Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
I quoted those words in an introduction more than four years ago as I garnered a collection of essays and prayers and put together an action guide for Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: Challenging the Epidemic of Gun Violence (Morehouse, 2015). At the time, people were still reeling from the horrific events of December 14, 2012. Since then, the violence has not ceased. A week ago, it occurred again, this time in a high school in Florida. Friends and colleagues have been sharing resources yet again, and the blogosphere has been filled with thoughtful posts filled with anger, condemnation, and calls for action.
I have been silent, feeling helpless and frozen. I can pray. I can donate funds to those who fight the gun lobby. I am thankful that my senators and representatives on both the state and national level are constant advocates for gun control. I’m trained as an educator. Both of my children are teachers in public schools. My home has always been a gun-free zone. I expect our schools (and churches) to be so also. Guns don’t protect people. People do. Continue reading Rachel is Still Weeping→
Liturgy is formation. We learn how to pray by praying. We learn Bible stories by hearing and reading them. We learn about community by worshiping together. We learn the traditions of the Church by being present as they are celebrated. We learn the rhythms of the Christian year by watching the “colors” change with the liturgical seasons and the prayers that set the tone of the season.
Soon we will begin a new (secular) year. We already began a new (sacred) year several weeks ago on the First Sunday of Advent. How do we help all ages live into sacred time instead of the secular patterns that we follow (and is forced upon us) in the culture in which we live?
We practice. We remember. We slow down. And perhaps we focus on what we do on Sundays when we are gathered for worship and education – forming ourselves into Christians who are of this world but strive for more.
Every week (toward the beginning) I look ahead to what the coming Sunday will bring. What lessons will I be hearing in church? What is the season and its themes? Are there ways to make them relevant to children, youth, and adults – each in an age appropriate way? Hopefully during preaching and the “education hour” there is time to put things in context. Hopefully there is a reason the lesson or story you are sharing in Church School is connected to the season or the Gospel. You don’t need to be using a lectionary-based curriculum (although that helps), but the biblical stories we share need to make a connection to where we are in God’s world (and “time”) today. And that takes planning. Continue reading A Christian Educator’s Guide to Liturgical Planning→
The first Sunday of Advent typically occurs the weekend after Thanksgiving – not true for 2017. This year it was Christ the King, or the last Sunday after the Epiphany, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which seem to each last a week now). So the Christmas rush to shop seems to have preempted the time to slow down, pause, and prepare for this season of waiting and hope. But perhaps, all the shopping will be complete and we can truly settle in for a reflective Advent.
As Advent 1 (December 3rd) approaches find a way to set aside some time each day to reflect upon this holy season. Whether your practice is a solitary one or one to do with some faithful partners, here are some ideas that have crossed my desk these past few weeks: Continue reading Advent is Coming→
To be an Episcopalian is one way of being a Christian. And being an Episcopalian is rooted in an identity and heritage based in the Book of Common Prayer. It is a “manual” for Episcopal worship, and if one visits any Episcopal church for worship, one could expect to participate in a liturgy found in that red book in the pew –– whether it is a Eucharist, Morning Prayer, baptism, or funeral. Many still call this book the “new” prayer book, but it has been around since 1979 (and even earlier in a variety of trial texts).
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is very clear with regards to the purpose of education and formation. In fact, it’s purpose is directly prayed for every Sunday during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is found in all of the post-communion prayers, as well as the catechism section on ministry. It is found in the promises we make every time our worship includes a baptism. We pray, as we believe, the each baptized member –– no matter what age or stage –– it called to engage in an active ministry and mission, to be “sent out to do the work God has given us to do.” That calling is the purpose of education and formation. Continue reading Liturgy as Formation→
I’m always encouraging “my” authors to promote their books on their blogs and social media. Well, I need to take my own advice – so I’m pleased to share that the first book in a new series that I have been working on has just been published! All books are available at Church Publishing Incorporated as well as Amazon – and I’d love you to write a review on this page!
“The events and seasons of the church year are powerful faith forming experiences for all ages in the congregation and for families at home. Faithful Celebrations helps churches and families make these events central to their faith life with flexible ideas and activities to celebrate the seasons. Churches can use Faithful Celebrations to gather families and all the generations to learn, pray, and celebrate each season, and to equip families to celebrate the seasons at home. This resource is a great way to introduce or enhance family-centered and intergenerational experiences at church.” ––John Roberto, Author, Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century
Faithful Celebrations is a series of five books for families and congregations to “Make Time for God” at various times of the year. With a combination of sacred and secular holidays and seasons covered, each book offers something for all ages to do (mostly) together. From recipes and craft projects, to prayers and liturgies with Bible stories, each “chapter” focuses on a particular event such as Advent, All Hallow’s Eve, or Valentine’s Day. The ideas can be put together for an intergenerational all-church event, a family celebration, or a block-party in your neighborhood. Continue reading Faithful Celebrations: At Church, Home, or School→