lifelongformation Blog

October 13, 2014

lptwSunday, October 19 is Proper 24, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament.

Gospel Lesson: Giving to God
Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22

Once again, people who opposed Jesus and his message are trying to entrap him. This is the first of three exchanges between the Jewish leaders and Jesus. The lesson begins with them buttering Jesus up, and then asking a question that they thought would show that he was speaking out against the government so that he could get arrested. However, Jesus does not fall for it and calls them to the test instead.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: God’s Presence in Our Lives
Scripture: Exodus 33:12-23

Today’s lesson comes after the story of the Golden Calf from last week.  Following on the heels of that story, we hear and exchange between God and Moses about God’s role in their lives and in the rest of their journey.  Moses continues to intercede on behalf of the people of Israel and remind God what God had told them in the past.  We hear that Moses wants a better understanding of how God works so he can serve God better and have a deeper relationship with God.  Moses asks God to be made clearer so he might better understand how best to follow God and therefore how to be a better leader.  Finally, Moses asks to see the glory of God to deepen the relationship and be filled with God’s presence and love.  As God passes by Moses, he cannot see all of God, but only where God has been.  We as humans never see God at work, but only where God has been, only where God was.  Those “God moments” are evidence of where God has been in our lives in order to deepen our faith and understanding in God.

About Lesson Plans that Work

Lesson Plans that Work is a part of the Episcopal Digital Network that hosts free curriculum and resources that are published online by The Episcopal Church.

Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.

These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.

To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.

To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.

 

Sunday, October 19 is Proper 24, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. Gospel Lesson: Giving to God Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22 Once again, people who opposed Jesus and his message are trying to entrap him. This...
October 6, 2014

lptwSunday, October 12 is Proper 23, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament.

Gospel Lesson: We Are Invited
Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14

This is the final parable that Jesus gives in the temple, and it is especially a difficult one for children and youth to understand. To explain the parable briefly, many sight it as being an allegory of salvation history. The wedding banquet is given by the king (God) for the son (Jesus). Many guests are invited ahead of time and say they will come, but on the day of the wedding, no one will come and some, in fact, abuse the slaves he sent to gather them. The king (God) is furious and sends troops to punish them.

The wedding banquet is still ready, so the king (God) tells the slaves to go and gather all who are in the streets, good and bad, to the banquet. They come, ready for the banquet – all except one, who is singled out and taken away. This final piece is said to be not about a physically being ready, but about leaving behind the old and being ready for the feast, being ready for God, presenting yourself to God in such a way as to say, I have prepared myself and am here. It is also good to note that in Jesus’ culture, when one was invited to a wedding, there were robes given to the guests to wear and this man chose not to – he chose to keep his own clothes, thus not giving himself fully to God and to the feast.

This is a difficult parable that has been used to exclude people and bully people into being a certain way to get into the feast. This is really about God inviting us to come, choosing to come, and welcoming us to be ready when we are invited. Jesus is urging us to come to the feast when we are invited and to put on the “clothes” that God has provided for us. We are all invited into the kingdom of heaven, it is our choice to accept and prepare ourselves or not.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: Focus on God Our Creator
Scripture: Exodus 32:1-14

Moses has been on the mountain with God for 40 days and nights which means that the Israelites have been without either of their leaders.  In their anxiousness they turn to Aaron who helps and encourages them create a calf and then to have a festival.  As God sees what they are doing, God becomes angry and wants to get rid of them.  Moses, however, steps in and asks for God’s mercy, quoting God’s promise from Genesis.  This is a great risk for Moses, as he asks God to turn away from anger and remember the promises that were made to the people.  God changes his mind and does not burn wrath upon the people.

About Lesson Plans that Work

Lesson Plans that Work is a part of the Episcopal Digital Network that hosts free curriculum and resources that are published online by The Episcopal Church.

Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.

These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.

To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.

To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.

 

Sunday, October 12 is Proper 23, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. Gospel Lesson: We Are Invited Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14 This is the final parable that Jesus gives in the temple, and it is especially a...
September 29, 2014

lptwSunday, October 5 is Proper 22, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service.

