Welcome to St. Paul’s Children and Youth Online Formation Program, the March 27th edition!
(Check back every Friday for more material)
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Online Children’s Formation for March 27, 2020
For Everyone-- Coloring Pages in Times of Uncertainty
*These coloring pages are actually prayers for times when you feel uncertain, or scared. Here is a link to them.
For Everyone:Naming Loss and Gratitude with Young People in Uncertain Times
I think a lot of people (I'll include myself in this group) are feeling loss in these weeks. Luke Zerra, our Youth Minister, found an article from the Fuller Youth Institute that really speaks well to that, and how to handle it in older kids-- but I think it's really applicable to the younger group as well. It's called Naming Loss and Gratitude.
Naming loss and gratitude with young people in these uncertain days
Brad M. Griffin
(Article from Fuller Youth Institute, 2020)
What a difference a week can make. Or even a few hours.
Many of us are looking back at the not-so-distant past and remembering what little time we had to prepare. The flood of information. The contradictory decisions.
In my community, our school district decided to stay open—and then reversed within the span of 18 hours. Our kids started the school day with no warning that by the end, they’d be sent home for an indefinite quarantine. We are feeling it in our household, as I'm sure you are too. For my middle schooler and two high schoolers, the novelty quickly turned into sadness, anger, anxiety, and questions that can't be answered.
Swim meets wiped away.
Baseball season crushed.
A host of senior events canceled, just when being a senior started to get fun.
And that's just naming one loss per child, for just my three kids, for just the past few days. When I look outward to our church and community, the sense of overwhelm comes quickly. Our pastoral team is feeling it. Our team at FYI is feeling it.
In the midst of this moment—which is clearly becoming much more than a moment—we are all in need of practices to help us make meaning from our experiences. While parents are frantically learning how to home-school and ensuring they have a well-stocked kitchen, our kids are wrestling with their own mixed emotions. And on the ministry front, while our week may have been consumed by figuring out video streaming or moving group gatherings to digital spaces, our students need more than just online youth group. They need help naming and processing their new reality.
Our students need more than just online youth group. They need help naming and processing their new reality.
In our family, we put up two lists on the wall this week: One says Grateful, the other Loss. We're listing our losses, because naming them is really important. Little things and big things. The cancelled spring break trip. Not getting to go to church. Wondering if graduation will happen. We're also listing gratitudes. Finding things to be thankful for, and the little surprises of this disruption. Playing guitar again. Watching movies together. Not packing lunches every morning. Having devices to connect with friends. This practice of naming both losses and gifts is important for a few reasons.
1. Naming loss helps us be honest about grief. We don’t have to pretend like everything is just fine. We can name what’s lost, and lament it together. We can say, “That’s rough.” We can be sad. We can acknowledge sources of anger and irritability. There are plenty of those sources right now, and more coming.
2. Naming loss keeps us from minimizing or silver-lining. As a parent, my knee-jerk reaction is to minimize. I find that I have to intentionally practice holding back my “your life isn’t so bad” statements to my privileged middle-class first-world kids. While that sentiment may be true—even now—it’s unhelpful as a first response. Brené Brown urges us to remove the words “at least” from our vocabulary as we learn to practice empathy. Saying “at least” is a way to try to add a silver lining around a dark-cloud experience. Instead, most of us just want someone else to acknowledge that our experience is sad, and to be with us in our sadness for a while. This week’s losses might feel pretty minor in a few weeks, but that’s not for us to judge today. We need to see and name the losses for what they are and how we’re all experiencing them. Developmentally, adolescents naturally react to loss more emotionally—some blow up, some shut down. The emotion may not match the experience. You could see anger, tears, or even goofy laughter that seems inappropriate to the moment. Go with it. Then help them name the loss that they’re feeling.
3. Naming gratitude prevents us from drowning in sorrow. We can be honest about what’s hard without getting stuck. I think this is going to become a real challenge in the coming days and months. Finding things to be thankful for is a research-proven practice that can help young people, and all of us, manage both daily struggles and bigger challenges. Experts tell us that practicing gratitude can increase positive emotions, sleep quality, and overall well-being. At the very least, naming a positive thing about our day can help us mitigate some of the loss. There’s no need to try to cancel out all the sadness by manufacturing gratitude, but it’s important to find something that is going right in our lives when all feels wrong.
For Everyone-- Breath Prayers
Breath Prayer is an ancient form of prayer and it is easily adaptable. Simply choose one or two lines to meditate on and inhale and then exhale through them.
The most common form of breath prayer is known as The Jesus Prayer.
