Prayers of the People

 

During this week’s Jr. Middler II session, our oldest group of campers wrote the prayers of the people for chapel:

 

*God we pray for the church worldwide.  We ask you that divisions amongst ourselves would cease, and that we will understand one another better.  We ask that the church helps people and does not hurt them.

 

*God we pray for our government.  Please guide them to make wise decisions, especially financially.  We ask for world peace and a chance for all of our soldiers to come home.  Thank you for their brave service.  Thank you for our freedom. 

 

*God we pray for anyone struggling with depression or addiction.  Get them through the tough time to a brighter future ahead.  Give them hope.  Help them not give up.

 

*God we pray for our own generation.  Help us each to have a better self-image and believe in your love for us. Help us to know our own gifts and use them for you.

 

Amen.

Day Camp in Lewistown

 Head Counselor Janelle FulleIMG_2759r reflects on a week spent in partnership with four churches in     Lewistown, as she and other staff led a day camp for nearly fifty children.
 
What do you get when you combine 44 children (all nine and under), 22 volunteers, a 6 hour drive, 5 Camp Marshall staff and 4 different churches?  YOU GET AN AWESOME DAY CAMP, THAT’S WHAT!
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On a hike together.

Over the last week, five members of Camp Marshall’s staff traveled to Lewistown to lead a day camp for a group of amazing kids.  We worked alongside volunteers from Lewistown’s Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches to bring summer camp to kids who can’t travel across the state to attend Camp Marshall.  Each of the participating parishes  sent kids and volunteers to join together in worship, service, learning, and celebration.

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Spinning wool

   Throughout the week we ate, sang, played, learned and worked together.  Some of our highlights were getting to go on a hike at the fish hatchery, a very funny  skit responding to John’s gospel story about the raising of Lazarus, a visit from a sheep farmer and seeing wool spun into yarn, serving the community through various work projects, AND getting to build and ride on a float for the 4th of July parade!
Day Camp 4

A lamb walking behind the “Great Shepherd of the Sheep” themed float.

Our week together was action packed, and we are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.  It was especially encouraging to see so many individuals from parishes working together to raise up children in faith.   It was a gift to spend time with God’s people in Lewistown!

Unexpectedly blessed: a camp volunteer reflects on Grace Camp

IMG_8158In the paragraphs below, Janie Koch, Director of Youth Ministry at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Billings, offers her reflections on a week at Camp Marshall’s Grace Camp session.  
IMG_7045This week’s campers have seen and experienced the good, the bad, the funny and amazing, and the heartbreaking aspects of life. But this week, for a week, they come to Grace Camp to simply be kids.
Some notes on our experience together:
Benediction: God blesses us. He gives us the rain and the sun. He offers people to us with whom we are instant friends, and he offers those who instantly challenge us. He provides us with opportunities to learn from one another before we could make a mistake. God’s blessings are boundless…we only need to look up and look out.
What have we all learned? (That question applies to campers and counselors alike.) We have learned not to judge a book by its cover. We have learned techniques in painting. We have expressed ourselves through music. We have also learned that the best memories can be made during the most dreary, soggy, rainy afternoons.Grace Camp Polar Bear
Benediction: We bless God. We follow his desire to love one another. We obey his commandments. We thank God for the sunshine and the rain. We sing praises to him, even when the song involves a hippopotamus! We forgive someone when they have hurt us. We have learned a bit more patience than we started with. We have made sock puppets. We have all learned to open up and share one another’s burdens.
Benediction: We bless others. We show one another how to play the guitar or how to thread a needle or how to write a letter or how to make friendship bracelets. We listen. We pray. We laugh. We trust and prove ourselves trustworthy. We realize that just because we are different does not mean that differences separate or divide us. We have performed in front of one another in the talent show and gone polarbearing (jumping into Flathead Lake even before the sun comes up!).
Benediction: Others bless us. We allow others into our lives. We accept friendship and love and hugs. We allow God to fill us with His love and grace through the smiles and cheers and high fives of those that God places before us. The best definition of this week’s ‘benediction’ theme was offered by a child we thought was not fully engaged in the activities of the week and who appeared to struggle with the discussions and interactions with other campers. At the end of the week, after all the skits, songs, sermons, and activities about benediction and IMG_2759blessings, this child — without hesitation — said, “A blessing is  when God is lovin’ on you!”
May our mighty God continue to bless these children as they return to their homes, May God show God’s grace and mercy and strength to them every day, and may they know that our Heavenly Father continues to shower them with blessings! 

Scripture with Children 0 – 7 years old

Last week during our Christian Formation conference call, we talked about how we engage children and youth in our parishes in hearing, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting Scripture.  Over the course of the next week, several posts will detail the specific resources we shared with one another.  The first part of our conversation focused on milestones:  what are our goals for engaging children in scripture?  This post sketches out our parts of our discussion relating to children under seven years old.

0-2 year olds will...

