St. Columba's Episcopal Church

Sunday School 101 for Parents

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What did you learn in Sunday School this week?

As parents, so often we get little or no response. Here is some useful information that will help you share in your child's Sunday School experience and help you enrich your family's faith. Each week, Pattie Ames, director of children's ministry, publishes a synopsis of the Bible stories shared in Sunday School, and provide some questions and ideas to let you expand upon them at home.

May 21, 2017
The Community Comes Together for Worship and the Eucharist

The children learn about worship being at the heart of our community and coming together to share the Eucharist. We come into union with God and God's family through baptism, and we have a reunion every week. Think about it; what do you do at a family reunion? We tell stories, we eat, we are with each other and some families sing. That is what we do each Sunday at church! We are also called to do that each time there is a baptism and we renew our baptismal vows. The first question in the Baptismal Covenant is, "Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?" What is that question asking? Will you show up?! The answer is, "I will, with God's help."

We are called as God's family to show up, hear the stories of God's people, pray, be together and share in the Eucharist. We are also called to go out into the world and show God's love and respect the dignity of every human being. BUT, you don't just worship at church, you can worship at home with your family. There are simple and short services in the Book of Common Prayer for individuals or groups, Morning, Noon and Evening Prayer along with Compline for the end of the day. If your family doesn't have a Book of Common Prayer at home, I encourage you to get one and use it. There are many prayers in there, services, and the book of Psalms to read.

We, like most families share a meal together, too. The Eucharist is the Lord's Supper which he gave to us the night before he died as a way to remember him. We come to the family table to be fed and sustain life, and the same is true at church. When you gather for a meal at home, say a family blessing and give thanks to God for all they you have. At a meal, talk about what you are thankful for, what you need help with and whom can you hold in prayer.

Family Prayer
Dear God, we give thanks for our church family that gathers for worship and the Eucharist. God we know that you love us and feed us. Send us out into the world to show your love, feed others and respect all people. Help us to rejoice in you always, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen

May 7, 2017
The Church: One Body, Many Parts

Children in Sunday School are hearing stories from 1 Corinthians 12;4-31 and Ephesians 4:4-6 this week. In Corinthians, Paul writes about what it means to have different gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, but still be members of one body or community in Jesus Christ. We all have gifts given to us that work with other people's gifts, with all the parts of the human body working together. All parts and all people need each other, no one more important than another. The passage in Ephesians emphasizes the church as one body and spirit. The words to the Ephesians may sound familiar, as they are the opening sentences of a baptismal service.

These stories provide us an opportunity to talk about what our gifts and talents are, and how we use them. What are our roles in the family, at church, at school and in the community. What gifts do we appreciate in each other? Draw a body and have each person identify a part that they do well, such as, I am an ear because I listen well, or I am a foot because I am good at soccer.

The same is true at church about many members and one body. We are one body who worships at different times and in different spaces, but all at St Columba's and all part of the body of Christ. Just think about a worship service and all that goes into it–clergy, readers, lay Eucharistic ministers, people in the choirs, musicians, ushers, acolytes and sacristans, vergers, flower guild, altar guild, healing ministers and the people who come to worship. There is such a variety of ministries here at St. C's that we have to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. If you have a ministry, thank you. If you would like a ministry, let me or one of the clergy know.

We are all part of the body and St Columba's!

Family Prayer
Amazing God, thank you for the gifts we have, and help us to see how we are all wonderfully different, and how we need each other. Help us to be the hands and feet, eyes and ears, and heart of Christ in this world. Amen

Apr., 30, 2017
Resurrection Appearances

The Sunday School classes are focusing on resurrection appearances, as we remember that Easter is not just a day, but a season. We celebrate the great 50 days from Easter to Pentecost and hear about the empty tomb, disciples seeing Jesus in the upper room and on the beach, Thomas doubting until he can see to believe and Jesus walking with friends on the road to Emmaus.

It is important for us to take time to celebrate new life all around us, and ask ourselves, where do we see Jesus? It is hard to think about death, but I try to think about death in terms of new life. New Life, where there is no pain or suffering. That is what the women and disciples found as they went to the tomb and then encountered Jesus. God's love provides that new life. We see it in creation and we can see it in each other, if we take the time to look.

It is helpful to children to see the change in Jesus, but still Jesus. The best examples for children are a caterpillar going into a cocoon or chrysalis and coming out as a butterfly or a seed that is planted and then sprouts forth as a flower. It is the same and then becomes something even more amazing through the love God. Take time with your child or children to look for signs of new life, stop and smell the roses and give thanks for all that you have from God.

The other story is about Jesus walking with two people who don't recognize him. They are telling Jesus about the empty tomb and this amazing man. They finally recognized Jesus when he goes home with them for dinner and breaks bread at the table. I believe Christ is in each one of us, but do we see it in those we meet or even see every day? What if you ran into Jesus on the street today, would you recognize him, what would you say? What do you wish Jesus would say to you?

Family Prayer
Dear God, we give thanks for the gift of your love in the risen Lord and all the gifts you give us. Jesus, you meet us where we are and walk with us always. Help us to see the Christ in others and share your love int he world. Amen

Mar., 26, 2017
Zacchaeus and Jesus

Today's Sunday School lesson is about the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus. As Jesus comes into Jericho, a rich tax collector named Zacchaeus tries to take a look at Jesus, but the crowds get in his way and he is very short. Z runs ahead and climbs a tree so he can catch a glimpse of Jesus. When Jesus gets to the tree, he calls to Z to come down and Jesus invites himself to dinner at Z's house. Zacchaeus has a change of heart as he eats and talks with Jesus, promising to give half of his money and possessions to the poor and pay back those people he cheated as the tax collector. Jesus proclaims salvation to the house of Zacchaeus.

What would we change in our lives if we had a meal with Jesus? Many things in our lives do change when we invite Jesus in and hear what he is saying to us. Are we listening? Are we willing to change? How can we welcome others and/or invite people to our house for dinner and conversation. I have a friend who loves to invite people over for dinner, but the rule is no phones or devices at the table. You are there to talk and share in each other's company.

How do we express our gratitude for God and Jesus in our lives? How can we work to have salvation proclaimed on our house? Maybe your family can play a game at the dinner table, taking turns saying what you are grateful for today.

Family Prayer
Thank you God for sending us Jesus to teach us how to love. Thank you for giving us stories to learn more about Jesus and how we should be treating others. Help us to listen to you and be grateful for what we have and give thanks for your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Mar. 19, 2017
Stories about Choices: Two Ways to Live

Sunday School focuses this week on stories about choices. Jesus tells two parables about choices: the way we live and the way we treat others. The first story is about a rich man and Lazarus. The rich man passes by poor, sick Lazarus every day, paying him no mind and doing nothing to help him. When both men die, Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man to hell. The rich man begs for Lazarus to help him; and cleary the tide has turned. The second parable is about the arrogance of the righteous man praying so everyone would see him, and the sinner who goes to a corner to pray for God's forgiveness. Jesus tells us it is the sinner who goes home "justified" before God.

The last story the children hear this week is about Jesus being in Jerusalem, and shows the contrast between rich people giving offerings in the Temple and a poor widow who gives all that she has. It is the widow who has truly given the most, for she has given all she could give. God does not ask us to give everything we have, but to give in proportion to what we have been given. It is important to talk with children about money and to help them understand we spend some, we save some and we need to share some. How do we share what we have to the glory of God and in thanksgiving for all that we have?

It is important for children and adults alike to hear these parables about choices and think about who we are like in the stories. How do we treat others? How can we help people in need? Do we pray so that everyone sees us, or do we pray to ask God's forgiveness and to praise God? Maybe we, both children and adults, need to think about how we trust God.

Try to finish these sentences:
This week, I trusted God when ...
I find it hard to trust God when ...
I find it easy to trust God when ...
When I trust God I feel ...

Family Prayer
Gracious and loving God, thank you for loving us. Stay with us this week and guide us in all our daily work and play, helping us to love and serve you and other people. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen

Mar. 12, 2017
The Prodigal Son

This story is about a father and his two sons. The younger son takes his share of the father's inheritance and hits the road to have some fun and live it up. The older son stays and works for his father. The younger son lives it up, spending all his money on fine clothes, food and many other things. He then must sell things to pay his debt, and ends up working with pigs, yearning to be back home. He decides to go back home to hopefully get a job and see his father, wondering if his father would forgive him. The young man goes back home, is welcomed with open arms by his father and given a party to celebrate his return. The older brother is not as happy to see his brother, and feels put out that he got a party, which the older brother never got. The father explained that the younger son was lost, but now is back home. The father would do anything for either son, but was joyful that the son who was lost was now back.

Oh, family matters and sibling rivalry! Parents love their children, those that do the right things and those that stray a bit.

