Summer is a great time of year for Faith Formation
Today’s guest blogger is Cindy Spencer, Coordinator for Children and Family Ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.
“Summer, summer, summer. I loved and hated summer. Summers had a logic all their own, and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.” – Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Summer is a great time of year for Faith Formation. What?
- “Summer’s for picnics, and weekend trips, late nights, vacations, and unscheduled days!”
- “Church School and Adult Formation are over for the year.“
- “Between vacations, ball games and family commitments, it’s hard to get to church in the summer.”
While the pattern of regular worship attendance is vital, the honest truth is that faith formation is not confined to the walls of the church, or even to Sundays. Formation happens everywhere, and summer is a great time to make connections with our faith in our everyday world.
Especially here in the Northwest, summers are spent outdoors – camping, hiking, picnics, barbecues, at the beach, the mountains, even your own backyard. Take time throughout the summer to notice the wonders of creation, and make connections with the vastness and closeness of God.
One of the joys of summer here is the long days. Indeed, in our cooler summers, I’m convinced that summer here is more about light than necessarily about warmth! Begin a practice of noticing the light, a practice that continues into the darkness of Advent. Talk about ways in which we experience God as light, ways in which we let our light shine, ways in which we can practice being conscious of living as a child of light.
On my street, sightings of neighbors can be scarce mid-winter. But in the summer, everyone’s out! Long evenings give us ample opportunity to gather with friends, family and neighbors around food, our backyard firepit, or over a game of croquet. Use these opportunities to explore the notion of fellowship and relationship. Practice a modified form of the examen as a family over your meal, noting where this day you saw God, or experienced grace, forgiveness, joy or illumination. Share meals with others, and note ways in which this is a form of communion. Practice hospitality through visits with friends, particularly new friends or friends you don’t see often. If possible, make a point of sharing a meal with your child’s godparents, giving them the opportunity to build relationships with your children.
You can do all of these things simply, without outside resources. However, great resources exist!
Check out Vibrant Faith at Home, which has an app available, as well as a website full of great, simple suggestions for exploring faith at all ages. Candle Press offers a great set of “Family Vacation” cards which fit in a glovebox, offering boredom relief on long trips while fostering family interactions around faith and everyday life. The “To-Go” modules “Summertime” and “Our Family Scrapbook” are also fun for families.
What resources do you use to support summertime faith?