Thursday, April 26, 2012

Liturgy of Light 2012

We celebrated the Liturgy of Light with all three atria last Sunday. It was a lovely morning! You can read about this celebration in a previous post. One dimension I particularly enjoyed this year was seeing children grow into new roles in the celebration. It was great to have children new to the atrium applying the wax to our candle, and older children being leaders and readers in the celebration. It is such a joy to be a part of the children's growth over their years in atrium!

I wasn't able to take many pictures, but here are a few for you to enjoy!

Our newly decorated paschal candle and the individual candles
that each of us held as we "received the Light of Christ."

Ready for the feast!

Thank you parents for bringing food for our feast! It was enjoyed by all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Congratulations to the four young people who participated in the Rite 13 Celebration on Sunday! It was a moving ceremony celebrating a wonderful group of young adults! Thank you also to Rite 13 teachers Justin and Mischelle (pictured on either end of the youth above) for teaching our youth these past two years!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rite 13 Celebration

Join us tomorrow at the 10:30 am service as we celebrate the Rite 13 Ceremony with four of our youth. Very loosely based on the Bar and Bat Mitzvah, the ceremony allows us to acknowledge publicly that the role these young people play in our faith community is changing. During the ceremony we will pledge to assist our youth in this transition to adulthood and offer our support to their parents. Be with us as we celebrate with these amazing teens and pray for them in the journey ahead!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Liturgy of Light This Sunday!

This Sunday we will celebrate the Liturgy of Light with the children in the Good Shepherd and True Vine Atria. I love this special day and am happy that it always comes a week or two into the Easter season. After all the fun of the dresses and candy are forgotten, we gather to celebrate the deeper joy of Easter with the children. I have copied a post from last year describing the celebration below, so read on to learn what we will be doing! 

On Sunday, we will celebrate 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!

Click here to see pictures from last year's celebration.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Try This! Easter Garden

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The Cross
The Tomb on Good Friday
The Empty Tomb

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

My daughter and I made this Easter Garden on Holy Saturday. I'd planned to start much earlier in Lent but always seem to leave these things to the last minute! It is lovely to have around and a great reminder of the season. I've tried lighting tea light candles along the "path" in the evening which is beautiful! It feels a bit too big for the kitchen table, but I think I'll keep it there for now, and try to to find another place for the weeks ahead.

I read about Easter Gardens at several beautiful blogs, including A Holy Experience and St Theophan Academy. I made the butterfly with directions from Flame: Creative Children's Ministry. The plants came from Home Depot and the pot from Target. My daughter and I made the cross from sticks and the tomb from aluminum foil covered in sculpey. It was easy to make and fun to do! Try it! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Alleluia is back!
It was busy this morning, but I managed to catch a few photos of the Church and the Easter Egg Hunt and am posting them here for you to enjoy! 

Happy Easter to you and yours! 
May God bless you this Easter and always!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Before The Triduum

As we head into the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) I have to laugh at the table in my office. I have a habit of putting everything that is prepared and ready on my table so I'll have it when I need it. Baskets full of ribbon for decorating our Easter banner, bells for ringing at our Easter celebrations and Easter booklets for coloring, three hundred stuffed eggs and little bags for holding them all stand at the ready! I also have the bulletins and songs sheets for our Maundy Thursday Service for Families copied and ready to go. The table can't take much more!

My work is a mix of silly and Sacred during these busy Holy days. I spend more time than I care to admit wondering "How many pieces of candy are in this bag, and will they all fit in the eggs?!" This year my egg/banner/coloring book work has felt a bit like preparing a party for dear friends, and I can't wait to see the children's faces on Easter morning!

Church offers plenty of opportunity to encounter the Sacred this week! In my work I ponder "What are the most essential elements of Maundy Thursday for our children?" I consider each moment of the service wondering, "Can a child do this?" As a member of the Christ Church community, I treasure the opportunity to participate in our Holy Week services each day. I am so grateful to Rev. Peter for crafting our services and the entire week with such care.

Maundy Thursday is tomorrow, and we will gather for our Maundy Thursday Family Service at 5:30 pm in the Chapel. This may be my favorite service of the year, and if you are local I sure hope to see you there!

Many blessings to you and yours in the holy days ahead!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week with Children

As we make our way through Holy Week, I thought I would repost some great advice from last year on talking about the events of Good Friday and Easter with 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!