Have a family discussion about each person in the story, how they felt and reacted. Put yourself in each person's shoes and explore the feelings of each one. God does not play favorites, and loves the faithful and those who stray. It is important though to remember that the prodigal son does ask for forgiveness, as we need to do when we stray. How do you say your sorry in your family? How do you all show forgiveness? It is not always easy to forgive and then celebrate. God does, and may we this Lent, work on that in ourselves.

Family Prayer
God of love, you always want us to be with you. You always take us back when we lose our way. Be with us this week, helping us to do what you want us to do - to love you and others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Mar. 5, 2017
Lost and Found: Parables of Joyful Finding

All Sunday School classes hear two parables about things lost and found. The first story is about the lost sheep and the shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost. The other story is about a woman who loses a coin, and after much searching, finds the coin and is so joyful. Jesus tells these stories to help us understand the joy God has when we wander off and then come back to God. It is important for children and adults to remember that God never leaves us, we, on the other hand, sometimes wander off or get lost from God. When we find our way back, God rejoices.

The word we use in church is "repent," which means turn around. When we turn away from God, we must repent and turn back to God. Ask your child how they think God feels when we are apart from Him? How do we think God feels when we come back to Him?

One of my favorite books captures this lesson (as well as Psalm 139); the book is "The Runaway Bunny." This is a great book to read with your child, especially during Lent. The mother bunny, like God, will always be there to find us. You could also play a family game of hide and seek, like the lost sheep or hide a coin and let the search begin. I know when I lose something, I am happy when I find it. We all stray or at some point in our life may be apart from God. I hope this Lent we can all work to come closer to God, and rejoice as God rejoices with us.

Family Prayer
Dear God, you sent your son, Jesus Christ to be with us and show us your love. Help us to show our love for our family and friends, as you love us. Help us, when we stray or get lost and help remember you are always with us. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen

Feb. 26, 2017
Come to God's Table: Parables of Invitation and Welcome

All Sunday School classes hear parables Jesus told about invitation, welcome and hospitality. How timely for us at St. Columba's, as we welcome the refugee family and we host a benefit concert for our homeless ministries. Jesus uses the protocol of place seating at a banquet to teach lessons of humility and arrogance, thinking we might be better than someone else. Jesus then advises a dinner host not to invite his friends or rich neighbors but to welcome the poor, the sick and those who can't repay their host or return the invitation. Jesus then tells a parable about a host who gave a party and his friends all had excuses why they couldn't come, so he went out and invited the the poor, the sick and those in need.

It is important to talk with your children about not having to always be first in line or think they are better than others. It is hard to be last in line, but it is okay to be in last in line, sometimes. Who do you invite to your house and why? Are you welcoming? How are you welcomed in other places? Do you ever give excuses not to go somewhere? How does that make the host feel?

At St. Columba's the homeless are welcomed here at our Water Ministry program during the week. Men and women come to take showers, do their laundry and get a hot meal. Did you know that? Parishioners and neighbors give their time to cook and host these guests four days a week, in the 5th grade Sunday School class room.

Many of you have or will help the refugee family that has arrived and whom we are hosting in this country. Parishioners have gone to great lengths to make sure this family feels welcomed. We don't want to overwhelm them, but it is important for the stranger to feel like they have friends. We may come from different countries, have different languages, looks or beliefs, but we are all God's children. May we all practice the ministry of hospitality in our home, on the streets and at our church.

Family Prayer
Loving God, thank you for our time with you. We pray that you will bless our family and friends, as you bless all people. May we welcome and care for others as you care for us. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen

Feb. 19, 2017
Parables of the Growing Kingdom

The Sunday school classes all hear the parables of the mustard seed and yeast to show how God's kingdom can grow. The mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, but can grow into a large bush, and yeast is what makes dough rise and expand. What is inside us that can help to grow God's kingdom? When my sister was young, she received a necklace from her Godmother with a mustard seed inside a glass ball. She wore that necklace every day, and she knew that she had faith growing inside of her. I still remember that necklace and how important it was to my sister. What can we give our children, tangible or in word, that will help them to know they have the seeds of faith growing in them and how can help them share that faith?

The other parable the children hear is about the rich fool. The man that hoarded his money and possessions, not sharing with anyone and then finding out it will do him no good to have all this stuff when he dies. God's kingdom is not about having the most stuff or money, it's about what we do with what we have. How do we, as adults, model that for children? How do we share what we have to grow the kingdom of God?

