The Work Ahead

All this week I have been bookmarking articles and resources that have appeared on my news feeds and social media. I wanted to share a curated list of materials that Christian educators and families can use as we attempt to move forward in constructive ways following the neo-nazi and white supremacist violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, August 11, 2017.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry released a video message this afternoon to respond to the continuing rhetoric, violence, and outrage that continues to fester. He asks, “Where do we go from here?” Do we feed chaos or do we build community? He acknowledges the work that is ahead of us, but reminds us that we do have a way – and The Way is to follow Jesus. That is the work that remains ahead of us.

 

So, I am called to return to my liturgical tradition to see what resources might inform our current times, knowing that there is more to be done than reading a book or teaching a Sunday School lesson. Continue reading The Work Ahead

Program Year Countdown Resources

I can always tell when mid-August hits. The peepers are loud outside my windows at night and in the morning my in-box is full of queries: How do I access my curriculum subscription? Do you have a teacher commissioning service? I can’t find your planning calendar. What do you recommend for first communion instruction (with the caveat – “I know, but the parents were raised Catholic.”). The same questions appear year after year and I’ve tried to curate many of those answers within this site.

So here are some links (or documents) in one place to help finalize all those last-minute details as you prepare (or have already begun) to start your Christian education program year. Continue reading Program Year Countdown Resources

Godly Play: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

A long time ago (early 90’s in Indianapolis?) I heard my first Godly Play story. I was sitting on the floor in a circle with others, listening to Jerome Berryman tell the Parable of the Good Shepherd. It changed my way of sharing the biblical story with children, as well as youth and adults. Since then, I’ve attended (and organized) numerous trainings and workshops to dig deeper and sharpen my skills. And while I don’t have a Godly Play room in which to practice, I have many of the artifacts carefully stored in large containers in my basement to be at the ready whenever called upon to tell as story with the children (or in a sermon) at my home congregation. (You can view my telling of the Faces of Easter here).

Most recently, I’ve been shepherding the revisions and expansions to The Complete Guide to Godly Play (Volumes 2, 3, and 4 thus far) as an editor with Church Publishing. It’s a privilege to work with the leadership of the Godly Play Foundation in providing these updated books and stories. The revisions include new stories (Volume 2: The Holy Bible; Volume 3: Side-by-Side Parable and Making Silence; Volume 4: Saul Changes), many new illustrations, and updated language to all the stories to reflect feedback from Godly Play trainers and storytellers. Continue reading Godly Play: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Jacob’s Ladder

As a child I recall singing “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” in Sunday School. It was a story that I remember reading in my own Bible, trying to imagine how someone could sleep while their head rested on a rock – no wonder they had wild dreams!

In listening to the reading of Genesis 28:10-19a this morning at Eucharist,  I was struck by the importance of place in which Jacob encountered God. And this wasn’t going to be the last place God interrupted Jacob’s sleep (in the coming weeks we’ll hear more about Jacob, including his wrestling with an angel during another fitful night without sleep). Jacob has many miles to go before he can truly sleep (taking liberties with Robert Frost).

But what about place? In the stories of Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah, each time they have an encounter with God, they mark each place with an altar of stones. Jacob does this same action, using his stone pillow as base for the altar. In all of the travels of God’s people in our Hebrew Scriptures, so many “mark the place” where they encounter God. Perhaps as a way to acknowledge the encounter with something tangible besides a memory, or perhaps as a landmark for whomever may come that way to know that something special happened there. So special that someone needed to “mark” it. Continue reading Jacob’s Ladder

The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell

As many of you know, I have spent a good deal of my ministry in a variety of settings researching, writing, and advocating for (or against) the rite of Confirmation. It has not that I have been opposed to this sacramental rite in which many have called a “sacrament in search of a meaning,” but that I have been critical of how we (in The Episcopal Church specifically) have been preparing teenagers (and even adults) in making that reaffirmation of their baptismal promises.

When working with congregations and their youth preparing for confirmation, it had been my experience that a majority of the young people were less than enthusiastic about meeting on a regular basis for “preparation” and many were only present because their parents “made them come.” And after receiving the laying-on-of-hands by a bishop, these same young people rarely came back, having finished their formation and requirements to be a “Christian.” And those faith statements that often began with, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe we are supposed to be good people”: The whole moralistic therapeutic deism piece explained in the research of Christian Smith. Isn’t Confirmation supposed to be one’s reaffirmation in the belief that Christ is their Lord and Savior and they will follow him as a disciple for the rest of their life? A tough statement that may not be so developmentally appropriate for a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. Continue reading The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell