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According to Staci...


Wanting to See God

My favorite part about decorating my home for Christmas, is setting out the nativity figures and crèche.  As a child, I  loved to carefully unwrap each precious figurine from it's cozy bed of waded paper toweling.  Then, I would gently set each little statuette into the nativity scene with careful thought of how it might look best to it's admirers.  Usually, all lined up on either side of the mossy, wooden stable on the piano of my home.

When the time came to include my own children in the unwrapping of the nativity set, I noticed that the scene never seemed to remain the same from when I had carefully helped them set it up.  My children always viewed the nativity set as a play toy.  A stage.  Engaging with the scene with words, sounds, animal noises and movement.  Sometimes adding flying cars, picnic baskets and toy food into the mix.  In watching my daughter play with the nativity set, I noticed that she would always carefully rearrange the figures into a semicircle around the stable and baby Jesus.  When I asked why she liked it that way, she said to me......."They all want to see God."

Don't we all long to see God?  To be engaged in the story of God's love that Jesus embodies.  To find in the nativity figures.....ourselves.  Realizing, that it is our story too.




The World's Way vs. God's Way

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."  John 18:36  What kingdom and what world was  Jesus referring to?  These are difficult things to figure out in the life of young people.  As the world would have it, the messages young people receive might include "Good guys finish last" or  "Kids have no say" or "Bigger is better".  These things come across as 'truths' that we often succumb to live by.  As part of the youngest of our generations, young people tend to define truth as that which can be verified through experience.  If they don't live it, it's not true. 

Jesus challenges us to a new definition of truth. Truth, as Jesus defines it, is embodied in servanthood-only by giving oneself away can one truly find oneself.  Such a vision can be a challenge for us all to live. But, especially to our young people, who are trying to find their way in a world in which the guiding principle is "Look out for number one."  The truth of which Jesus speaks of is a life lived in service to others, but this truth is often in conflict with the "truths" the world puts forth.

We can nurture our children to share in Jesus' vision of God's Way by helping them identify 'truths' as Jesus defined them, through his actions.  An easy reflection question for children might be, "What did Jesus teach us and what did Jesus do?" Jesus lived by helping others, praying often, caring for the marginalized, sharing with others, being a friend, and through the giving of joyful praise.  This is the vision of God's Kingdom that we can all be inspired and transformed by no matter how young or old. We can live the 'truths' as Jesus defined them, through our actions.


Would You Rather?

One activity I enjoy with children, is reading and asking questions from the 'Would You Rather?' book. Often the questions are silly, leading to fits of giggles.....'Would you rather sleep upside down like a bat, or standing up like a cow?  Sometimes the questions are more thought provoking....'Would you rather have the powers of a superhero for one day, or the power of the President of the United States for one whole year?'   Choices, Choices! 

I think one of the most powerful acts in life is the power to choose.  Think about what it means to make a choice. What we wear, eat, say, do, even what we feel all comes down to choices.  Our children are faced with so many choices everyday,  that we must take great care to teach our children the amazing power of a choice.

The 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school class at RBCC, put together a few pointers to help guide them in their choice making. 

1. Get all the information you can.

2. Imagine what will happen if you choose one way.  Imagine what will happen if you choose the other way.

3. Think of the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.

4. Ask the opinion of someone you trust.

5. Pray for God's wisdom and guidance.

6. Choose what seems the best choice to you at this time.

7. Follow through on your decision, knowing that if things change you may need to make a different choice.




Retreat Time

This last weekend I attend the all church retreat at Camp Brotherhood with my family. Not just my immediate family but also the community of people of all ages and stages that make up my greater church family.

Since I was a child, the all church retreat has been an important part of my life, with memories that are still vivid for me today. Memories like dancing on the feet of Bob Rodgers as a child or fighting to sleep on the top bunk of a 3 tiered metal bunk-bed at Pilgrim Firs. I remember gathering with the youth as a teen and having our youth director pick us each a theme song….mine was ‘Good Day Sunshine’. Square Dancing and volley ball, crafts and campfires. Now as an adult, with children of my own, it is wonderful to see their excitement of the continuing tradition. They enjoy their own special memories that often don’t include me, but the other members of their extended church family.

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