Preparing for the Journey

On a Wednesday evening, once every month or so, families come together for Messy Church: we play and draw, eat together, tell stories, and talk together about what our God is up to in the world. We usually reflect on how to take our spiritual practices home into our everyday life.

Frankly, it feels really special to explore our spirituality together as a whole family and whole church community.

In March, however, we tried something new.

During our evening program, we talked about the season where Jesus journeys all the way to Good Friday and Easter. We thought about how to prepare for that journey and, from that wondering, we crafted an Ash Wednesday worship service. As small groups, we wrote the words, starting with “Holy God, you who are _________” (how would you fill in that blank?), and created the materials (basins to remember our Baptism & cups and jugs to celebrate Communion). As evening fell, we made our way up to the sanctuary, and led the service for the congregation.

It was quiet and beautiful and sort of perfect.

As we make the journey through Lent, let’s remember the preparations that the families of our church have sent us out with:

Loving God, you who are in our hearts and in our homes, gather us up into your arms.

Holy God, make these ashes sacred. Just like the kitties, dolphins and owls, and the orchids, aloe vera and tulips, these ashes are a part of your beautiful creation. We have seen spring-time, and know that – while everything alive will die – from death comes new life. 

Renew us, so that we can be your hands and your feet.

We have been called to God’s table, in God’s house, as a part of God’s family. This invitation means that we are never alone.

Amen.

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The Things You Don’t Learn At School

Over the last few months, Spirit Space has been a busy and flourishing place. We’ve been learning about good values, social justice and spirituality – the things that we don’t always have the chance to really explore at school.

At the beginning of November, we welcomed three new staff – Lindsay, Bert and Daniel – and they’ve been happily settling in. When they’re not in Spirit Space, Lindsay is studying therapeutic recreation and Bert is an educational assistant. Daniel is the new Minister of Children and Youth at Fairlawn.

We also spent a fair amount of November talking about the New Creed of the United Church. The Spirit Space Dream Team sent care-packages to college and university students who were away from home as a way of articulating the message from the creed – ‘We are not alone.’ They created a video of their work, which you can watch here. Meanwhile, in the Main Room, we explored mixing watercolour and salt, planted grass-seed, met leaders from the church, and role-played responses to bullying.

At the beginning of December, we hosted over a hundred people at the Bethlehem Market – an immersive experience of ancient Bethlehem. Throughout December and January, we explored Advent and Epiphany, telling the stories of hope about who Jesus might be & then telling the best stories from his early life. We had two Messy Churches – at the beginning of Advent, we made Wreathes and Reverse Advent Calendars & got excited about Christmas, and in January, we made Lanterns as a representation of God’s empathic love and Jesus as ‘God With Us.’

Now we’re looking forward! We’d love to know what you’d like to learn about or do in the next few months.

Blessings

How are you blessed? How are you a blessing to others?

Spirit Space is off to a wonderful start to the year with a focus on “blessings”.  We are describing blessings as “acts of special kindness that help us to remember God’s love.” This is a great theme for the autumn season – the time when we experience the blessing of renewed friendships at school and at church after the summer apart – the time when we experience the blessing of being together for community events like the “Welcome Back BBQ” and family gatherings like Thanksgiving –  and the time when we experience the blessing of God’s creation with the vibrant fall colours unfolding all around us and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available for us to enjoy.

blessingsWe have been using Godly Play once again to explore the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the blessing of family. We talked about the importance of family members helping each other and the children started to think, act out and write about ways that they can help out at home.  We hope you have seen a few of these blessings at work in your own household!

The next week we explored the blessing of friendship using cooperative games to help us think about the characteristics of friendship.

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In the weeks to come, we will be continue to explore the theme by learning more about the blessings from God that come to us through the sacrament of communion and the bounty of the autumn harvest.

To continue the conversation at home, your family might want to discuss the following questions:

  • When have you felt blessed in your life?  How did you feel at the time?  
  • How are you as a family connected to the church and the greater community in a positive way?
  • What are some other ways that your family might strengthen your connection to the greater community?

 

                                                

Pentecost Picnic/Year End BBQ!

Sadly the weather didn’t cooperate with our usual plans, but we had a wonderful celebration indoors instead!  There were games and activities and many thank yous shared for all of the folks who made Spirit Space possible this year!

There was a lot of great multi-age leadership taking place with older kids helping to face paint, facilitate games, set out food, hold skipping ropes, and much more. Great job everyone!

This doesn’t mean that Spirit Space is over for the year – we will continue to have programming (although on a smaller scale) each week all summer long! Please come if you are around – we would be delighted to have you.

Finally, thank you so much to everyone at Fairlawn for three wonderful years! I (Sheryl) have so enjoyed the chance to get to know and work with each and every one of you. I will miss you all a lot and continue to pray for you as I move to California to continue my studies. Thanks so much to the kids and families for such wonderful cards and beautiful, touching gifts. I was so moved and surprised by everything! I will be around Fairlawn until the end of June so if we haven’t had a chance to say goodbye yet, hopefully we will in the coming weeks. Thank you all so much!

Home and Family

This past Sunday we had a special Spirit Space activity – learning a song with Eleanor Daly, our music director! We shared this with the congregation during Spirit Space time, partly as a gift to the congregation for Mother’s Day as well!

This chance to sing with Eleanor was also a chance to think about worshipping God through music, something that has a lot of history in the church. We also thought about how leading music in church can be a way of serving God and the church. Part of getting to know Eleanor was to learn about the junior choir and to think about if that is something anyone might be interested for the fall. Everyone is welcome (usually kids are around age 6-12) and it rehearses on Wednesdays from 4:15-5:15. There is a snack every week and it is a lot of fun! Let me know if you are interested.

