Archive for the 'Christian Formation' Category

Waiting in the atrium

The children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria are marking the Sundays of the Advent season, making their own paper Advent wreaths, working with a liturgical calendar and hearing stories of the Annunciation and the Visitation – the first when the angel visits Mary to tell her she’s going to have a special baby and name him Jesus, and the second when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is carrying her own special baby to be named John the Baptist.

Placing Jesus as a real man in a real place and time has been the work of the children leading up to these Infancy Narratives. The Level 1 children have a sandpaper globe, a puzzle map of Israel and a relief map of the region. They are able to touch and discover the important cities in the life of Jesus – Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

In Level 2, further geography work includes pin maps and a scavenger hunt-type card work that challenges them to look up Scripture passages to complete a search for cities of the early life and ministry of Jesus. They also hear about Mary and Elizabeth, going a bit deeper into the details of the stories and hearing more of the Magnificat, Mary’s special prayer of praise.

The oldest children in Level 3 have been concentrating on the Plan of God, marking Advent with Bible study and recalling how the birth of Jesus is the beginning of one of the three great moments in the Kingdom of God – Redemption. The other two are Creation and Parousia (when God will be all in all).

Laura Starr-Houghton helps a child gather materials to create a pasting depicting the colors of the church year.

The Level 2 children prepare to hear a presentation during Advent.

Gardening

The children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria worked recently in the garden space between the old and new building. The space adjoins a play area fenced off several years ago, but never fully completed.

Before the snow sets in for good for the winter, the children worked very hard in both areas to rake, move stones and old building materials, replant perennials, dig out stumps and other tasks. Plans were also mapped out for the spring, taking into account the shady areas as well as those that will receive enough sunlight for flowering plants.

We hope to use those flowers for our arranging work in the atria. We’d also love to plant a “pizza garden”!  Want to help? See Laura Arvin.

All ages got involved.

Clean up is more fun with friends!

This group was mighty proud of a particularly difficult stump they managed to extract. It was a fun day outside in the sunshine enjoying God's creation.

A New Year…

Flower arranging is a favorite work for children in the Level 2 atrium.

Our Children’s Formation program – the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd – started a new year September 25. Children arrived to find the space had been changed around. The youngest children in Level 1 are now in their own room (once occupied by the oldest children). Levels 2 and 3 are in the big room, separated by dividers, but with a pass-through between so that the older children might access some of the materials from Level 2.

This “porous-ness”  is also an advantage for the adults who are with the children. We now have two catechists – one for Level 1 and one for Level 2 and 3. Laura Starr-Houghton is training for Level 2 and Laura Arvin is training for Level 3.

If anyone is interested in beginning training, please see either of these women to express an interest. And, as always, if you would like to join us in the atrium to see what the children are up to, please come and see!

 

Formation Begins

Holy Cross began its church school year in September with a lovely full breakfast. Formation opportunities for all ages follow the breakfast – the adults stay in the parish hall and the children go upstairs to the atria.

Everyone enjoys a full breakfast, beginning at 9am. Afterwards, the adults relax with coffee and hold their Adult Forum.

After breakfast, the children gather in the atria of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Here a child prepares to work with a practical life exercise.

Recognition Day for Atria

On June 12, 2011, one of the many milestones we will be celebrating is the end of the formation year. Each year, the adults in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program recognize the children’s work during the past year, giving certificates of completion and offering a gift to those who will move into the next level in the fall.

We hope all parents and children can be there for this, as well as to offer Anne God’s blessing as she “retires” as our Level 3 catechist.

The Sunday of June 12 is the feast of Pentecost, the celebration of the visitation of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. In the atria, Pentecost is marked with a special presentation involving a meditation on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and a sharing of the Light of Christ in strengthening us in those gifts.

The children and adults love these celebrations, especially because they involve receiving our own lights – our own candle to watch over – until time when we put them all together on the prayer table and watch the light get bigger and spread. Our lights joined make all the lights more beautiful and stronger.

This will be our final atrium session until the fall. Many thanks to parents and other adults in the congregation who have assisted in the atrium this year. We hope that others will be called to join the adults and children as we deepen our relationships with God.

Rule of Life — Sample Worksheet

Outline for a Rule of Life Chapter

Title of Chapter: Friendship

 

What do you see in Scripture, church tradition or reason regarding this topic that provides some light or guidance?

 

Friendship resides in the heart of God. The Trinity is a friendship. The Father’s gift of the Son is his act of befriending us. Jesus’s sacrifice is the supreme  friendship. The Church is a communion of friendship. Sin is the rejecting or breaking of friendship.

 

What do you see in yourself and your life at present regarding this topic (an honest inventory of where you are now)?

 

I am shy and tend of have relationships which are not really friendships – work or client relationships. I have been hurt sometimes by friendships without proper boundaries.

 

What are your goals for how your life will express this topic?

 

I would like an array of real friendships, with people of various ages, men and women, where I could accept and be accepted without needing to “perform” or please.

 

What measures will you take to encourage the goals you have set for yourself in this area (people, resources, checks and balances, boundaries, etc.)?

 

I will deliberately reach out to potential friends – invitations to dinner, closer connections with old friends. I will need to set aside time each week to cultivate friends – without work agendas. I will be careful with relationships that seek something beyond friendship from me  or with people who complain too much or are unduly negative.

 

What do you seek from God in assistance regarding this topic?

 

I ask God to free me of self-consciousness that holds me back from friendship. To help me first of all to be a true friend to myself – a subject for reflection in daily prayer.

