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?

 

Easter Season – Dirt!

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The season of Easter goes all the way from Easter Sunday to Pentecost (this year, on May 15) which gives us lots of time to explore the meaning of resurrection and new life in our lives and the world!

A major focus for us in this season will be God’s presence in creation. Our theme this past Sunday was dirt – which makes sense. Dirt /soil is the building block of life, it is essential for all of our food and plant life (and thereby oxygen). However, dirt often doesn’t get much respect! We talked about that as a group, how dirt is often assumed to be not very important or even just a problem because it can be messy and kind of yucky sometimes. It is the place where things decompose and go when they die. We connected that to the Easter story – how Jesus went to the place of death before coming back to life. That even though a lot of things might seem to not have life, they can actually be places where new life is forming and can be essential for that life to have what it needs to emerge.

Another connection to creation is our fundraising for Lake Scugog Camp! This camp allows kids who experience poverty and other social barriers to have time in creation and explore this location to experience God and spirit in the world.

This week, we worked on a dance based on this great song about scattering seeds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AmqYcWjBmc&index=3&list=PLx7I9WcMK0LZ19ADweJE5IWFrnKeqTer1) which we hope to share in church on April 17. Try playing it at home and see if your kids remember any of the moves! Also, the lyrics are really great and can make a great discussion starter.

We also did dip-dyeing to decorate plant pots (which will be sold as a fundraiser for Scugog at the auction on April 24) and finished flowering our crosses (another connection to dirt/death and new life) from Easter (see last week’s post for more information).

Discussion starters:

– What are some signs of new life you see emerging in spring? What is necessary for that new life to come?

-Do you like dirt? Why or why not? Why might it be important?

– What places in the world/your community/family/etc are suffering? Are there signs of life/hope you can find in that?

 

Holy Week!

Thanks so much to everyone who was able to join us for some of last week’s festivities! We celebrated this packed week of movement from Jesus’ entrance in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday to Jesus’ death on Good Friday to his resurrection on Easter in a variety of ways!

These included: traditional Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating, making flip books to tell the story, a prayer walk looking for signs of death, life, and transformation, a dance exploring the emotions of the holy week story, a last supper dinner theatre, making beaded necklaces and crosses with words that capture a certain aspect of the story, and more!

One activity that we did with both cookies and paper is a tradition called flowering the cross. With paper, we wrote on one side some of the feelings of Good Friday and contemporary experiences of that from our own lives – such as poverty, bullying, loneliness, death of pets and family members, and then covered the other side with flowers. With cookies we just decorated cross shaped sugar cookies with lots of flowers. This tradition explores some of why we called Good Friday “good” and how it is that the cross is both a symbol of pain and death but also new life and the Christian community. Connecting the two sides of the cross we can begin to imagine some connections between things that are really sad and also things that are really hopeful and good and how it is that one can inform the other. Consider trying this at home next year – maybe make a cross that throughout Lent you decorate with words and symbols of pain and brokenness and sadness and then finally on Easter you flip over to cover with signs and symbols of new life such as flowers.

Parable of the Good Shepherd

We spend a couple of weeks focused on this parable as there has been a lot of other stuff going on!

 

This parable is a rich one. It is a reminder that God cares for each person, knows each person, and will take care of us in difficult times. One station explored the differences between labyrinths and mazes – labyrinths having only one path to follow and mazes where you have to make choices and we talked about when our lives feel like one or the other and which we like more at different times. We also traced finger labyrinths with yarn to be able to follow them with our eyes closed as a meditation/relaxation tool.

At another station, there were a variety of games involving knowing each others’ names and blindfolds, picking up a number of aspects of the story,  and also stations to make name signs for our rooms or other places we feel safe and also to decorate special boxes to put important or special things in to keep them safe. Lots of great conversations at those stations too!

Here are some discussion questions you can try out:

-Where and when do you feel most safe? Why?

-How can we make the places where you don’t feel as safe better? Are there times when it might be fun or exciting to feel that things are a bit dangerous/risky and it might not be so fun to always feel like things are totally safe (i.e. amusement park, going on a trip)

-What is the story of how you got your name/how your child got theirs? Why is that name special? Do you like it when people know your name? Are there names people call you that you don’t like? How do you feel when people forget your name?

