Tag Archives: books

Springtime is for . . . Confirmation (among other things)

Alleluia! He is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

confirmationFor many congregations, the time is drawing near when the bishop will make his or her annual visitation to confirm all those young people who have been preparing for confirmation. Classes were probably held during the Lenten season (or hopefully have been since September), so things are winding up. Perhaps those who were baptized at the Easter Vigil will be presented for confirmation, but most likely youth are finishing up their classes, writing their faith statements or letters to their bishop, and parents are planning the party to be held after the big event.

The Sunday after the rite of Confirmation is celebrated, most of those newly confirmed will be sleeping in, as well as their parents and siblings. The Sunday after a confirmation is often like the Sunday after Easter. “Low Sunday” in church-speak. Hopefully, they will be back in a few weeks, but as is the case in so many families, confirmation is one of those rituals that brings parents back to church to have their child “get done.” And for confirmation, that will mean they’ve been “signed, sealed, and delivered” into adulthood. Their rite of passage. Their graduation from faith formation. The parental responsibility of “bringing up their child in the Christian faith” has been accomplished.

For those who know me personally, you know I’m pretty passionate about this topic. Who (and how) we prepare youth for confirmation, and how we connect with parents about their role in this “mature decision” and lifelong commitment, is something I believe we (the Church = clergy, educators, vestries, parents, congregations) need to address. We need to have conversations about our own experiences and what we believe the role confirmation has in the life of today’s teens as well as what it means to a congregation. If we had a better understanding of why we feel the way we do about confirmation, I believe we would be “doing it” differently.

SignedSealedDeliveredI felt so strongly about this, I invited a group of colleagues in the Episcopal Church to contribute to a book that was recently published. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century offers a historical perspective of how this rite came to be (liturgically, sacramentally, and theologically), essays from bishops, priests, scholars, and Christian formation leaders, and a discussion guide for small groups and congregations to share their own theology of confirmation.

I invite you to read the book (via print or for your e-reader). Join in the conversation – here or on the book’s Facebook page. In the coming week’s I’ll be posting some reactions and resources.

What is YOUR theology of confirmation?

What Will the New Year Bring?

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions.

Partly because I’m not very good at following through with them. Yes, I always say I will lose weight, exercise more or keep up with the laundry and cleaning better. Today I’ve noticed an extra number of joggers on the roads and many folks posting what their resolutions are going to be on Facebook. And I’ve learned there is a App to make sure you stay on track with your resolution.

I’m wondering if I should resolve to post more regularly here. That’s a tough one; I already blog daily at Building Faith and weekly at The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education. With editing manuscripts and writing educational program materials, that’s a lot of writing. So, I’ll probably pass on this as a resolution.

However, this afternoon I cleaned up my office. AKA moving around file folders, straightening up books-to-be-read stacks, and filing receipts and clips I’ve torn out of magazines for some future reference. I rediscovered a number of books that I’ve picked up on my travels. I’m a sucker for book stores at conferences. I’ve started a few, but got sidetracked with other reading material. And my Kindle often takes precedence if I’m traveling (or looking for mindless entertainment).

In looking back at 2011, I’ve read plenty of books. Lots are work-related (I wrote the study guide for several*, so I really did read these) and definitely have a theme to them.

  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven and Hell by Rob Bell
  • Christian Formation 2020 by John Roberto
  • Formational Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith
  • Child by Child: Supporting Children with Learning Differences and Their Families by Susan Richardson (as editor)
  • Conversations with Scripture: Daniel by Edmund Desueza and Judith Jones*
  • Conversations with Scripture: Judges by Roy Heller*
  • Tweet if you ♥Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation by Elizabeth Drescher
  • What Episcopalians Believe: An Introduction by Samuel Wells*
And some (fewer than I’d wish) were for pleasure:

So what’s on the list for 2012? Guess I should tackle that stack in my office:

Hmmmm . . . I sense a theme. Could 2012 be telling me something? What book would you recommend I add to my list?

Come Away With Me

I always enjoy being with Christian educators. They are a species that is passionate about storytelling, creativity and thinking outside-of-the-box. They are (usually) open to new ideas and trying on new things.

This August I was privileged to lead some reflections at the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina’s annual spiritual retreat for those involved in Christian formation. Volunteer teachers, staff educators and clergy gathered at St. Francis Springs Retreat Center, a beautiful retreat center in the midst of nature in north central North Carolina. We focused on Mark Bozzuti-Jones’ wonderful book of inspiration and reflection, Informed by Faith: A Spiritual Handbook for Christian Educators and Parents.

The mission of teachers is to talk about God’s activities in the world, to study the Bible, to be transformed by the Bible, and to show ways in which the Bible and the Christian life bring decisive action to bear on the events of our lives. In creation God teaches us much about who God is and how God acts. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones (Informed by Faith. Boston: Cowley Publications, 2004).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our day was marked with shared meals, prayer, reflections, conversation and time to just “be.” There were areas for dabbling in creative activities and meditation – coloring mandalas, walking a labyrinth (on a canvas and with one’s finger), making all sorts of prayer beads and ropes, praying in color, reflecting on stones, water, shells and feathers. A time for walking in the woods to discover the variety of mushroom all within a short distance from each other.  To be fully human in God’s creation.

We were fed by stories of each other’s ministries as well as wonderfully prepared meals and the Eucharist. We danced. We sang. We shared resources and ideas. Hospitality abounded.  All in 24 hours.

So many of us educators are a “Martha” in need of time to be “Mary.” How might you invite others in your congregation, diocese, or synod to provide such a retreat for educators?

The Summer Book List

What are you reading this summer?

The dog days of summer were always my favorite times to build up a stack of books that I could work through while sitting on the beach or lounging on my deck. Usually something from the NY Times best-sellers list was included, the latest Sue Grafton alphabet mystery (always a quick, fun read) or some historical fiction (my favorite genre).

Since I took my vacation in May, I did my beach reading then. Those ‘take me away’ books seem so far away from me now. I’m finding that I’m reading ‘professional’ books these hot summer nights – ones I have been asked to review or ones I really felt I’d be missing out on if I let another season pass by.

  • The Case for God by Karen Armstrong (another excellent Armstrong book, but space yourself with a fun one in between chapters).
  • The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Harry Potter by John Killinger (I had to read this one to write a review. If you’re a Potter fan and want to know all the signs of Harry as a Christ-like figure, you’ll like this. Didn’t impress me much with anything new.)
  • Conversations with Scripture: Acts of the Apostles by Chuck Roberston (I wrote the study guide – book is due out this fall)
  • Informed by Faith: A Spiritual Handbook for Christian Educators and Parents by Mark Bozzuti-Jones (A re-read as I am leading a retreat in North Carolina in August and the Diocese of North Carolina has commended this book to all their Christian educators.)

Sitting on my nightstand now is Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit by Krista Tippett (I participated in the writing of session plans for a new curriculum based on her radio program, Speaking of Faith for Small Groups to come out this August from Morehouse Education Resources, so have gotten into the whole science and religion thing).

All year ’round I get questions from Christian educators about what my ‘top ten’ books are for those in formation ministries. The list is ever-changing and always growing. So . . . I’ve decided to add a tab on this blog to provide a listing of my recommended resources. Check it out and come back often as I’ll be adding as I discover new resources and continually post new bibliographies.

Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall.

A good companion is always a good book!