Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Can I Keep From Singing: Five Hymns from "Glory to God" to Use with Children

When I was a young child, I was part of a very small choir at our church called the Seraph choir. Four little girls with older siblings who were a part of the regular children and youth choir. Both choirs met on Saturday mornings (those were the days), and we would learn new music and generally work on our music skills. 

At one point our choir director (the assistant organist at our church) told us that she noticed on Sunday mornings, as she processed into the sanctuary with the choir, that we (us four little girls) were not singing along with the congregational hymns.

To encourage us to sing with the congregation, she started teaching us every Saturday morning the hymns that we would sing the next morning in worship. I am pretty sure that this one simple addition to our very simple children’s choir experience deeply affected my life. It developed my love not just for hymns but for congregational singing. It exposed me to some of the classic melodies of the Christian tradition as well as some of the most essential theological vocabulary of the faith. All starting at 6 years old. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Attachment Worshiping: sharing the pew with one another

It has been two years now since I left my work in congregational ministry— which means that for the past two years I have been able to consistently worship with my family instead of sitting in the “pastor’s” seat in the sanctuary. We have gotten into a particular habit lately, where my son sits in between my husband and I in the historic and weathered pews of our small congregation.

Frequently during worship I will feel my son grab my hand and wrap my arm around his shoulders. He is still about a head shorter than me, so often during the standing portions of the service he will slip in front of me with his back resting on my front so we can share a bulletin. Regularly he needs a simple reminder in the form of a firm squeeze on his knee to help him be still so as to not distract the kind people who worship behind us every week.

I have not gotten too caught up in the attachment parenting pros and cons as a variety of people debate the benefits of baby-wearing, bed-sharing and other attachment practices. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Broadening the Sunday School Canon: Ten Texts for Teenagers

Much of the time and energy I spent this past year working on my forthcoming book was devoted to revisiting the items I had chosen to be on my list of 100 things a student should know before Confirmation class. 

Most of my choices for the list were inspired by years of teaching Confirmation classes and working closely with Sunday school curriculum curricula. But the final list came together one snowy winter night during our 2011/2012 holiday vacation. In that moment the list was one part brainstorming, one part venting, and one part pipe-dreaming. 

Even though I spent two years blogging through this list, I didn't sit down to look at it as a whole until I started working on the book. With each chapter I wrote, I struggled with all of the things that were not included in the list:

Why am I including all three parables from the 15th chapter of Luke (the lost sheep, coin, and son) instead of including the parable of the Unforgiving Servant?

Do I include the story of Zacchaeus instead of the raising of Jairus’ daughter? An iconic passage from Isaiah, but not one of my favorites from Micah?

How do we put limits on what we read or know or explore in the Bible?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reading the Bible at Home: 5 suggestions to help you fulfill that New Year Resolution

Recently our family took on the task of reading the Bible together every day for the first time ever. At breakfast each morning of Advent, we read a story or short passage from the New Testament. I used a list of suggested readings from the back of my son’s Bible and put a slip of paper with each reference into our Advent calendar. 

Nothing miraculous happened. We didn’t change into a different family. My son didn’t suddenly start begging for more church or even more Bible reading. We didn’t discover some previously hidden truth. 

But what we did do was have 24 conversations that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. Sometimes they were about the nature and character of Jesus. Sometimes they were about where the Bible comes from and how it is translated. Sometimes they were about faith and faith expression. One time they were about where to find the part of the Bible that talks about the mark of the beast. 

A couple of weeks later our breakfasts have returned to their previous rhythm and conversations, and I am still thinking about how we might find a way to integrate daily Bible reading into our family routine.