Rule of Life — chapter worksheet form

Outline for a Rule of Life Chapter

Title of Chapter: _______________________

What do you see in Scripture, church tradition or reason regarding this topic that provides some light or guidance?

What do you see in yourself and your life at present regarding this topic (an honest inventory of where you are now)?

What are your goals for how your life will express this topic?

What measures will you take to encourage the goals you have set for yourself in this area (people, resources, checks and balances, boundaries, etc.)?

What do you seek from God in assistance regarding this topic?

Lenten Series: A Personal “Rule of Life” — Week 2

Living with a Rule of Life

In monastic communities, the community typically gathers each morning in what is called the Chapter Room of the monastery or convent, and the abbot or superior reads a chapter from the community’s rule — working through the whole rule, day by day. The monks or nuns then reflect together on how they are living their rule, what needs to be changed in their lives to do so better, their thoughts and feelings about the rule. With a personal rule of life, you too can take a chapter a day (or one for the whole week), checking in as it were on how you are doing living with it.

Beginning to Draft a Rule

Last week we ended our session by asking everyone to think of all the areas of their lives that would be candidates of gaining clearer focus and better direction. Each such area becomes the title of a chapter in your rule of life: e.g. Money, Work, Prayer (Inner Life), Family, Recreation, Computer Time, Exercise, Health, Service, Worship. These areas will vary from person to person. It’s probably better to start work on a few chapters, adding to them as you go along. Work on one may suggest others you want to add.

The next step, after you have your list of a few areas, to prepare an outline page for each one (see handout). The parts of this outline are:

  1. Sources of guidance: what do you see in Scripture, church tradition or reason regarding this topic?
  2. What do you see in yourself regarding this topic (and “honest inventory”)?
  3. What are your goals for how your life will express this topic?
  4. What measures will you take to encourage the goals you have set for yourself (people, resources, checks and balances, boundaries, etc.)?
  5. What do you seek from God in assistance regarding this topic?

As you work with your chapters, others may suggest themselves. Keep each chapter simple. For instance, if you are writing a chapter on friendship and see that you need to make time for friendship, that may lead you to write a chapter on time (or stewardship of time). Or it may lead you to see that you need a chapter on your marriage or your family.

Here is a link to a worksheet for drafting a chapter. Here is a link to a sample of how such a worksheet is filled out.

About  “Sources of Guidance”

For Anglicans, authority is a matter of working with Scripture (the Bible), tradition (Church teachings and practice through the ages), and reason (our intelligence, experience and modern developments in knowledge). All of these may be sources of guidance for you in writing your chapter. You will want to set forth very simply how you see these as authorities or guides for your life.

About “an Honest Inventory”

This is about where you start in your growth. Your rule will be no better than your honesty with yourself on where you are now in an area and why you are there – what traps you there, what are your problems getting “free”? This may lead you to seek the sacrament of Reconciliation or to counseling: it helps to confess honestly to another person (one trained and authorized).

 About Hope

Your goals can best be expressed in terms of hopes. Hope is one of the three theological virtues (faith, hope and love). It has to do with the direction of our lives. (Biblical images: Abram in today’s OT reading.) We’ll come back to hope in the next session of this series.

 About “Encouragements”

In using each chapter of your rule, you will want some fairly practical guidelines and supports to help you bring your life into conformity with your hopes for it. For instance, if you hope to avoid unnecessary spending, your “encouragements” section of the money chapter might commit you to a weekly inventory of just where your money has gone. If you are dealing with addiction, you might commit to attending a certain number of 12-step meetings each week. In other words, this section will have some practical, fairly measurable means to help and encourage you in keeping your rule and working towards your hopes.

Assistance from God

A very important part of living out a rule is asking God for assistance. This will become a central focus of your prayer life. In this section of the rule, you will be asking for the help and support you need — not just in a general way, but rather specifically: “I will pray daily to the Lord to keep me from the temptation of . . . .” “I will take an honest inventory and confess to God each night before I go to bed the ways in which I have failed to live in obedience to this chapter.”

Lenten Series: A Personal “Rule of Life” – Week I

Introduction: Lives Out of Control

We started our discussion with the question: how many of us have the feeling, some or all of the time, that our lives are “out of control”? That life is slipping by and leaving us unsatisfied? That our time, energies, money are going to meet other’s demands, demands upon us, leaving us with never enough? Continue reading ‘Lenten Series: A Personal “Rule of Life” – Week I’

Youth Group

Kids in grades 7 and up gather after breakfast at 9:15 each Sunday. Under the leadership of John Heckman, they engage in games, discussion, activities and learning. They also participate in special events at other times: parties, snow tubing, movies, shopping for Christmas gifts for the children of prison inmates, Adopt-a-Highway roadside pickups, and trips with the youth of other congregations.

Some of the Youth Group members helped decorate the Worship Space with paper doves for the Day of Pentecost.

Some of the Youth Group members helped decorate the Worship Space with paper doves for the Day of Pentecost.

 

Our young people also take active roles in worship, reading lessons, playing instruments, as acolytes (servers), and occasionally helping with informal dramas. Coming from several area schools, of a range of ages, Holy Cross teens are a diverse group who enjoy each other, welcome friends and newcomers, and look on the congregation as family.

A teenager brings his guitar skills to add to Sunday worship.

A teenager brings his guitar skills to add to Sunday worship.

Visiting monk Curtis Almquist visits with Holy Cross teenagers.

Visiting monk Curtis Almquist visits with Holy Cross teenagers.