Gospel Lesson: Jesus is the Cornerstone
Scripture: Matthew 21:33-46

This follows the parable of The Two Sons who were sent to the vineyard.  One son, when asked to go work in the vineyard by their father said no, but went to work in the vineyard later.  The other son, when asked to go work in the vineyard by the father, said yes, but did not go work in the vineyard.  The parable from last Sunday and the one for this week are both about working in the vineyard and about doing God’s will, but this one has a twist at the end, reminding us that Jesus is the cornerstone.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: God’s Instructions to Live and Love
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Prior to God giving the Israelites the commandments, the people of Israel reached Mount Sinai where God tells Moses how to prepare the people for what is to come.  The people are consecrated and waiting to hear God’s word, when the voice of God comes to them.

The Ten Commandments are straightforward instructions given to the Israelites by God for how to be in relationship with God and with each other.  The first commandment sets the tone for the rest as it is telling the people, I am your God, there will be no other.  It is calling all of Israel to give their life, every part of their being to God, and to put away all other gods that they may have known in the past.  This is a radical restructuring of their lives.

All of the commandments are about how we are to be in community and relationship with one another in this new way.  The first four are about how we are to be in relationship with God, how we are to interact with God and how we are to structure our lives around God.  The final six are about how we are to interact, honor and treat one another.

About Lesson Plans that Work

Lesson Plans that Work is a part of the Episcopal Digital Network that hosts free curriculum and resources that are published online by The Episcopal Church.

Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.

These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.

To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.

To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.

 

Sunday, October 5 is Proper 22, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service....
September 25, 2014

Today’s blog post is devoted to remembering the life and ministry of Janie Stevens. Janie was an early supporter of formation ministries in The Episcopal Church and friend and mentor to many of us over the years. We are all deeply saddened by her death and wish to remember the passion and joy she shared with us all. Today’s blog post is offered by Ruth-Ann Collins, who has known and admired Janie Stevens as both a colleague and a friend. You may also want to read the memorial published by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Janie

“Spiritual Formation is not about steps or stages of perfection. It is about the movements from the mind to the heart.”

Photo courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Photo courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

I know very few people who really embody these words of Henri Nouwen. My dear friend Janie Stevens was one of them – a woman of grace, courage, class, passion, and conviction. We will never know the number of people whose lives have been transformed because of Janie’s incredible and faithful ministry.

Janie and her husband, Jim, met in grammar school and whenever I was with them I was in awe of their never ending devotion and deep love for each other. In one of our last conversations Janie and I talked about our legacies. Janie’s ability to love unconditionally will be carried on by her daughters, son-in-laws, and in the lives of her beautiful grandchildren. We would talk for hours about our grandchildren, be it a simple conversation about Janie working diligently to finish embroidering Christmas stockings for each new grandbaby or as complex as the concerns we shared about the fragile world they are growing up in. We would laugh and cry and pray.

Many years ago, Janie was part of a small group of women Christian educators, who with the strength of each other and the grace of God began the modern day Christian Formation movement in The Episcopal Church. Janie was right there in the middle of the action stepping up to lead whenever called upon. Even as she struggled with her health she still found the strength to chair the Standing Commission for Lifelong Christian Formation and Education because her passion for the cause was unending.

I first met Janie at an education conference at Camp Allen where she introduced me to southern hospitality. There was never a shortage of laughter when Janie was around, even when we became the “elders” of the Christian formation community we still managed to stir up some mischief.

One of my fondest memories is of Janie sitting on the floor telling stories to the children of military service personnel who were deployed to Afghanistan. The children were mesmerized as were all the teachers, I can hear her sweet lyrical voice as she focused on each child as if they were her own, because in her heart they were.

I have so many wonderful memories, because God blessed me with my friend Janie. Those memories and the memories of all who know and love Janie make up her legacy. As I weep this day for my dear friend, I can hear her southern accent saying that’s enough, there are position papers to write, curricula to complete, and Christmas stockings to finish, so get to work and have fun doing it. As I weep this day, I am reflecting on Nouwen’s words:

“the Spirit of God within us says: ‘There is a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ The spirit of healing that makes us mourn is the same Spirit that makes us dance. The mystery of the dance is that its movements are discovered in the mourning.”

May peace be with Jim and the girls, and may we all dance in love, as Janie would want us to. I am dancing in celebration of your life my friend.

Shalom, your sister in Christ.

Ruth-Ann

Ruth-Ann Collins has been serving The Episcopal Church as Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation since 2007  and is currently taking medical leave to tend to knee replacements. The Rev. Shannon Kelly is serving as the Interim Missioner during Ruth-Ann’s absence.  