Encourage your child or children and yourself to explore what you think the kingdom of God is like. Make up your own parable, the kingdom of God is like ______ because ______________. Explore God's creation with your children and look for small things that become big, or just look at your child and how they are growing. Are they growing in faith? Bake some bread so children can see yeast in action or have flat bread and bread with yeast to see the difference.

It is almost time to do some planting outside and you can talk about little seeds becoming big beautiful flowers. How do you care for the seeds? How does God care for what is planted? Are you planting seeds of faith? I can best describe my job as being the Johnny Appleseed of church work. I plant seeds of faith in children, as best I can, through Sunday School, Storytime, Great Hall services and just talking with children. Then, I pray for God to nurture those seeds, and sometimes people move on or I do, but when I am blessed to watch those seeds grow, I know I have done my job to grow the kingdom of God. I hope you will join me in sowing seeds of faith!

Family Prayer
Dear God, we thank you for being with us today and every day. Help us to love and serve you with all our hearts and to love everybody around us. Help us to grow in faith and grow your kingdom. We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen

Feb. 12, 2017

This week in Sunday School, our children learn about prayer, the different types of prayer and the Lord's Prayer. The classes explore prayer in words, art, music and silence. The children hear how Jesus taught his friends to pray. The disciples wanted to know how to pray, and Jesus taught them words that we now know as the Lord's Prayer. Many classes learned about the five types of prayer using their hands to learn about prayers as praise, thanksgiving, intercession, confession and petition.

My family prayed at meals, saying a family grace, and my dad said prayers with me every evening. My dad told me praying was just talking with God, and it meant a lot that I got to hear what was on his heart and mind in his prayers. You can use books for prayers or pray using your own words. It is important for parents to model this for their children. If you want a great and easy read about prayer, I strongly recommend Margaret Guenther's book, "The Practice of Prayer."

I encourage families to say a grace at meal time and prayers at the end of the day. You can use the Book of Common Prayer which contains a variety of prayers, and if you don't have one, get one for the home. You can write family prayers, say the Lord's Prayer together, and put a simple prayer in your child's lunchbox, on their door or in their room. You can pray with words, in art, by singing or in silence. You can pray anywhere, any time and in any way. God is always listening.

Family Prayer
Loving God, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ to be with us and show us your love for us. Help us to love our family and others as you love us. Help us to keep talking with you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Feb. 5, 2017
The Good Samaritan

This week in Sunday School, the children hear the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a rather timely story to hear with what is going on in our country and around the world. A man comes to Jesus and asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responds, "Love your neighbor as yourself" and the man then asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus then tells him the story of the Good Samaritan.

Who is your neighbor? Is it just the person next door? Could it be a person just coming into this country? The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us that it's the people you would most expect to help someone in need, who walk right on by, and it's the stranger from another land who helps the man in need. It is not always easy to love our neighbors, but Jesus calls us to love them as much as we love ourselves. It is not always easy to follow Jesus, but we must try, because we are the hands, feet and heart of Christ on earth.

A couple of years ago, I was out walking my dog, Captain one morning. He saw a squirrel and took off after it, pulling me along, as we were attached by the leash. The squirrel darted around towards a tree and Captain followed, as did I, right over Captain tripping and twisting my ankle pretty badly. I laid on the ground with Captain looking over me, when I saw a woman walking up the street to go to work. I asked her if she could help me up, or hold my dog while I tried to get up, and she walked right by saying nothing. I was shocked! Where was my good Samaritan? I got up and hobbled home, iced my ankle and realized how the man in our story must have felt after people passed him by.

It can by a tricky situation with children, we want to help people and stay safe. This may be an opportunity to talk about who we help and why. We can't help everyone, but we must help who we can. Talk with your children about your neighbors, close by and far away. How can we love our neighbors as ourselves? If nothing else, we can always pray for people in need and our neighbors.

Family Prayer
God of all people, you created us in your image and tell us to love each other. Help us to do this with our family, our friends and everyone else, as we are all part of your family. Amen

Jan. 29, 2017
The Ministry of Jesus

Our children are learning about the ministry of Jesus and it was not a ministry Jesus did on his own. Jesus sends out 70 to go to places Jesus intends to go. These 70 are asked to spread the message of the kingdom of God and heal the sick. Jesus tells them to "Take nothing with you, and when you go into a house say 'Peace to this house.'" If they don't welcome you, move on.

Jesus needs our help with his ministry today and every day. How can we share the message of God's love? We all have ministries, they may be in the home, at school, at church or in the world. What is your ministry? Name it and claim it, and let your children know they have a ministry, too. They may help someone at school, care for a pet at home, sing in a choir, acolyte or usher at church. Take time to have a family chat about ministry: who does what or if there is something new you can do!

