2016 Christian Home Month Resource (now available)

Christian Home Month 2016

Families Called to Hope

The 2016 Christian Home Month resource is for family ministry leaders, ministry teams, and council chairpersons/coordinators in local congregations. It is designed to help local congregations develop and strengthen faith in the home and to celebrate Christian Home Month. Although Christian Home Month is typically celebrated during the month of May, congregations may choose any month of the year to focus on the Christian home and its key role as a center for faith formation.

Our theme for 2016 is Families Called to Hope. We live in a tumultuous time; the television news, Internet, and other forms of media inundate us with images and stories of violence, political controversy, inequality, and hate. It seems that sin, violence, and corruption surround us and take all the joy out of living. We have much to fear. Yet, we know that as Christians we are called to be a people of hope. We hope for a better world where everyone will feel and experience God’s love, peace, justice, and grace.

This downloadable PDF includes worship service resources, a retreat plan, and devotional activities for families as they foster a spirit of hope in their homes. We trust that you will find something in this resource that will inspire, encourage, and affirm you as you continue in this important work to which you are called.

DOWNLOAD the 2016 Christian Home Month planning resource [PDF]

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Lent starts tomorrow…

are you and your family ready?

lent-spiritual-preparation

The season of Lent, a 40-day journey, provides the church an awesome opportunity to turn toward God as we prepare our hearts for the mystery of Easter. During Lent, it is important for us to model appropriate disciplines that help children understand the meaning of this time of preparation.

Check out these tools, resources, and weekly family devotionals:

https://umc-intergenerational-ministry.com/lent/

Family Faith Formation: Prayer (NEW WEBSITE)

Family Faith Formation

Prayer is one tool that we can use as we participate in the means of grace, loving God and loving neighbor. Through prayer we say to God:

“This is important, I want to be in relationship and communication with you.”

Through prayer, we engage in relationship with our Creator. Every person learns, develops, and sharpens this spiritual tool by observing and learning from others and by practicing this discipline over and over again. With repetition and dedication prayer provides a reliable way for us to recognize, reflect, claim, and respond to God’s presence and love.

As you Connect with God through prayer make plans with your family to:

Join us on Facebook. Share your stories and wisdom #famfaithform

Living the Shema- Gratitude for those who journey with us

shema Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God  with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)           

In the last 6 months, five of my closest friends have said good-bye to their grandmothers. Many more of my friends are grieving as they journey with a beloved friend or family member whose bodies are aging and are starting to decline. For some of my friends these realities represent an end of an era as they grieve the loss of their last living grandparent and look towards a future where, for them, there is a void- an empty space once filled by a specific generation of caregivers, mentors, and friends.

As I hold my friends and their families in prayer I am realizing that my friends and I, along with others in our generation, are now entering into a time in the lifecycle when goodbyes are frequent as we mourn the loss of many older adults who have shaped and formed us. And- as a colleague reminded me as I shared my grief- this is a time when many in my parent’s generation are now saying good-bye to their parents. The cycle of life is a constant reminder of all things past, present, and yet to come. We move through this circle together, journeying with each other as we experience every life changing moment.

Unknown-2At Christmas, I was blessed to spend time with my Babushka (Russian for grandmother) who is now 97 years old. While the onset of dementia takes its toll on her aging body, I am reminded of her legacy whenever I look into her eyes, hold her hand, and feel the love we have grown together. It is in these moments when I experience overwhelming gratitude for this woman and others in my life who carved the path and led the way down the road I now trod. I remember our trip to visit family in Israel when I was 5 years old and in Russia when I was twelve. I recall the moment when she taught me what it means to leave my personal belongings behind because someone else “needs it more than you do.” babushka and meAs I look into my Babushka’s eyes I hear her say: Tanichka (my Russian nickname), “I love you.” Overwhelmed by the love that flows from her heart to mine, I respond: “Babushka, I love you too.” We have shared these words with each other for 35 years- they are words that now connect our hearts to one another even when illness and time seem to try to pull us apart. These moments, full of grief and joy, are the threads that weave us together reminding us of God’s presence and love.

As I listen to my friends share their stories and as I read their messages and thoughts posted on facebook, blogs, and obituaries, I see how these intergenerational relationships teach us, challenge us, change us, and inspire us to become the people God created us to be. As we journey together, young and old, we are shaped and formed by each other’s journey. These intergenerational relationships remind us of God’s call for the entire Body of Christ to be in ministry with each other.

What a gift it has been to have oldThank-youer adults in my life that I have had the privilege of calling mentor and friend. Whether these adults are 5, 10, 20, 30, or 60+ years older; whether we call them mentors, friends, and for some grandma, granddad, or in my case babushka… they are God’s gift to us and us to them. The gift of community (either by blood or circumstance) is God’s gift to each of us. Community challenges us and sustains us throughout the lifecycle. Community holds us up when our legs are shaky, lends a helping hand when we fall, carries us when we get tired, and cheers us on at the finish line. God calls us to do the same in return. It is through these relationships that we develop respect, appreciation, and deep love for each other. This is how we practice sharing God’s love with those around us. Intergenerational relationships create a space for us to know what it means to Love God and Love neighbor. When we pay attention we are forever changed by those who come before us and after us; those persons who journey with us-even if just for a little while.