Today’s blog post is devoted to remembering the life and ministry of Janie Stevens. Janie was an early supporter of formation ministries in The Episcopal Church and friend and mentor to many of us over the years. We are all deeply saddened by her...
September 23, 2014

Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church’s Lifelong Formation Council.  

Generosity Leads to Joy

Stewardship is “taking care of the earth and all who live on it.
” Tithing is “sharing 10% of what God has given us.”

Tithing Halloween 2010 graphic #2“Tithing Halloween” is a fun and successful way to help parishioners of all ages understand the concepts of stewardship and tithing.

The project is introduced in the weeks prior to Halloween, and parents are asked to:

  1. Talk with their children before they go “trick or treating,” and then
  2. Guide their kids through the activities after they return home with their treats.

Goals of “Tithing Halloween”:

  • The awareness of our duty as Christians to share our abundance to do God’s work and help others
  • The practical understanding of the tithe as 10%: 1 out of every 10
  • The understanding that to “love our neighbors” includes more than the people who live next to us, and even includes people we may not know or like
  • Observing the many needs in the world around us (both near and far) and deciding how to use our available resources to help meet those needs
  • Realizing that one person cannot possibly meet every identified need, which means we have to decide where and how we will choose to give our gifts
  • Understanding that by putting our gifts together with other people’s contributions, more needs can be met, and more of what God calls us to do can happen.

We give families suggestions of how to figure out what 10% is, (view our brochure) tell them to whom the church will be donating the candy, make suggestions of other places the candy can go (if, for example, they cannot make it to church on Sunday, or if they want to give some through the church and some on their own), and invite the adults to participate, too.

“Tithing Halloween” is truly formational. It provides many opportunities for thought, discussion and learning, and it is a great way to teach and nurture generosity and stewardship. And it’s fun, too! When the candy is gathered on the Sunday after All Saints Day, it is amazing to see that when everyone’s little bit is combined with the gifts from everyone else, the resulting pile is huge!

One unanticipated benefit is that adults learn as much or more than the kids. When parents see what a difference it makes that everyone participates even if they only have a little to give, they realize that every pledge to the church makes a difference (Halloween is, of course, usually during our pledge drive); combined with the gifts of others, ministry can be funded.

Note: Another surprise was that in our first year of doing this, more than one family shared that when their kids saw how much they had left over (the 90%), they wanted to give away more to help the kids who were in the hospital and couldn’t go “trick or treating.” They took a second pile of 10%… and then a third… and a couple families ended up giving away more than they kept – and they had fun doing it.

Tithing Halloween is a wonderful example of generosity leading to joy. And, as the Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is our strength!”

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church’s...
September 22, 2014

lptwSunday, September 28 is Proper 21, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service.

Gospel Lesson: What God Has Given Us To Do
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-32

Jesus’ journey takes him to the temple for the last time and stays there.  During these next three chapters we see Jesus teaching on a variety of topics, not because he set out to do so, but because the high priests, elders and Pharisees are trying to trap him by asking tricky questions and backing him into a corner.  As we read these stories, we know that Jesus was not going to play that game.

Jesus is seen by others as having the authority to heal and teach, but in today’s lesson the chief priests and elders question this authority.  By answering their question with a question about John the Baptist, Jesus is not stalling them, but rather evoking the prophets that have come before him and identifying himself and John the Baptist with the prophets of the past.  When the chief priests and elders respond, they respond not from what they know to be true, but rather from a place of political maneuvering.  To save themselves, they say they do not know.

So Jesus presents them with a parable, a story that teaches us about a truth.  This is a parable about doing the work God has given us to do, not just saying we are going to do it, but going and doing the work, no matter where we are on our own journey or about what we may or may not have done in the past.  God wants us out in the world, doing what we are called to do.  As people of God we are to witness, to name our beliefs and be a worker in the field.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: Water
Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

In the previous chapter the Israelites faced the hardship of not having enough food and God provided for them.  Now they are thirsty and don’t know where they will get their water for themselves and their livestock.  They once again complain to Moses.  It would be easy for us to see them as a whiney bunch of people who did not have faith.  But let us remember that these are people who have just been freed from slavery, and they are wondering what this journey is all about.  They are thirsty, and if you have ever been REALLY thirsty or if you have been dehydrated, you know that it is not something that you can just “power through.”  This is a life and death situation not only for the people, but also for their livestock and their well-being.

They complain against Moses, wondering again what his plan is or if he brought them out here to die.  Moses appeals to the Lord realizing what a tense situation they are in and God, once again provides for them.