The other story shared with our children was about Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus. Jesus goes to their house for a visit and a meal. Martha is a busy cleaning, cooking, and setting the table while her sister, Mary does nothing except listen to Jesus. Martha gets frustrated with her sister, and even asks Jesus to tell Mary to help out. Jesus invites Martha to stop doing and listen to him. This is an important story for all of us to hear over and over. We can spend so much time doing, we don't spend time just being, being quiet and listening to the voice of God.

We all have things to do and there is nothing wrong with doing, Jesus asks us to share in his ministry. Jesus also asks us to be still and listen to God. Adults and children need to find this balance. We can be addicted to our electronic devices and screens. Sometimes each child of God, young and old, needs some quiet time to hear what God is calling us to do and who God is calling us to be. Try having a minute of quiet and give the children something to focus on. After everyone is still for a minute, share where you saw God today or what your heard God saying to you.

Family Prayer
Loving God, thank you for your promise that we are your people and that you love us always. Be with us this week and help us to help others, we pray, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Jan. 22, 2017
Jesus Heals

Today's lesson in Sunday School was about Jesus healing people. One of the stories the children heard was about Jairus begging Jesus to heal his daughter. On the way to his house, Jesus realizes someone has touched him. A woman who had been suffering for 12 years comes forward, now healed. Jesus says to her, "Your faith has made you well, go in peace."

God and Jesus heal not only physical needs but all our needs. There are times when the healing comes, not in the way we ask for it, but in the healing we need. Each one of us can ask for God's healing in mind, body and spirit. We can also ask for God's healing for others we know who are sick or suffering. There is power and healing in prayer. The three-year-old through 1st grade classes had a healing minister come to their class to talk about healing prayers. The 2nd through 5th grade classes took a field trip to the chapel where our healing ministers meet people asking for prayers.

Did you know that the wrapper contains names of people asking for prayers for healing each week. I encourage you to take the wrapper home and pray for those in our community and those known to God who are need of healing. It is powerful to know this community is praying for you when you are sick, suffering or facing surgery. We all take great comfort in how this church holds us in prayer when needed.

Who do you know who is sick and needs prayer? Your child can write a person's name on a bandaid to remind them to prayer for someone's healing. Is there a friend or neighbor recovering from an illness who might need a meal or chores done? How can you help? If someone you know is sick, facing surgery or has something else going on in their lives for which they need prayer, ask them if you and St. Columba's can for pray for them. Contact Pattie Ames or Anona Fowler to put someone on the church prayer list. There are prayers for the sick in the Book of Common Prayer on pages 458-461.

Family Prayer
Dear God, we thank you for your healing power and we ask your blessing on all those who are sick or suffering in any way. May your healing touch be upon each of us in this family, just as Jesus touched and healed many. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen

Jan. 15, 2017
Love and Forgiveness

Today's Sunday School story is about Jesus going to Simon's house for dinner. A woman, a sinner, comes to Jesus seeking forgiveness for her sins; she anoints or washes his feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. Simon, the host who did not go out of his way to show hospitality to Jesus, rebukes the woman for coming to Jesus, saying she is a sinner. Guess what? We all are sinners! Jesus says she shows her love for Him by using what she had to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus loves all, all us sinners, and forgives all our sins. It is important to teach our children to say they are sorry, not just to the person they hurt, but to God, too. It is also important to remind children they are always loved, but when we make bad choices and do something wrong or hurt someone, we must say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness.

Try to focus on the positive and think about what big or small acts of love we can share with our family, friends and those we don't even know. This world needs a lot more love right now, and how can we be the hands of Christ in the world to show and share that love? It may be a kind word or deed, the giving of a smile or hug, or thanking someone for something they did for us. Maybe your family can make "I Love You" cards and "I'm Sorry" cards to use at home to help us. Saying the words are better, but this maybe a place to start.

Family Prayer
Gracious and loving God, you show us how to love one another and how to say sorry when we have done something we should not have done. Help us to be like the woman who came to Jesus to ask for forgiveness. Guide us this week to love and serve you. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen

Jan., 8, 2017
The Baptism of Jesus

This Sunday we hear the lesson of the Baptism of our Lord and the children also focus on this story in their Sunday School classes. We love the story of Jesus' baptism for several reasons. It is important for Jesus to be baptized and he seeks out his cousin, John to do it. When John says, "Oh no, I can't do this," Jesus says, "Yes, baptize me." Jesus was baptized just like us, well almost. While Jesus was in the Jordan river, many of us just got a little bit of water on our heads. This detail is not as important as all of us being part of God's family.

After Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened up and Jesus heard God call him "his beloved." All children should hear this! We are all God's beloved and part of God's family. This is a good time to remind your child or children of that. Tell them about their baptism, who was there and make sure they are connected to their godparents. If you are interested in baptism for your child, please contact Pattie Ames who oversees the logistics for baptisms.

Nov. 20, 2016

My mother used to say to me, "I wish I had the patience of Job!" I did not understand that statement until much later when I learned about the story of Job in the Old Testament. Job was a good and righteous man, he was also rich, had a good family and many servants. Satan or the devil complains to God that Job is only good and loves God because he rich. God allows Satan to bring misfortune to Job to test his faithfulness. To be honest, I am not sure why God did this. Job loses everything, and I mean everything, and yet Job says, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Job has patience and more importantly, Job has faith, even in despair. This is a lesson for us all right now, I believe. We must keep the faith, even in the hardest of times. God is always with us and we must stay with God, listening to what God is calling us to in our lives. There are times, maybe even right now, when we and our children are asking, "Where is is God in this troubled world or in our troubled lives?" Job does question why these things are happening in his life: "I didn't do anything to deserve this, did I?"

We are responsible for our own choices. No matter what happens to us, we must remember, God is right there with us and we find our strength in God. Our faith may be shaken, but God's love is always there, and we must keep the faith and our trust in God.

So, it might time to have a family discussion about how you deal with bad things or event in your lives. I encourage you to pray as a family, hold up your concerns, pray for those in need and celebrate those things which you are thankful for. It is important for children to hear parents praying and what is in their heart and mind. Remember, prayer is just talking with God and you can use prayers in the Book of Common Prayer or ask me for other resources.

The other thing to consider as a family is how do you respond when something like a disaster happens; how can you help those in need? You can donate to an organization that is providing relief; I suggest the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund among others. You can pray or you can take action to give in some other way. When we have the patience and faith of Job, we can not only help ourselves through bad times, but we can help and support others, too.

Family Prayer
Almighty and merciful God, you love us and take care of us even when we don't know you are there. Help us to trust in you and not blame you when bad things happen, and remember you are always with us and love us. In Christ's name we pray. Amen

Nov., 13, 2016

This week in Sunday School our children learned about stories of David in the Old Testament: as a shepherd; fighting Goliath; as friends with Jonathan; helping Abigail; writing psalms, and as a king. There are so many rich stories about the life and ministry of David in scripture, and some we did not share with the children. David's life at times was like a Lifetime special.

All classes focused on on the theme of friendship. Who are our friends and why? What makes a friendship strong? Can you tell your child about a friend of yours and why that person is special in your life? Is there a friend with whom you have lost touch and maybe want to reconnect with? Tell your stories, write about your friends or better yet, write a friend a note or message them.

It is important these days that we have our friends and stick up for friends who might be bullied, or treated poorly due to the color of their skin, their religious background or where they are from. A good friend is always there for a friend in need, and sometimes that is hard, but we are called to follow Jesus and be there for our friends and even those we don't know.

Maybe this is a good time to write a friend a thank you note for all they have done for you.

Family Prayer
Dear God, you care for us and our friends, just as David and Jesus did. Help us to love you and all those we meet, not just our friends. Help us remember, we are all part of your family. Amen

Nov., 6, 2016
All Saints

This Sunday, we celebrate All Saints Day and remember those saints who have gone before us. We also remember loved ones who have died, and the impact they had on our lives. Children in Sunday School learned that we are saints trying to do what Jesus would have us to do: loving our neighbors, caring for others and creation, and giving something back in loving response to all that God has given us.

The children heard stories about Columba, Patrick, Mary, Michael and other arch angels, Margaret of Scotland, John Donne and modern saints like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa. It is important to hear these stories about those who serve God and God's people. It is also important to tell stories about those saints who have touched our lives and our ministries.