We had a bit more time to work on some art projects in Spirit Space as well – planting some seeds and making some beautiful pictures on canvas (Napkin Decoupage) – see here for instructions! https://www.pinterest.com/explore/napkin-decoupage/ Our activities were focused on the theme of giving thanks to our families and everyone who cares for us.

Messy Church – Pentecost

Our theme for Messy Church was Pentecost – the story from Acts 2 that tells of the birth of the church! After a delicious salad bar dinner (diversity coming together to make one thing!) we explored the story together. Our activities included building 3-D church puzzles, making and flying kites (exploring the movement of wind), making buttons with various messages (wearing a button is one way to spread messages in today’s world), learned some ASL and ways to communicate amidst language barriers, and more! Thanks for joining us!

Roots and Home

Our themes this week were roots and home. These are great themes for this time of year when we see animals emerging from their homes/creating new homes, new roots and shoots emerging, and ourselves we maybe begin to travel outside more and also perhaps appreciate home then in new ways.

This week we used Godly Play once again to explore the parable of the sower, a parable that we have been exploring a fair bit this year. We made connections between ourselves and the different types of soil and wondered why the sower planted in so many different places – was the sower new to planting? Was the sower unsure of where the good soil was? Was the sower trying to feed the birds too? Did the sower believe in the possibility of the poor soil?

To explore the themes further, the kids wrote a prayer about home-related themes that several shared in Spirit Space time. We made homes for birds and played games with “home base” or “safe” locations and explored the connection between home and safety but also not being able to stay there all of the time.

Here are some possible questions to continue the conversation:

-What do you like about your home? About being at home?

-What does it feel like to come home after you have been away? Have you ever wanted to be home when you were out or away? Why was that?

-Have you ever wanted to be somewhere else but had to stay home? What was that like? What did you do?

-What are some of the reasons that some people do not have good homes or any home at all? What does our faith tell us we should do about this? What are some ways we can help?

Earth Day and Camp Scugog Sunday!

This past Sunday was a special week at Fairlawn! We celebrated Earth Day by celebrating our church’s commitment to supporting kids attending Lake Scugog Camp! Staff from Lake Scugog Camp were present to help lead activities and following the service a silent auction was held to support the camp.

The activities this Sunday had a particular earth and recycled materials focus. We made terrariums out of recycled gum containers, painted rocks, made film canister necklaces (to store favourite rocks or other finds!), and made fish out of recycled CDs. If you didn’t get a chance to make one on Sunday, here are some pictures of how they look so you can make your own at home!

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Here are some discussion questions:

-What are some ways we can help to care for God’s creation? Why is that important?

-What are some things we can do to lessen our impact on the world? How can we arrange our lives so we remember our commitment to live in this way?

-What are some Bible stories or teachings that show us how to live respectfully and integrated well with other parts of creation?

-How can going to camp or spending time outdoors in other ways help us to feel connected to creation? Can we feel those same things even when we are in the city? Why could it be important to help make sure all kids have access to camp and time in nature?

 

Wind and Air

 

It was a beautiful day on Sunday, and a great day to talk about God’s presence in yet another part of the natural world.

Our focus was a line from the story of Nicodemus in John 3 – verse 8, which says: The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

We talked about how our lives can be confusing to other people when we follow God – that sometimes we are like a napkin or a plastic bag blowing in the wind – hard to catch, hard to predict what will happen next. How when we treat our friends nicely and strangers with respect, other people might be confused by us. That when we listen to what God is calling us to do, our lives might move many different places and change in different ways like something being blown by the wind.

We played games where one person is the leader and changes what the rest of the group is doing and one person has to come in from outside to guess who it is who is the leader initiating the changes. We talked about how we can see the effects of the changes the leader is making but it can be hard to figure out who it is who is initiating the changes or what is coming next.

For our stations, we focused on wind and air – watercolour cards with birds and butterflies, pinwheels that blow in the wind, and wind chimes. All of these items will be sold next week after the service to help support kids attending summer camp at Lake Scugog! As the weather warms into spring, consider making something as a family that will remind you of God’s spirit moving like the wind this summer – it could be a wind sock or wind chimes, a kite, a model plane, the image of a bird, or anything else you can think of!

Discussion questions:

-What do you like about wind? What do you not like about it? How can it be helpful to us (i.e. wind power, sailing, etc.)? How can it be challenging (i.e. strong winds make it hard to walk, strong winds like tornadoes destroy buildings)?

-How can God’s presence be like that in our lives? Have you ever felt God pushing you toward something like a wind? Have you ever just wanted calm but it felt like God was pushing you into action?

-How can God be like air, invisible yet fully present and essential to life? What are the things that help us to know wind/air is present (i.e. things are moved by it, we can breathe)? What, like that, are secondary things that can remind us of God’s presence even when we can’t directly see or sense it all the time?

 

 

 

Water

Our theme last Sunday was water. We are currently working through several themes that connect to creation in this season of Easter. Samentia presented the story (Moses parting the Red Sea, Exodus 14) in an embodied way where everyone moved around the room walking through the different experiences and emotions of the story. We talked about how water was both a barrier and a protector in the story. How water listened to people and didn’t listen to people, sometimes doing its own thing and sometimes helping people. Then, at the end of the journey, we danced – the same thing that the Israelites did when they finally made it to the promised land! Our dance will be presented in church in the next week or so – keep an eye out!

To explore the theme further, we did activities related to water that we will sell at the Lake Scugog Camp Auction on April 24. These included watering cans and watercolour greeting cards.

Discussion ideas to continue the conversation at home:

-Where do you encounter water in your everyday life?

-Do you like water? Why or why not?

-What are some of the places where water is mentioned in the Bible?

-Why do you think water is used in baptism?