  • …experience the Church as a community in which they receive consistent love and care.  (Here, the nursery is a gateway into the larger parish.)
  • … participate in Holy Communion with their families; see, touch, taste, smell, hear our sacramental practice.
  • … find their parents invited into a life of discipleship.56yrgodlyplay600x450

2-7 year olds will…

  • … develop a vocabulary of faith by participation in the life of the parish (this includes a familiarity with scriptural symbols and metaphors, and related liturgical actions).
  • … voice existential questions and hear relevant scriptural stories in response.
  •  … learn and re-tell basic stories of faith.  (“Which basic stories?”  We talked briefly about which stories we would definitely include.  Godly Play offers a structure of sorts.  Rebecca Kirkpatrick, a Presbyterian pastor, offers this list of things she believes a child should know before confirmation and includes a list of scripture texts.)
  • … memorize scripture through music.
  • … articulate and practice self-giving, and refer to relevant scripture texts.

Some ideas for the parish…

  • Set an assortment of Bibles out in the narthex before Sunday worship, and encourage families to take a Bible to use during the liturgy and to use at home during the week.
  • Keep a children’s Bible in the pew.  At St. James in Bozeman, The Beginner’s Bible is in every pew.
  • Have the parish gift a storybook/picture Bible to a family at their child’s baptism.

What ideas can you add to this list?

Storybook or Picture Bibles:

Note:  All storybook Bibles are paraphrases (rather than translations) in which editors decide  which stories will be included.  Be aware of details that are left out of storybook/picture Bibles, or of theological biases that are central to specific picture Bibles.  

  • The Beginner’s Bible:  a basic storybook Bible for very young children.aslans-bookshop1
  • The Bible for Children:  a basic picture Bible that stays close to the words of scripture.  Includes more than 200 Bible stories.  Beautifully illustrated.
  • Children of God Storybook Bible:  55 Bible stories with a short prayer to accompany each story, written by The Rt. Rev. Desmond Tutu.   A different artist illustrates each story, so the artwork is presented in a variety of styles. (I appreciate that in this BIble, Jesus looks different in each gospel story.)
  • Jesus Storybook Bible and curriculum:  A beautiful, lyrical picture Bible which – through the stories that are chosen – tells the gospel story of Jesus’ “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”  (It is flexible, even midrashic, in its choice of stories and its narration of those stories.  Note, for example, that its retelling of Gen. 3 God says to Adam and Eve, “It will not always be so!  I will come to rescue you…”  The assurance of God’s commitment to bring God’s people to wholeness is in the spirit of the larger story of scripture, but not in any standard translation of Genesis 3.)
  • Children’s Illustrated Bible:  An encyclopedia-style picture Bible published by DK with maps and illustrations that attempt to accurately illustrate Ancient Near Eastern life and culture.  Notes in the text include specific historical suggestions, for example, that the “fish that swallowed Jonah may have been a sperm whale.”
  • Big Picture Story Bible:  Twenty-six Bible stories focused on conveying a particular reading of the larger message of Scripture.  Appropriate for primary school students.
  • Gospel Story Bible:  A reading of Scripture focused on telling stories of the Bible with an emphasis on gospel story.  Uses simple, engaging illustrations.  See a blog post which shows a story from it here.
  • Spark Storybook Bible:  150 Bible stories with accompany curriculum published by Augsburg Fortress.  A more comprehensive children’s Bible that employs cartoon-like illustrations.  See a sample story here.
  • The Brick Bible – a depiction of Bible stories using Lego pieces.  Definitely not the only storybook Bible to have in one’s collection, but a novel option for young kids who love Lego.   Church Publishing has a curriculum-based take on this.  And here, a blog post which discusses using Lego in Godly Play.
  • Read Aloud Bible Stories (Vol. 1-4):  Appropriate for young children, each volume includes five Bible stories and illustrations.  Note that the stories aren’t in the volumes in the same order as in our scripture text.  (For example, the creation story from Genesis 1 is in Vol. 3).
  • Walking with God Board Books:  Nursery-appropriate board books engaging very young children in scripture texts.  Published by Paulist Press, a Roman Catholic publisher.  Photos are somewhat dated, but still engaging for babies and toddlers who love to look at the faces of other children.photo-10
  • Psalms for Young Children:  Many people love this book, which has engaging illustrations, and paraphrases psalms with simple, culturally familiar language.  Our personal copy of this book hasn’t’ gotten much use:  many psalms are lyrical and concrete enough to  engage young children as written, and they are short enough to read before bedtime.

During our conversation, we talked quite a bit about how Godly Play, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and/or Young Children and Worship have former our habits of hearing, reading, and responding to scripture with children.

By the time children are six or seven years old, they may be hungry for a Bible translation of their own.  Stay tuned for our next post, a write-up of our conversation about milestones and resources for scripture study with elementary-aged children.  In the meantime, use the comments section to share what picture Bibles and Bible study resources you find valuable for use with young children.

 

Catch a glimpse: Spring Youth Retreat 2014

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