Preparing for Holy Week as a Family

With no school on Easter weekend, here are some ideas of things you can do to mark the occasion as a family and move together from Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, towards an even-more-meaningful Easter!

Holy Week at Home: Family Practices for the Triduum

Let me know what you think!

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

This parable (Matthew 13:31-32) is a short description of the kingdom of God, describing how this smallest of seeds becomes the biggest of trees which is home for many birds. I think kids often connect well to this parable – they are used to being seen as small but know they have a big impact and a lot that they can offer. They know what is like to be judged by appearances. This can be a great place to start for discussion with kids, such as:

-When have you felt small or underestimated?

-What are some small things that are really important and make a big difference?

-What do you think this parable tells us about God?

People often have spoken about this parable as a message about faith: that a small bit of faith, the size of a mustard seed, is all that is really necessary. This can be helpful to kids and all of us as we go through hard times and times of many questions and uncertainties. Even in those times, can we find hope, love, or faith in even the tiniest quantity?

This past Sunday we explored the story in a variety of ways. We made mustard seed necklaces to remind us of some of the wisdom and beauty of this story and then did some science experiments where small things have a big impact or grow into something big, played a seed matching game with different types of seeds and then used those seeds to make art and imagine what different seeds could grow into and become, and made seed paper out of bits of old newspaper/recycled paper and seeds that we will use to give to people and allow that paper to become plants and grow when it is done with and planted.

Here is a link to instructions for how to make your own seed paper! http://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/make-your-own-recycled-seed-paper/

 

 

Pearl of Great Price

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The parable today was the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), where we hear about someone selling all they have for a valuable pearl. We talked about things we value can do that to us – put everything into perspective, make us want to give other things away, make us focus on what really matters. So, since it was Valentine’s Day, we did some random acts of kindness for the church! The kids made treats, cards, notes, and even sculptures to hand out to each member of the congregation, and talked about how some people at church do not get any Valentine’s treats, especially if they live alone or their family is far away or their spouse has died. The kids had a lot of fun connecting with members of the congregation and people mentioned that they were touched to get to connect with the kids in this way.

To continue the conversation at home:

-What are the things you really value? Are there other things that get in the way of that? Could you give some of those things up for Lent or even give them away totally or sell them to use the money for those things you really value like showing love to the world?

-What kinds of random acts of kindness could you do in your regular life as a family? Here are some suggestions: http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/100-acts-kindness-kids/

-How can you reach out to those you might know who might be lonely? Can you try to include them in some celebrations as a family or bring them cards at different seasons?

Mardi Gras Celebration!

We had another great Mardi Gras/Pancake Tuesday celebration this week! Mardi Gras is a big party that celebrates extravagance through feasting, dancing, music, and much more. To celebrate, we made Fruit Loop mardi gras bead necklaces, decorated Mardi Gras hats (http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/mardi-gras-crafts), played musical instruments, decorated King’s Cakes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake), made bead art mosaics (http://www.viralnova.com/mardi-gras-beads-mosaic/), and made masks!

We talked about how sometimes the opposite of something can help us to prepare for something very different. For example, sleep can help us prepare for a busy day ahead, physical activity can prepare us to be still, having a big party can prepare us for not seeing friends for a while, people having a lot of parties around Christmas can contribute to them wanting to make particular New Year’s resolutions, etc.

Mardi Gras is like that: it is the opposite of Lent in many ways, but it helps us to prepare for it. We use up some of the excess things we might have to clear space for a simpler, more reflective time. We get certain things “out of our system” so we can focus on the season that is before us.

Ideas for discussion:

-What “opposite” preparations can you think of in your life? How can they be helpful to us?

-What are the things in your life that need some balancing right now that perhaps Lent could offer (i.e. busyness, disorganization, tiredness, etc.)? Are there spiritual practices that could be helpful in that?

-What will you do as individuals and as a family to mark Lent this year? Where do you feel God’s call/tugging in your lives?