I wonder


Wondering Together

I wonder…

  • Who has mentored, shaped, challenged, and inspired you?
  • Who are you mentoring, shaping, challenging, and inspiring?
  • How does your community nurture intergenerational relationships?

Practical-Application

This week take time to:

Remember:

  • When did someone older than you teach, help, encourage, or guide you?
  • When did someone younger than you teach, help, encourage, or guide you?

 

Give thanks:

  • Name the persons in your life who have challenged, inspired, shaped, and changed you
  • Hold these people in your prayers, thanking God for their presence in your life
  • Name the people who you are now mentoring, guiding, leading, challenging, and encouraging.
  • Hold these people in your prayers, thanking God for their presence in your life.

Respond:

  • Reach out to one (or more of these persons). Invite them to lunch, go for a visit, send a card, or make a phone call.
  • Let one (or more of these persons) know how they have impacted your life
  • Find a new way for your community to nurture intergenerational relationships. This might include one of the following:
    • Create a mentoring ministry
    • Encourage persons to sit with someone new in worship
    • Create a space where persons of all ages gather around the table together
    • Invite someone older/younger than you are to share a meal or to join you in a family activity

Into the woods: Journeying Together

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another… Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. ” (Romans 12:5-6 & 9-10)

Over the Christmas break I had the privilege of seeing the movie Into the Woods. After this first viewing I sat still in my chair as my mind quickly tried to memorize all the many moments that caught my attention, that affirmed my experiences, and that made me say: “YES! They get it!” This movie had such a large impact on me that I returned to see it again last week- hoping to catch all the nuggets of wisdom hidden inside this show.

Morals and truths are woven throughout this movie (originally a Broadway production). As some of the more memorable fairy tale characters: Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (from Jack and the Bean stalk), Cinderella, the Baker, the Baker’s wife, and many others go in and out of the woods they are changed, shaped, and formed… learning things that they “hadn’t known before.” As both the children and adults enter into the woods, they experience individual adventures that become connected as they interact with, share, and learn from each other.

Cinderella (a character reflective of a young adult) reminds Little Red Riding Hood and the audience that “no one is alone.” No matter what happens, even if people leave or when you have to make individual decisions, ultimately, “no one is alone.” We go in and out of the woods, meet new people, and have new adventures. Sometimes we are disappointed, sad, excited, nervous, or happy. We experience many things as we all make this journey together. And through it all- God’s promise to us is that we are not alone. We have the gift of each other- the body of Christ represents the gift of community.

When people of all generations, times, places, experiences, cultural backgrounds come together we experience the beauty of the whole- the complete body of Christ. Although the community might look different than we imagined we remember that we are all connected and that none of us journey alone. As we journey, we learn from each other- child from adult, adult from child. As our paths cross and as we experience these adventures together, we (as Jack proclaims) are changed. We “know things now that [we] never knew before.” We now have wisdom to share and insight to offer. When we share, we all learn and grow. In response- the body of Christ is strengthened and the world is changed.

We are all connected. We do not travel on individual paths, but on interconnected trails that lead all of us in and out of the woods together. Sometimes we might veer out on our own but when we pay attention we realize how our paths connect with the other ones. We are not alone, what we do impacts others. In the finale of this show, the Witch reminds us of how the decisions we make, the words we say, the things we do not only impact us but potentially impact other:

Careful the spell you cast….Sometimes the spell may last….Past what you can see….And turn against you…

Perhaps this is what Paul was trying to say in Romans 12: “We are one in Christ….individually we are members one of another.” Individuals, yet one body- called to love one another with mutual affection, remembering that because we journey together our words and actions teach, impact, effect, and influence the people around us.  As Martin Luther King, Jr reminded us:

  • “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to beThis is the inter-related structure of reality.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation)
  • “Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally in the red. We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a European. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half of the world…. All life is interrelated. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” (King III ed. The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr, Second Edition, 18).

And so we continue on the journey. We go in and out of the woods always remembering that we are not alone. As we continue on the journey we remember the call-  to live in a way that respects and honors those who journey with us, to pay attention to the things we can learn from others, to be intentional as we seek to teach and guide others, and to always remember that God journeys with us giving us the strength, the courage, and the peace we need to live, work, support, and learn from each other.

Wondering together

I wonder…

  •  What you have learned from someone younger than you?
  • What have you learned from someone older than you?
  • Who looks up to and learns from you?
  • Who do you look up to/ Who are you shaped and formed by?
  • Who can you say thank-you to today?

Practical Application

This week take time to:

  • Pay Attention:  Watch and take note of persons who help, teach, and share Christ’s light with you.

  • Listen: Take time to wonder with your community. Whether sitting around the dinner table, in the car, or when you are out at coffee with family/friends- take time to listen to your community- what are they teaching you?
  • Give Thanks: Spend time in prayer with your family/friends/community, give thanks for persons who form you. At the end of the day take time to share your gratitude list with God: “God, today I am grateful for….” If you have children this can be done at bedtime as you tuck them in to bed.
  • Respond:  Choose a way that you/your family/community etc can respond to those who help you by helping others. Find a place to serve another person this week. Take time to say thank-you to your server, your barista, your cashier. Write a thank-you note to someone who has shown Christ’s light to you.