So with that as an example, you would do this:
Inhale. Fill your whole self with breath. Feel air in your lungs. And then say:
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God...
Exhale slowly and fully.And then say:
Have mercy on me, your beloved child.
And simply repeat this practice. Start with ten good breaths in and out, with the words.
Become aware of your body. Sit in a way that is comfortable for you, a position that will allow you to take a deep breath in and out. Close your eyes.
Then imagine a room or a place where you feel safe, your own sanctuary: it can be a real place or one that exists in your imagination. Imagine yourself in that sanctuary. Imagine the way the air smells and the way the light feels.
Breathe slowly and deeply while holding that place in your mind for a few moments, until you have all the details of it around your soul.
You’ll enter into your time of prayer or meditation from within that sanctuary.
This is where you are now, you and Mother-God, gathering you to Herself as a hen gathers her chicks under her warm, kind, capable wing.
Within that sanctuary, begin to breathe through a prayer you’ve chosen as we discussed above.
These are a few lines from Scripture that I have prayed over the years. You could also use your own words or lines from a poem or a song. Feel free to share your own with us in the comment section, too.
Inhale: Humble and gentle One,
Exhale: you are rest for my soul.
(From John 15)
Inhale: Nothing can separate me,
Exhale: from the love of God.
(From Psalm 46:10)
Inhale: Be still
Exhale: and know you are God.
(From Matt. 6:10)
Inhale: There is no fear
Exhale: in your Love.
(From Psalm 23)
Inhale: I will not be afraid
Exhale: for You are with me.
(From Psalm 46:1)
Inhale: You are our refuge
Exhale: and our strength.
(From Psalm 74:16)
Inhale: I find rest
Exhale: in Your shelter.
(From Psalm 103: 4-5)
For Parents-- link to parent check-ins, called "Ministering to Our Children While They Are at Home
Every week, we will have time to meet via the Zoom app to check in and just chat and figure out how we can continue to minister to our kids in this time when we cannot be together at St. Paul's.
Tuesdays, we will meet at 12pm and Fridays, we will meet at 2pm. Just click on the link below to join either meeting.
For Parents-- Link to St. Paul's Lenten Devotional
Created by St. Paul's parishioners, this Lenten Devotional is available online for anyone who is looking for a way to connect with God and our church community during this time of social distancing. The devotional is attached below.
For Everyone-- "This Little Light of Mine"
Click the link below for one of our favorite Children's Chapel songs, played by Christin Cooper!
For Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st graders
Godly Play Lessons for this week are both Old Testament lessons. The first, The Great Family, is about Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebecca and how God chose Abraham to be the father of the nations. The second video, The Exile and Return, is much further into the Old Testament and is the story of how the People of God were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon and were not allowed to go home. It's actually a very appropriate story for what's going on in the world today. Take a look at these links, recorded by Alexis Sheehan and Noah.
Grades 2 through 5 and beyond!-- Faith at Home
The Faith at Home lesson this week is another appropriate one for this week-- how God protects us during times of trouble, using the story of Moses and the Israelites. There are multiple sections in this link. There is a section of scripture that the lesson is based on. Then, it is followed by sections called Watch, Read, Listen, Do, and Pray.
For 5th grade and beyond-- The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22: 34-40)
"When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law? He replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands."
Everyone is familiar with the Ten Commandments, right? But did you know that there are **613** laws in the Old Testament for the people of Israel to follow?
No wonder they were always confused and lost. I could never remember that many rules. Jesus said, It’s easy. Just remember to Love God, and Love Your Neighbor. Because ALL THE OTHERS fall under those two. If you remember to love God and love your neighbors, you’ll be just fine.
You can prove to your kids that Jesus’ two greatest commandments really do encompass the Ten Commandments. AND all those other 613 laws from the Old Testament.
All you need is post-its or index cards. The picture above is the ten commandments-- write those on ten post-its or index cards. Then write Love God on one sheet of paper, and Love Others on another sheet of paper.
Before you do anything else-- it’s important to explain to the kids that the church authorities were trying to catch Jesus in a trap. Some people would have had favorites among those Ten Commandments. They would have been upset if Jesus hadn’t chosen THEIRS as the most important.
Now, sort and stick each commandment to one side-- each one belongs to either Love God or Love Others.
>Create cardboard or felt hearts printed with “God” on one side and “people” on the other side. You can keep these with you as a reminder. They might stick in a shoe or carry it in a pocket or purse.
Finally, there's a quote from Mr. Rogers that comes to mind whenever something scary is happening in the world. Here is a picture, with the quote..…
We hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy, and know that our prayers are with each and every one of you.