This is one of the many times in Exodus where it is brought to light that the Israelites have trouble trusting in Moses and God.  Through God’s acts of bringing them water and food and water (again), trust is being built.  Remember, these are freed slaves.  Why would they trust in their leaders when their previous leaders and rulers has been cruel to them and made them work in horrid conditions.   Through Moses and through God’s actions, they can see that God can be trusted even in the most dire circumstances.

This also teaches us, the people of God past, present and future, that God is faithful, we can trust God, and we as people of God (like Moses) can make a difference in other people’s lives if we act on what God has called us to do. If nothing else, we see God meeting the people where they are (again) and providing for their journey.  O come, o come Emmanuel.

About Lesson Plans that Work

Lesson Plans that Work is a part of the Episcopal Digital Network that hosts free curriculum and resources that are published online by The Episcopal Church.

Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.

These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.

To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.

To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.

Sunday, September 28 is Proper 21, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service...
September 17, 2014

DogsLord, make me an instrument of your peace,
     where there is hatred, let me sow love;
     where there is injury, pardon;
     where there is doubt, faith;
     where there is despair, hope;
     where there is darkness, light; and
     where there is sadness, joy.
O, God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
     to be understood as to understand;
     to be loved as to love;
     for it is in giving that we receive;
     it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
     and it is in dying
     that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

- Prayer of St. Francis

The Feast of St. Francis is celebrated on October 4. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment and worship inspired by this Feast typically include pet blessings, prayers for environmental protection and conservation, and a call to a lifestyle based in simplicity and service of others.

LydiaIf you are looking for resources for St. Francis Day, please check out these resources below.

St. Francis Day Resources from Lesson Plans that Work

St. Francis Resources from TextWeek.com

A St. Francis’ life and legacy can by found on the website for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

Downloadable Blessing of the Animals, Eucharistic Service outline, and other resources.

This Feast day is popular in many churches, and often inspires unique outreach and worship opportunities. If you are planning something creative in your faith community for the Feast of St. Francis, please share in the comments.

Do you know of a good resource that aren’t included? Leave it for us in the comments or on our Facebook Page.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,      where there is hatred, let me sow love;      where there is injury, pardon;      where there is doubt, faith;      where there is despair, hope;      where there is darkness, light; and      where...
September 15, 2014

lptwSunday, September 21 is Proper 20, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service.

Gospel Lesson: We Are All a Part of God’s Work
Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16

This parable appears in the section of Matthew where those around Jesus are questioning him about everything. As Jesus continues his ministry and the disciples are witnessing his great works, they keep coming to him with questions about taxes, who is the greatest in Heaven, forgiveness, divorce, and how to inherit eternal life. The disciples are trying to figure out this new world that they are experiencing through Jesus’ miracles, parables, and teachings.  Just prior to our lesson today, the disciples have heard Jesus tell the rich young man that he must sell everything and give the money to the poor.  They begin to wonder, “We have left everything and followed you.  What then will we have?”  Meaning, we have left our homes and our families, we have left behind what we know and love to follow you…what will we get in return?

So, Jesus tells them the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.  This is a difficult parable as there are many ways it can be read.  It could be seen as unfair or pitting justice with grace. However we read it, this parable is about God’s generosity and God’s grace.

The writer of Matthew’s Gospel has sandwiched the story of the Laborers in the Vineyard with 19:30 (30But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.) and 20:16 (“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”)  Clearly this is an important message for Matthew to get across.  That there is a reversal of the way we assume things will be and we are playing by a new rulebook.

A good number of the children will have heard “The first will be last and the last will be first.”  We don’t want them to think this is just about letting the last person in line go first or that they should always be last to receive a reward, but that this is about how much God loves them that it does not matter where they are in line or where they are finding God, but more that they are all a part of this together and we will all receive God’s amazing love and grace.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: God Provides
Scripture: Exodus 16:2-15

The Israelites and Moses have just walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, they have survived and witnessed a miracle and are now journeying in the wilderness areas of Shur and Elim.  Our story picks up as they are in between Elim and Sinai in the wilderness, hungry and asking for bread and meat.  One chapter earlier, God provided them with water, and yet now farther on their journey, they seem to forget that and be complaining again, asking Moses if he brought them out here to die.  Wondering if they would have been better off in Egypt where they were at least fed and given drink.  (Oh, how quickly they forget their slavery and the conditions that surrounded them. So now, they challenge Moses.  The Lord responds to Moses with our scripture today. 

