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Activities for children, infants-5th grade
Activities for students, 6th-12th grade
Partnering with you in your child's formation
We have some pretty amazing fourth and fifth grade students!
We took this energetic group of kids on retreat this weekend and had so much fun. They learned how God's place is at the center of their lives; He has a purpose for them and gives them peace in anxious times. We worshipped and prayed. We learned from each other during small group times.
I watched students as they stepped out of their comfort zones and tried new things on our outdoor adventures. They connected with each other and laughed. They had sheepish grins when we put an end to a very fun mud fight. All this without one minute of screen time on the weekend retreat.
God is good and I am thankful for our time with them. I pray that our students feel loved by their church family and supported by the wonderful volunteer parents who led them.
Visit our Children's Ministry private Facebook page for more pictures from the GAP45 Retreat »
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Can I just share that I love it when I get to have one-on-one time with your kiddos on Sunday mornings?—even if it's because we are addressing a problem together!
Here is why…and it happens every time: God shows up.
Yesterday one of our younger students was having a hard time in Sunday School class so his teacher brought him to me. I start digging into the issue, and I pray. This little guy is young enough to be boldly honest about his feelings. He didn’t want to be at church because he wanted to stay home and play Xbox. Hence the resistance and challenging attitude to his teachers in class, which brought him to me.
But here is the beautiful part: We had an amazing conversation about God. This boy opened up and shared some stories of healing in his family and I got to help him see how that was God’s hand. God let me remind him that He is always with him. That we come to church to worship Him and give Him thanks for these very instances. That we are his church family and we are all here to support him and help teach him, including his wonderful Sunday School teachers. That it is okay to ask questions because we are seeking Him. That it is okay to talk about his conflicting desires on a Sunday morning because God is big enough.
He let me pray over him before returning to class. As I walked away I hoped that he felt God’s love in this place. I am thankful for his family who brings him here so he can continue to grow in his faith.
And I learned about myself too. I was reminded of how much I sometimes desire what the world has to offer instead of turning to Him first. Approval, fulfillment, affirmation.
"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:6-7
It happens at this time every year – at least for the last 36. I am moved to thanks and reflection on God’s enormous grace in bringing my wife, Cinde, into my life and then, as Jesus Himself said, joining us together as one (Mark 10:8, 9). On May 31, 1980, we established a covenant through which God forged a union. I wish I could say that it has been 36 years of unfailing marital bliss; but I am not that easy to live with! I have been known to quip that it’s a minor miracle that Cinde has put up with me all these years. It’s really not a joke, though; we have each recognized our dependence on a constant infusion of God’s love in order to live in a fashion that is consistent with the oneness that God created at our wedding. Perhaps coincidentally, for the last several years the Circle of Two marriage class has occurred almost simultaneously with our anniversary—as it did last weekend. Maybe that’s not the dream many would have for a romantic anniversary. But, taking that time to review our own priorities while building into the lives of other couples has indeed been a blessing for us. Based on the evidence of Scripture, marriage is supremely valued by God. He established it at the very beginning of creation (Gen. 1 & 2). The Bible also ends with a wedding – Jesus as the groom, and we, the Church, as the bride (Rev. 19:6-9, 21:1-22:21). The prophets of the Old Testament often refer to God’s relationship with his people in marital terms. And, it is significant that Jesus’s first miracle takes place at a wedding (John 2:1-11). The list could go on. But the point of it all is that God takes marriage very seriously. It is intricately tied up with His cosmic plan. It is representative of His desire for us to live in community. And it is even designed to reveal truths about Himself: our Triune God Who is an eternal community of love. I encourage you to mark your calendar now for a marriage seminar that Christ Church will offer next fall, October 28 & 29. Bishop Steve and Sally Breedlove will lead us in an examination of marriage and enrich our understanding of God’s design. I hope you’ll avail yourself of the wisdom they have to share and save the date.
As a people created in the image of God, the life that we have on earth is animated by God’s Spirit and purposes. Starting in the Garden of Eden, God has entrusted us to show his love and character in the world and care for his creation. Christians have always been ones to stand up for life, whether that of an unborn child, innocent parties caught in violent conflicts, or those who continue to be enslaved today through human trafficking. Loss of life is always to be grieved. As Paul reminds us in his magisterial passage on the resurrection of Christ and those who have died in him, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”
(1 Corinthians 15:26).
