ShoeBox Sunday School video for little ones

ShoeBox Sunday School logoWe have posted the first ShoeBox Sunday  School  video for our youngest students.

link to ShoeBox Sunday for little ones

Sunday morning, there will be a class for 5-8 years old online at 10 am, and the class for older kids will start at 11 am. A link will be sent to families who have registered their kids to be part of the class.

If you are in the Harrow area, and would like your kids to be part of this new adventure, you can email us at Harrow United Church

We need to know:

-Names of kids, and their ages.

-Your name, email address and phone number.

-Your address, so that we can deliver the ShoeBox that will contain lessons and materials for the class

ShoeBox Sunday School is part of the ongoing ministry of Harrow United Church

 

Worship for April 26, 2020 from Harrow United Church

Worship Video for April 26, 2020

Above is the link to our worship offering for this week. The video opens with a praise song with a great message for the time we are living in, that ties in beautifully with the Gospel Lesson, and the Learning Time.

Beth Graham read John 20:19-31 for us, the passage that tells the story of the mysterious encounter two followers have with the Risen Christ, while walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The anthem for this week, “Stay With Us Through the Night” was inspired by that story.

The Learning Time (sermon) is called “At Home with Jesus”, and is followed by pastoral prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. The text of the learning time and the prayers will follow below.

Our hearts are with all those who are suffering, and enduring the COVID-19 pandemic.

We especially hold in prayer the victims of the horrendous crimes in Nova Scotia, their families and friends, their communities, and the first responders, and law enforcement officials who are dealing with the aftermath.

John Woodbridge and Larry Anderson recorded a moving, prayerful tribute to all those folks, and others touched by this horror. Nova Scotia Strong!

Please keep watching for the announcements at the end of the video.

Learning Time and Prayers:

“At home with Jesus”

Just three days after watching Jesus suffer a cruel death on the cross, two of his followers walked ten kilometres from Jerusalem to their home village of Emmaus. 10 kilometres is a long walk.

I have been out walking with my wife a few nights each week, but we rarely go for more than 4-5 kilometres. Most people we see on the streets respect the rules about physical distancing that are part of our new normal. We cross the street when it looks like we might get too close.

These days, we would not think of doing what the two friends did while walking the road to Emmaus. They met a stranger, walked with them, and entered into a lengthy, and deep conversation.

The two travelling companions were heart-broken at the death of Jesus. They’d heard about Jesus having appeared to some of his followers, but did not know what to make of those stories.

It’s good to remember that when we hear the Good Friday story each year, we do so knowing what we will hear on Easter Sunday. These two followers of Jesus, did not know then, what we know now.

They were, in their time, a bit like we are right now. We are in the middle of this big story that is new for everyone, and we are waiting, and hoping for good things, and praying for a good outcome. We are on a journey, not really knowing where we are going.

The two friends walking from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus took comfort in talking with the stranger they met, who became a new friend, and who seemed to know a lot about Jesus, and his God-given mission. He helped them see meaning and purpose in it all, and they began to feel better.

It seemed natural to invite their walking companion home for supper. (That used to be something we could do!) During the meal, the stranger took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Luke’s Gospel says that was when they recognized that Jesus was with them. An ordinary moment at the supper table became sacred.

That sounds a lot like communion, one of the sacraments of the Christian church. A sacrament is a special moment when God’s grace, God’s mystery, God’s love, touches us.

I have wonderful memories of standing at the communion table in the sanctuary of Harrow United Church, usually with kids gathered around the table, helping with the prayers, with the blessing, with the sharing of the bread and cup. When will we get to do that again?communion with the boys

I have had some preliminary conversation with our worship committee about how we can have a communion service via the internet. My strong preference is that we wait until we can do it as a livestreamed worship service, so we could all break and eat, pour and drink, at the same time, each in our own safe places.

“Communion” comes from the same latin word family as “community”. The “com” part means shared, or with, or joined. The “union” or “unity” part means one. So communion literally means joined as one. In the word “companion”, the “pan” part refers to “panis”, which means bread. A companion is one with whom we share bread.