About Lesson Plans that Work

Lesson Plans that Work is a part of the Episcopal Digital Network that hosts free curriculum and resources that are published online by The Episcopal Church.

Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.

These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.

To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.

To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.

Sunday, September 21 is Proper 20, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service...
September 10, 2014

Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church’s Lifelong Formation Council.  

Saintly PumpkinsAll Saints and All Souls Pumpkins

Halloween is not just a time to dress up and eat candy; it’s also a great time to teach the traditions of the church.

One thing we did in our parish – and people loved it so much that we did it at least 3 years in a row – was to carve pumpkins with symbols of saints for All Saints Day.

We had a Halloween party and, yes, people came in their Halloween costumes, and we had the traditional costume contests, gory food, and Halloween-themed games. But we also asked people to bring pumpkins and carving tools – and then we had a wonderful time carving the pumpkins together.

Kids helped. They helped choose the saint and symbol. They helped get the seeds and other gunk out of the pumpkins. Some, depending on age, helped carve. Most of the younger ones, though, went to the kitchen and, with help, prepared the pumpkin seeds to be baked into treats to be shared at church on Sunday and/or taken home.  (There are many recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds available on the web. Here’s one we liked.)

Saints, Signs, & Symbols #1Saints and symbols were chosen from books we had on hand.  (Again, you can find symbols many places. One of the books we used was Saints, Signs and Symbols.)  We enlarged the symbol with our copier and then people transferred the image onto the pumpkin however they wanted.  Some used carbon paper, some used poker tools to poke holes along the lines, some used pens and did it by free hand.  Then we used pumpkin-carving tools (e.g., knives, scrapers, exact-o-knives, pins, thumb tacks, small saws, drills, pokers) to carve out the images.

After the pumpkins were carved, we put candles in them, brought them upstairs, lit them, shared a few words about the saint whose symbol we carved, and then said our closing prayers looking at the flickering images.  We left the pumpkins in church for our All Saints and All Souls liturgies.

How do you teach the autumn seasonal traditions in your faith community?

Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church’s...
September 8, 2014

Lesson Plans That WorkSunday, September 14 is Proper 19, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament.

Gospel Lesson: Forgiveness
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35

This week’s lesson follows on the heels of Jesus teaching on how we are all to humble ourselves as children in order to enter the Kingdom of God, on how we are to look for the lost sheep if there is one lost, and how we are to solve conflicts in our communities.  This section of Matthew deals with how Jesus calls us to live together in community in this new way which leads to a good number of questions about what this means.

Peter asks Jesus how many times we are to forgive someone who has sinned against us or has done us wrong.  Jesus responds with the parable known as the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.  Throughout the ages as people have interpreted Jesus’ answer of 77 times to mean never.  We are never to stop forgiving and the parable leads us to see that as well.  The servant who comes before the king owes him an outrageous amount. The king’s first reaction is to sell him and his family.  Out of fear, the servant begs for mercy, and he is forgiven his debt.  However, when the servant requires another person to repay him a rather small amount of money and does not forgive that person of his debt, the king shows no mercy.  When the king sees that the servant is unwilling to forgive this small debt, he lets the servant know that he has had enough and hands him over to be tortured until he can pay his debt.

We are to show mercy and forgiveness to others just as God shows us mercy.  The king’s willingness to forgive the debt completely at first is an example of how much God is willing to forgive us. It is only when we see the burden of our own debts that we can see the magnitude of God’s mercy in our lives.

Old Testament Lesson Plan: Parting of the Red Sea
Scripture: Exodus 14:19-31

The Israelites have fled Egypt, headed toward the Red Sea and are being led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  As they flee, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened once again (as God foretold) and he sends 600 picked chariots and other chariots with Egyptian officers after them.  As the Egyptians close in on the Israelites, they begin doubting Moses and what God had told him to do.  Moses tells them ‘Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.’  Then God tells Moses what to do to escape the Egyptians.

This is a plan by God so that the Egyptians will see God’s power and his might.  The lead up and crossing of the Red Sea puts the power in God’s hand even though there are thousands of Pharaoh’s men following them in chariots with whips.  Their power is useless against God’s power.  This is an amazing reversal of the power that the Israelites had known, and they come to have faith in God.

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Sunday, September 14 is Proper 19, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. Gospel Lesson: Forgiveness Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35 This week’s lesson follows on the heels of Jesus teaching on how we are all to...