Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wisdom of the Old Testament: 5 (out of 100) Things Your Child Should Know before Confirmation Class

 It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I am mindful of this truism every time I sing a limp version of The Byrds 1960’s classic “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to try to convince a class of Confirmation students that they know a piece of scripture from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. It never works.

I don’t think it has anything to do with my singing (though I do find it to be a difficult song to pull off a cappella). They are just one too many generations removed from the 1960’s for the song to ring any bells. As depressing as that is, what is even more discouraging is that when I read the passage to them directly from the Bible, it is just as unfamiliar to them.

In this ongoing conversation about the things that can help your child get the most out of their Confirmation experience, I have included five examples of texts from the Old Testament wisdom/prophetic literature that should be a part of a student’s biblical psyche before the start Confirmation Class. You can read here the previous posts I have written in this series.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take it. Break it. Share it. Love it

Making Communion Meaningful for Children
In the second season of the TV drama Mad Men, young and rising advertising copywriter Peggy Olson lands the Popsicle account by comparing a mother’s act of taking a twin pop from the freezer, breaking it in two and giving it to her children to the ritual of sharing in the Sacrament of Communion.

Sharing a Popsicle, she tells the executives, is not just something that you do in the summer heat, but a ritual that is enacted all year around. No matter if it came from the freezer or from the ice cream truck, each time you: take it, break it, share it, love it.

Peggy’s character is Roman Catholic (in fact, in this episode she is working through a crush on her mother’s new young priest), and in that tradition the celebration of the Mass really is an everyday/every week ritual. Had Peggy attended a Presbyterian Church (my tradition) in this fictional 1960’s world, she might have celebrated Communion three times over the course of a year.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ten Things I Want to Tell Parents

When I started this blog about a year ago, I planned to focus on sharing my insights into how parents can and should provide religious nurture for their children. As I have reflected on this past year, I thought it would be helpful to briefly lay out in one post some of the most important things that I have learned as a pastor and a parent who works with families.

Almost all of what I have written relates to one of these ten things that I think parents should know. Once we delve into the details and particulars of different parts of scripture or faith, sometimes these essentials can get lost in the shuffle.

So below are the ten most important things that I want to tell parents (even parents in my own congregation) as they work to strengthen the spiritual lives of their children.

1.YOU, not the church, are the primary religious educator for your children. Yes, the church serves as a resource for teaching your child about the Bible, worship, theology, and even religious history. But even if a child never misses a week of Sunday school, there is never enough time in that once a week class to reinforce and build upon the lessons of scripture and faith that children have the potential to learn. read more here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Gospel According to...well, the Gospels: 5 (out of 100) Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation Class

The image of Jesus I grew up looking at
each Sunday in worship.
One of the most intense assignments I give Confirmation students is to read the entire Gospel of Mark and report what they learned about the life of Jesus, the patterns they noticed, or even the things that struck them as odd.

This post is part of a series that I am the middle of exploring how students can get the most out of their Confirmation experience. Check out the full list and other posts here.

I know I have told this story here before, but my favorite reaction to this assignment came about 5 years ago. One of the girls in the class started off the discussion on Mark even before we were ready to start class by complaining to me:

“Why didn’t anyone ever tell me Jesus was so mean?”

All I could think of as a response was, “I am so sorry. I should have told you before.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Man's Search for Meaning

A Minecraft church. No, my son did not build this.
I came home from running errands the other day to find my son and my husband in a fierce disagreement about a game they had been playing on the computer together. My son was both yelling and in tears.

I should back up to say that over the past few weeks he has become enthralled with the online building game Minecraft. In this game, players create their own worlds out of square blocks, including land, water, animals, even elaborate buildings. I have not yet fully come to appreciate it, but one evening he lured his father in to create a world together.

After my son had gone to bed, his father continued to play in this new world (which included a red brick school building where my son planned to teach his father how to play). In the course of exploring, my husband got lost in the game. Not metaphorically losing track of reality – literally lost: he had wandered too far away from the school they had created to be able to find his way back. Then he turned off the computer and went to bed.