I am convinced I have this ministry because of my mother, Rev. Francis Burke, Cooper Dawson, Rev. John Jordan, the Rt. Rev. Jane Dixon, Verna Dozier and Roberto Clemente. These are my saints whom I see no longer, but are with me every day in ministry to and with our children. My mom volunteered at a children's hospital making sure families were taken care of when their child faced surgery or illness. Francis Burke was the priest I knew and he knew me well enough to talk about God and Jesus in baseball terms. Cooper Dawson was the director of the summer camp I went to and instilled in every person there such important values such as faith, friendship, respect, love of creation and fun. John Jordan and Jane Dixon helped me learn more about serving others, and Verna Dozier taught me the importance of the ministry of the laity. Roberto Clemente taught me that any time you can make a difference, do so.

Who are the saints in your life? Have you told your children about these people? Share their stories and yours, and listen to the stories your children have. Be on the look out for saints, you will find them any and everywhere, just like the songs says, and I mean to be one too!

They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, on the street, in the store,
in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
and I mean to be one too.
From the hymn, "I Sing a Song of the Saint of God," 1982 hymnal

Sun., Oct. 30, 2016
The Call of Samuel

The call of Samuel is one of my favorite stories in the Bible because God calls a child. We are all called by God into ministry and to live out our Baptismal Covenant. Children are called by God, and they are in ministry here at St. Columba's as choiristers, bell ringers, acolytes, ushers and Great Hall crucifers. There are teenagers serving as sacristans and they serve from 7 am until 12:30 pm or later on Sundays.

The Bible story is about Hannah wanting a child. She prayed and prayed, and then she had Samuel. With such gratitude, she brought Samuel to Eli at the synagogue to serve God. Samuel is called by God, but not knowing it was God calling, he goes to Eli. After the third time, Eli realizes it is God calling Samuel and tells Samuel to say, "Here I am Lord." Samuel serves God and God's people.

We all need quiet time, both children and adults to listen for God and to God. What is God calling you to do? Where do you see God and do you Christ in others. How do we seek and serve Christ in others, loving our neighbors, as ourselves?

Have you ever been give such a precious gift and filled with such joy? How did you say thank you? The story of Hannah and Samuel is also a story of Stewardship. How do we thank God for all that we have been given and how do we give back?

I can only speak for myself when I say how grateful I am for my family, friends, my dog and St. Columba's, but first and foremost filled with gratitude and awe for God's love for me. It is a privilege and gift to serve God at St. Columba's, and that is why I pledge to give back to the mission and ministry of our church. I hope you will join me in making a stewardship pledge and sharing what you are grateful for in your life. Thank you and God bless you and your family!

Sun., Oct. 16, 2016

This week all Sunday School classes learned about Jacob. He stole Esau's birthright and then, through deception, stole the blessing that their father Isaac meant for Esau. Jacob then ran away to escape his brother's wrath. Just your typical sibling rivalry story, plus a little bit more. Years later, Jacob was going to meet with Esau and make peace. The night before the meeting Jacob wrestles with an angel, who then blesses him and gives him a new name, Israel.

This story presents a way to talk about family conflict and resolution. You may ask which character do you feel most like, Jacob or Easu? Why was Jacob afraid to come back? Help children learn to use "I" statements such as, "I felt __________ when you _________." Can you come up with other ways to resolve issues or conflicts? What does it mean to forgive or to say your sorry. We all need to be reminded that when we hurt someone else or take what is theirs, we must say we're sorry to them and to God. We all have to own our wrongdoings, say we are sorry and then let go of it.

Family Prayer
Dear God, you give us angels that meet us on our journey. You forgive us when we do wrong, when we hurt others and when we hurt you. Help us to remember to to say we're sorry and thank you for loving us, even we we do something wrong. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen

Sun., Oct. 9, 2016
Abraham and Sarah

Abraham and Sarah find out all things are possible with God. Abraham and Sarah were old and had no children, then the unexpected happened. Three angels came to Abraham and he offered them food and rest. He wanted to feed them and offer the gift of hospitality. The visitors told Abraham that Sarah would have a son, she was outside of the tent, heard this and broke out into laughter. She thought, "How can I, this old woman, have a son?" God heard Sarah laughing and said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh? Is anything too hard for God?"

What does it mean to offer hospitality? How can you, as a family, offer hospitality to others?

Who are we asked to share food with? Does your family bring a can food item or non-perishable to put in the Samaritan Ministry food basket in the Great Hall or Church Nave to help feed the hungry? It is a great gift to share.

Our story talks about angels coming to visit. Ask your children about angels. What do they look like? Have you ever seen one? I believe there are angels all around us. Do we take the time to look for them? Do we help them? Are we an angel for others?

