, Rev. Peter and I have been offering a 5:30 pm service specifically for families on Ash Wednesday.  The meaning of Ash Wednesday is a bit difficult to convey to young children. I have found that the penitential tone is not a natural fit for their spirituality.

Rev. Peter and I have collected some wonderful ideas from my fellow Christian Educators and some thoughts of our own to create an Ash Wednesday service which is streamlined and focused on the elements of this holy day which are most vibrant and essential to young children - the imposition of ashes and Holy Communion. I love this service, and look forward to it every year.

One aspect of the service that resonates with the children is the gesture the priest makes with the ashes. Beginning at age four in the atrium, we learn that at Baptism, the priest  makes a small cross with oil on the forehead of the person being baptized, and says "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own for ever."  On Ash Wednesday we see that cross again -- this time made with ashes and oil on all of our foreheads --  and we are reminded that we belong to Jesus.

If you are a local reader, I hope you will join us in the Chapel at Christ Church for our 5:30 pm Ash Wednesday Service for Families today! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Farewell Alleluia!

Today we said goodbye to our old friend "Alleluia." At Christ Church we refrain from using this joyful word during the more solemn and contemplative season of Lent, which begins this week on Ash Wednesday and ends when we gather at the Easter Vigil.

The children decorated the letters of the word "Alleluia" during Christian formation time today. 

During the recessional hymn, the children brought their letters forward so that everyone could see them.

Then Rev. Peter helped us to put them all away.

Farewell Alleluia! We'll see you again at Easter!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


One of my favorite sites from our pilgrimage to Israel was Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Capernuam is mentioned frequently in the Gospels as Jesus' home base and the place where he called several of his disciples from their nets, but it never made much of an impression on me until I was there!

In many of the Biblical sites we visited, ancient and modern buildings dominated the space in a way that made me more aware of the history of the site than of its spiritual significance. 

Capernaum is different. In this little village along the Sea of Galilee, first century ruins are surrounded by water, trees, and sky. Wandering through the grounds, it is easy to believe and appreciate the fact that Jesus was here. 

In Capernaum there are ruins of a beautiful fourth century Temple.

Beneath this temple, and visible from the outside, are the remains of a first century temple. The white stone is from the fourth century, and the grey stone at the base is from the first. This first century temple is most likely the temple that Jesus knew and where he taught!

Inside the temple, the floor is open in one spot to reveal first century remains.

This modern Church is built above the remains of the site that is believed to have been St. Peter's house. 

Underneath the modern Church are the remains of several Churches built on the site over the centuries, including this 5th century Church.

For me, one of the holiest moments of our trip was celebrating Communion with our group under this tree beside the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee at sunrise.
It's amazing traveling the familiar path of the Church Year after a trip to Israel! This Epiphany, my mind keeps returning to the Sea of Galilee. There, more than any other place, I felt a real sense of the presence of  Jesus. The smallness of the region and the rural landscape have left a lasting impression on me.

As you walk along the Sea of Galilee its easy to imagine Jesus walking here too. Along these shores Jesus called simple fishermen to follow him, and they dropped their nets and followed. In nearby fields Jesus taught rural people with metaphors for the kingdom that they understood - growing wheat and baking bread.

Looking to shore from our boat.
In these small communities around the Sea, Jesus found (and was found) by people on the fringes of society and he healed them and restored them to the community. And around this small Sea, news of Jesus' teaching and power traveled from town to town, and the crowds following him were so large that Jesus had to perform miracles just to feed them! 

The trip also brought home a geography lesson I remember learning when studying Mark. Standing along the Sea of Galilee it is easy to imagine Jesus' ministry unfolding among common people in rural places. And it is easy to see the tension building as Jesus strikes out to Jerusalem to face the political and religious leaders who feared him.

The Southern tip of the Sea of Galilee.
In this season of Epiphany as you hear scriptural accounts of Jesus' ministry unfolding, draw to mind these images and your own of this small but beautiful place.