On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember those soldiers that have died in service of this country. From a historical perspective, Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day, an opportunity to remember Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. To remember those that have died to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy is quite sobering. It is important for us to grieve with the families of soldiers, and acknowledge the struggles soldiers have endured during times of conflict.
Perhaps an important way to remember our soldiers is by counting the cost of war, as any loss of life, no matter which side of the battlefield, is tragic. These men and women did not die so that war would continue and grow, but that we might strive after peace instead. In Isaiah 2:4, we are given a picture of how God will act in the last days:
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
I’ve included two prayers from the Book of Common Prayer: one that remembers those who have died in military service, and one which reminds us of the peaceful vision of the future that God gave Isaiah in a world often at war.
A Prayer for Memorial Day. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give you thanks for all those your servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them your mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which you have begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Peace Among Nations. Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
After church yesterday I had supper with some friends, and their kids had made Pentecost flames out of red birthday party hats and were toting them around the restaurant. "And you shall be my witnesses in Judea, and in all local pubs, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth..." or something like that. Genius.
As Bishop Todd Hunter reminded us in the Confirmation service on Saturday, that's why the church has the Holy Spirit: to be creative, lively, joyful witnesses for the God we know. It's not a few "charistmatic" Christians who have this calling, either. We're all being invited, encouraged, called just past what we're used to, what we're quite comfortable with, to be "changed from glory to glory."
Where might you be feeling encouragement to pursue God afresh? Could it be something as simple as, so to speak, wearing a different hat?
Watch out below for summer events and programs that seek to explore this question. We're heading out to camp, helping with VBS, discerning a service project, and studying the books of Acts and Jonah. We'll be asking all summer, "Where is God calling you?" Pray for our staff as we ask that question with students, and as we ask it of ourselves!
Congrats to the Confirmands and Father Taylor! This past weekend, along with over thirty adult confirmands, we watched eight students renew their baptismal vows in a service of Confirmation and Ordination. We also saw Deacon Taylor become Father Taylor! What a blessing to have these servants of the church as a part of Student Ministry. Bishop Todd Hunter preached a challenging sermon on the work and presence of the Holy Spirit, then blessed each student by name, asking God to fill them with his love and power. Later we celebrated together with friends and family in the fellowship hall. It was quite a crowd, and truly a celebration. Before being confirmed, students presented thesis projects that described crucial parts of their spiritual journey, and where they hoped to grow. Projects included: community service, a stained glass window design, a comic book retelling of a parable, a spiritual autobiography, and an original song. Students expressed desires to grow in devotional practices, integrity, community, dependence on God, and mercy toward others. Please congratulate these students when you see them, and encourage them in their new stage of Christian life.
This weekend is such a great weekend at Christ Church. We welcomed our bishop, Todd Hunter, on Saturday evening for a bumper crop of candidates for Confirmation. They are men and women, including some young teens, all of whom have made the effort to study the Anglican Way of Christianity and to affirm their faith and intention to live a life of committed discipleship. Hurray for them—over 50 of them! In addition, our own Taylor Ishii and Gary Barnes were ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests. This is the fulfillment of a call that they have felt God place on their lives. Taylor’s call came to him young—he is 29! We can look forward to his ministry at Christ Church and in the church at large for decades. Gary is, shall we say, not 29. His call to the priesthood occurred later in life. But both have been through the rigors of seminary and theological education; they have been approved and passed on by numerous committees and commissions. Their ordination was a great day for them and we celebrate it. (You might know also that Taylor is engaged to be married in August to Hillary Stephens. What a great couple they make!) This same weekend, we welcome our Rector-elect back to Christ Church as guest preacher. It is a joy to receive him again. In addition, and as a special honor, Monika and their four beautiful daughters are here with us, too. Please give them a warm Christ Church welcome. These huge events occur on a momentous weekend: Pentecost. As you will hear in every message this time of year, the Feast of Pentecost is when God the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to empower them for the work of the ministry that Jesus had called them to undertake. Without the Holy Spirit, we are just spinning wheels; the Church goes nowhere. How fitting then that we pray for the 50+ confirmands, your two new priests, and your new Rector-elect, Fr. Paul, that they would be filled to fullness with the power and strength of God the Holy Spirit.
