Category Archives: Seasonal Ideas

Intergenerational Taizé

Our Taizé services, held several times a year, have traditionally been attended by adults. For the service scheduled midway through Lent we wanted to make it more of an intergenerational event. How could we make Taizé more experiential while retaining its contemplative nature? How might we introduce Taizé to families with children? How could we tap into scripture with baptismal and Lenten themes paired with the music of Taizé? This and other questions led to our creation of a Taizé Intergenerational Liturgy held on the afternoon of the Third Sunday of Lent at my home parish, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, Connecticut.

Our team (Marissa Rohrbach, rector; Fiona Smith Sutherland, music director; Becky Hudspeth, children’s and youth minister; and myself) created two other events this program year (The Way of Love and Advent) and wanted to build upon those. Then two of us saw a post on Building Faith by Charlotte Preslar entitled “Creating Prayer Bottles” that had been developed as a sensory prayer experience before Lent began. We knew we had found our experiential, contemplative missing element for our Taizé service.

In advance, we ordered our supplies and sorted all the “pieces” in little containers for easy use with little hands and less mess. We set up a simple focal point of tables of various sizes and heights, with chairs surrounding them on all sides with ample room to move between them all. Around the perimeter of the chairs were six 6-foot tables, while near the entrance the piano and small adult choir and an instrumentalist sat. Battery-powered candles (the ones that looked like they had flickering flames) were scattered on the focal tables and piano. A variety of icons were placed on the tables as well as small terra-cotta pots filled with sand. A large clear glass bowl was filled with water and placed on the center of the largest altar table. Scattered on the floor were tall bottles filled with warm water and a basket of thin, long tapers (candles). Torches (from the sanctuary) stood on either side of the tables and our processional cross was placed in the center back of the room.

Continue reading Intergenerational Taizé

Planning Intergenerational Formation

Four of the volumes of my Faithful Celebration series books.

Many of the formative experiences in life happen when several generations are together. Think about it – when were you fully engaged in learning about Jesus or living out your Baptismal Covenant? Surely it wasn’t when you were alone. Perhaps it was in serving others or immersed in a worship service. Most likely there was more than one generation present. In our society we tend to separate people by age mainly for education and employment. In the recent past, Christian formation programs have made the same separation of generations, but more and more formation educators are offering programs in which adults and children learn together. It is a way to pass on faith – generation to generation. Old learn from young, and young learn from old.

While Sunday mornings may still sadly be the most segregated time in our country (at least for mainline church-goers), it is the most generationally diverse time many of us experience all week. Our worship involved young and old, and every age in-between at worship.

My colleague Eduardo Solomón Rivera recently shared his 7 Steps Toward Intergenerational Discipleship in the Episcopal Church Foundation’s March 2019 newsletter. He shares:

Continue reading Planning Intergenerational Formation

Advent is Coming

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

Faithful Celebrations: At Church, Home, or School

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

Salvation History on a Paschal Candle

The Ascension (hand of God and Omega symbols)The Paschal Candle is a large, white candle used in Western Christianity in such traditions as the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic Churches. Lit during the season of Easter and at special liturgies of Holy Baptism and funerals, “Paschal” comes from Pesach, which is Hebrew meaning “Passover,”  relating to the Paschal mystery of salvation. Dedicated during the Great Vigil of Easter, the Paschal Candle is symbolic of the eternal light of Christ – the Alpha and Omega: the beginning and the end; it symbolizes the eternal light of Christ from the beginning of Creation to the end of time.

Typically these candles are sold with decals and/or wax decorations on them from a variety of church supply companies. They can be very ornate or very simple. In recent years  hollow candle “shells” have become available to fill with oil in order to be used over and over again, not burning down as a traditional beeswax candle might after much use.

Many years ago when I was the Director of Children’s Ministries at my home parish, I asked my daughter and her friend if they wanted to decorate a special Paschal Candle, to replace the church’s previous years’ candle that could no longer be used again.  I gave them carte blanche to design the candle as long as the traditional components were present: the cross with incense points, the date, and the Greek letters  α  (Alpha) and Ω (Omega). I provided the supplies: a blank, white Paschal candle, incense points (taken from the “old” Paschal candle), small sheets of colored beeswax sheets, and a Book of Common Prayer. Continue reading Salvation History on a Paschal Candle