Family Prayer
Gracious God, whom all the angels adore, we thank you for this story of Abraham and Sarah. Help us to find the angels in people around us. Help us to offer hospitality to others and share with those in need. Thank you for our family and friends. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen

Sun., Oct. 2, 2016
Noah's Ark - An Important Journey

Noah's Ark, that story again? That is what a child said to me last week when he asked what the next lesson was. He told me he had heard that story seven times before, and he didn't need to hear it again. I shared my thoughts that rereading stories was important because you hear something different each time you read or hear the story. He agreed to give it a try.

I encourage you and your family to hear the story again. Why did God call on Noah to build the ark? Noah was faithful, he followed and listened to God. Do we take time to listen to God? How do we follow God? Can you imagine what the neighbors thought when Noah and his sons built this huge ark on a sunny day and animals started boarding? Can you imagine what they thought when the rain came and came? Can you imagine being on that ark for 40 days with all those animals? Can you imagine the face of Noah when he saw the rainbow and heard God speaking? Can you imagine what it would be like to follow God like Noah did?

Have your family write a "Family Covenant." Consider what it means to be a family and what promises you make to one another. What part do parents play in the family and what part do the children play? Do you have pets, and who cares for them? What can each person do to strengthen the family? What could be a symbol of your family's covenant and promises?

Family Prayer
Almighty God, you watched over Noah and his family as they tossed in the boat during the rain. Please keep watch over our family and keep us safe. Bless us with your love and care, as we learn to love and serve you, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Sun., Sept. 25, 2016
Creation and Sabbath

Today in Sunday School all the classes continued to focus on Creation learning about days 5-7. The creation of animals, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and God resting were discussed. Children love animals, whether it is their own pet or animals at the zoo. We all have our favorite kind of animals, and it is amazing to me all the different kind of animals there are. We are also asked by God to care for creation and all that is in it. God created humans and said we are very good, created in God's image, all shapes, sizes and color, and God says we are very good. It is vital to remind children and ourselves that God loves everyone and we are all created in God's image.

As many of you know, I have a dog, Captain. He is rescue dog I adopted 9 years ago this week. I always say, I am not sure who rescued who. It is a lot of work to care for any pet, but the love you receive in return is awesome. It is so nice to have to Captain greet me at the door when I return home and all his unconditional love. It is a great reminder of God's unconditional love, even when we have a bad day, God is there for us and loves us no matter what. Some people say that is why God spelled backwards is dog, a reflection of God's love.

I encourage you and your family to take a trip to the zoo and explore some of the animals God created. If you have a pet, bring it to the Blessing of the Animals service on Sun., Oct. 2 at 5 pm for our Blessing of the Animals in the courtyard. If your child doesn't have have pet come and bring a stuffed animal. We remember St Francis and love and care for God's creation and especially animals.

The other important part of the Creation story is that on the seventh day God rested. Sabbath, resting or quiet time is something we don't take much of, but what we need in our lives to be balanced. I encourage families to take some quiet time, turn off the screens for just a few minutes and be still and look and listen for God.

Family Prayer
Loving God, we give you thanks for creation and our own lives. Thank you for giving us Sundays as our special time to worship you and help us to take time for Sabbath. Help us to love everyone, they way you love us. All this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen

Sun., Sept. 18, 2016
In The Beginning

Sunday School begins this Sun., Sept. 18 and it is a time to connect and reconnect. It is a time for the children to connect with stories about God's people and what those stories mean in their lives. It is also a time for children to connect and reconnect with other children.The teachers are taking time in each class to have the children get to know each other, since they come from several different schools and neighborhoods. It is also helpful for the teachers to get to know the children, more than just their name.

We begin our program year at the beginning with the story of creation. The children will focus on the first four days of creation this week, as they hear about God creating the world; land and sea, sun, moon and stars along with all the plant life. This is our beautiful home, how do we keep it that way? When God created these things, then it was good. How do we keep it good and holy?

I encourage you to talk about creation at home or take a creation walk. Ask your child and yourself to use your senses to experience this world and our small part of it. Try sitting outside, being quiet and then talking about what you see, hear and smell. Touch the grass, plants and reach for the clouds and stars. Have a special meal and taste all that is good that comes from the earth. Ask your child what are some of their favorite parts of this world and creation, and talk about how we can all care for this gift that we have been given.

Family Prayer
Loving God, you promise that we are your children and will always belong to you. Thank you for this world that you have made. We give thanks for the land and water, the sun, moon and stars and all plant life. Help us to take care of this world, the way you take care of us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

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Photo: Jay Treadwell

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