This weekend we welcome our Rector-elect back to Christ Church as guest preacher. It is a joy to receive him again.
As a special honor, Monika and their four beautiful daughters will be here, too. Please give them all a warm Christ Church welcome. In addition to Sunday, we invite you join us on Saturday evening to witness the confirmation and ordination of many people in our parish. Our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter, will confirm over 50 men and women, including some young teens, all of whom have made the effort to study the Anglican Way of Christianity and affirm their faith and intention to live a life of committed discipleship.
These events occur on a momentous weekend: Pentecost. As you will hear in every message this time of year, the Feast of Pentecost is when God the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to empower them for the ministry that Jesus had called them to undertake. Without the Holy Spirit, we are just spinning wheels; the Church goes nowhere.
How fitting, then, that we join in prayer for the 50+ confirmands, your new priests, and your Rector-elect, Fr. Paul, that they all would be filled with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.
It’s the home stretch. We are rushing across the finish line! I read an article published a couple of years ago by an author who acknowledges the differences between the beginning of the school year—fresh with energy, passions, and organization—and the last weeks of the school year where we as parents are DONE. With humor she pokes fun at the half-finished projects in her children’s backpacks, the unread newsletters that are piling up (gold stars for those of you reading this one), and the drastic difference in paying attention to details such as packing healthy lunches, etc. Remember last September when we wrote little notes and put them in their lunches? Remember how we helped them lay out their clothes each night, signed all their folders and reading logs? It has been a busy and very full year and we are ready for a change of pace. We are tired; our kids are tired; we are ready for a new rhythm. Return to Him and He will return to us (Zechariah 1:3). God promises a renewal of our relationship. Seek a relationship with Him in the midst of the swirling demands of our lives. Model this for your children. He will give you rest; He will give you peace. What an amazing gift for us as parents, and for our children. I know I need it, and so does my child.
In my recent missions-related travel to east Africa and Central America, one of the things that struck me was this: In the midst of cultures that are quite different from ours here in the US, certain human traits are universal, chief among these being the love and care mothers have for their children. Mothers everywhere, it seems, will take whatever measures they can to assure the well-being of their children, and often with great personal sacrifice.
Cinde and I had a chance to visit SAMS missionaries in Uganda and Ethiopia and, later, Compassion International mission projects hosted by Nicaraguan churches. These ministries work among those living in extreme poverty, where they express the love of God through holistic relief and development in the form of health and nutritional training. Mothers, I found, are deeply impacted by this training – they are “hungry” for any guidance that will help them raise their children with a hope for a better tomorrow.
These transformational outreach efforts are practical demonstrations of the love these Christian workers have for mothers and children, and ultimately create a bridge for the communication of God’s redeeming love in His Son. We heard of an impoverished mother, being served by a Christian ministry, who said, “I didn’t know that Jesus loved me until He fed my children.” Scripture makes it clear that when Jesus touches our lives with His love, the Holy Spirit will transform us and, indeed, love the world through us. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Acts 1:8.) Ask Him to help you be the tangible love of Jesus in this world and to increase your experience of His grace and love so that you can, in turn, share it with others.
On this Mother’s Day, let us thank God for His gift of love, in particular the gift of a mother’s love. Jesus Himself found that image of maternal love to be a very powerful metaphor to describe His care for us: “ How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings… ” Matthew 23:37
I can barely believe it, but the school year is quickly drawing to a close. As the wave of summer is about to crest, we are excited to help your students stay engaged both relationally and spiritually over the hot summer season. In a season that can be busy and stressful, I am praying for peace and continued trust in God's faithfulness to us, myself included! For 8th and 12th grade students, we want to help you to be prepared for the next stage of life. Be sure to check out some special events to help with these transitions. Finally, I would covet your prayers for me. I am in my own season of major life transitions between ordination to the priesthood and an end of summer wedding. (Details to come soon; I want to invite you all!) I have been so blessed by our community of students and their families and am eager to walk alongside you. I may become both a priest and husband in the coming months, but my role as Student Minister will still be constant.