This summer I’ve been living in community with the 12 “permanent” (read: summer-long) staff members at Camp Bratton-Green, the camp of the Diocese of Mississippi. I never went to camp as a kid and had no real experience with college students—other than being one a couple of decades ago—so I was a little nervous about how my 10-week stint as the chaplain to the group might go. Despite myself, I worried about whether they would like me, whether they would be willing to talk to me about their lives. If not, I knew it could be a long summer for both them and me, since we’d be seeing a lot of one another.
On Independence Day we consider broad social and political freedoms in America. But the Bible has a specific view of freedom that will help us as Americans.
Christians beg to differ. And so it is: when we use our bodies in worship, we make a theological claim. Flesh can be good! Of course, in this world we will always fall short (sin), but as we offer our bodies in service to God, we get a glimpse of God's ultimate intention. And that intention is good! So... how about sign language? The good folks at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco have passed on to us their resources for using sign American language during traditional Episcopal worship services.
This past Pentecost Sunday, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Kasson, MN, celebrated a Blessing of the Bikes. After the recessional hymn we followed the Cross outside to the front of the church, where we gathered for a prayer together before blessing the riders and their bikes. After another prayer together the riders started up their bikes and revved the engines – the sound was like church bells.
“Father forgive them, for they do not what they are doing.” These words were spoken by Jesus from the cross, where, in this movie, Roman guards and a few Jewish on-lookers stood. I am not a Roman soldier or a Jew who asked for Jesus to be crucified. But I know I am an oppressor when I put other people down, when I hurt them physically, emotionally, or spiritually. We are, each of us, oppressors, when we don’t treat other human beings with respect, dignity, and a sense of belonging. We are the oppressors who need God’s forgiveness.
By folding the palms into crosses, we underscore this drastic reversal, and the fickle human nature which brought it about. We recall how quickly triumph gave way to shame and suffering. This is a powerful way to enter Holy Week, and if you have never made a palm cross, here is our video to show you how. This is a high definition, easy to see, and easy to follow tutorial featuring our own Charlotte Greeson. Enjoy and share!
The Painting Table is a book by Roger Hutchison, which has inspired workshops during Lent and other seasons. Here he describes how he used his practice of painting with the spirit and your fingers to create a Lenten series.
Like many churches, we have a tradition of an Easter egg hunt for children. It's one of those things that we just always do, though no one knows when it started. Also like most churches, our attendance doubles on Easter morning, and we have many folks joining us for the first time, but for some reason we cancel Sunday School, and all we show visitors about our church is an egg hunt, which does nothing to tell the Christian story. So last year some of us started wondering aloud about how to send a better message on Easter.
They had bowed so low that their hair was over their faces that I wasn’t exactly sure what they were doing. After about two minutes, they rose and came back down the steps of the stage. I asked, “What were you doing bent over like that?” One of them looked up at me, and in the tone of voice only girls approaching their teenage years can produce said, “Well, praying, obviously!”
How to download, make, and use a resurrection set to teach children about Good Friday and Easter.
Now as a spiritual director myself, I have the honor and privilege of accompanying people on their journeys. Almost always I am in a heightened state of awareness, eager to see how God’s presence is being manifest in another’s life. I always pray to be a channel for God’s words and a container for the expression of the person’s soul. It can be joyful. It can be truly painful. Sitting with another during periods of great sorrow and grief is a much an honor as hearing joys. Holding the container when there are dark nights of the soul, or deserts in the relationship with God, is difficult. It is also amazing.
“That was fun!” “That was a great lesson!” I had always hoped to hear comments like these from the youth of the church where I serve. But I…
Practical advice and suggestions for offering a stations of the cross service for children and families.
The season of Lent is a perfect time for children to take on the challenge of learning a prayer by heart, or memorizing a Bible verse. Here are some suggestions.
The purpose of Lenten discipline, I have discovered, is to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Full stop. Growing deeper into Christ’s love is the compelling reason to give something up for Lent; and it is no coincidence that this is also the only way to succeed in doing so.
Matthew and Charlotte invite you to a holy Lent with the words of the Book of Common Prayer, set to music.
You agreed in a pre-pageant haze to take over this year's Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. Lent seemed so far away... Now it's around the corner. You know people will show up, hungry. You know you have volunteers. What you don't know is how to turn on the church oven. Breathe. You can do this. We can help. Here at Building Faith we have BTDT experts to offer wisdom for just such occasions. BTDT, of course, stands for "Been There, Done That."
Planning a church youth trip this summer? Defining the purpose and character of the journey is key. Mission Trip or Pilgrimage? Each has unique benefits.
Inviting children into the seriousness of Ash Wednesday is a holy opportunity. Music and singing brings light to the experience.
Home baked bread has been part of my life ever since I can remember. On Sundays my mother would take out the Joy of Cooking, turn to page 603, and…