During this time when our faith community is not able to meet in person, it seems especially important to hear today’s story. The Risen Christ was present with ordinary folks like you and me, gathered at a table in their own home, to share a meal.

I believe that God is always with us, and that there is potential in every moment of life to feel God’s presence. Any moment can be a holy moment, in which we can know that we are loved, and that we are not alone.

One of the blessings I am noticing during this strange time, when a lot of what I have taken for granted can’t easily happen, like getting a hair cut, or shopping just for fun, is that I am even more grateful for what I can do, what I do have. I am also a little clearer in my own mind and heart about what is actually important in life.

As I heard one wise person say, it doesn’t matter who has the nicest car, when you can’t really go anywhere. A lot of things that might have seemed important just a few weeks ago, are losing their glamour.

Most of us are so very fortunate, even now. We have food, and shelter, and safety. We have people who love us, who look out for us, who care what happens to us. We may get lonely, or bored, or feel stuck in one place, but we are mostly okay.

If you are feeling over-whelmed, or alone, or just need to hear a friendly voice, please, please don’t be afraid to reach out. If you send me a text, or email, or facebook message, I will be happy to give you a call, just to chat. I have had some amazing, beautiful conversations in the past few days, some with folks I had never talked with before.

We have people in our local community who are doing simple, beautiful, kind and generous things, to help other people, in this hard time. They have keyed in, consciously or unconsciously, to the basic human truth, that a very good way to cope better with our own challenges, is to help someone else. It may not lift our own burdens, but it gives us something else to focus on, to think about. It also restores our hope, because we are able to do something, even a small thing, to make a difference.

ShoeBox Sunday School logoI have had great fun this week, working with my daughter Naomi, to create ShoeBox Sunday School, which we are offering to families as an interactive way for kids to keep learning about God’s love. Volunteers delivered shoeboxes containing crafts and lessons to homes on Saturday, and on Sunday morning, children will meet with Naomi in an online classroom

There are folks out there who are not as fortunate as most of us. There are people who may not put it this way, but who crave tangible signs that they are not forgotten, that they are loved, needed, noticed, remembered. There are also far too many people who are physically hungry and thirsty, and who are just trying to survive, day to day.

truck full of food for missionHarrow United Church is doing another “Drive Thru Food Drive on Friday, May 1, 2020, from 10 am to 12 noon. We will have a pickup truck in the church parking lot, ready to receive your donations of food for Windsor’s Downtown Mission. We will also accept cash and cheques made out to the Mission.

The first time we did this, a week or two before Easter, we collected over 500 pounds of food. An unexpected bonus was that some folks dropped by with special donations to support the work of our church.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something. In the spirit of the two friends who invited a stranger to join them for a meal, we can share from what we have. Amen

Prayers for April 26, 2020

Loving God; We have so many causes for prayer.

We begin with a moment to hold in the prayer the victims, the first responders, the family and friends, the communities of those in Nova Scotia who have been devastated and shocked by the murderous actions of a serial shooter.

We hold in prayer all victims of violence, and all those who live in fear.

We pray for those who struggle at this time of huge uncertainty;

for political leaders faced with unforeseen challenges, uncharted ways, difficult decisions,

We pray for those in situations never before experienced.

We pray for moms and dads who struggle with having children at home all day.

It is difficult to find new activities; it is hard to stay creative.

We pray for those whose day is radically different.

We pray for those who must leave their usual workspace,

for those breadwinners who must work at home.

We pray for those who have lost their jobs

We pray for those whose financial security has gone,,

who have anxiety around paying rent or providing for family needs .

We pray for those who have been affected by the Covid 19 virus.

Those who are sick at home and those who have been hospitalized,

in their suffering, and in their fear.

This prayer we offer in the name of Jesus Christ, and we continue in prayer with the words of the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory

forever and ever. Amen

 

 

More like a marathon than a sprint

Over the Easter weekend, I had virtual chats with some clergy colleagues, and a common theme was that most of us are busier than ever, and are having to learn new ways to function, in this strange time.

couch-potatoIn my early forties I started running long distance, after having been a happy and plump couch potato, for quite a while. The process of training to build the capacity to run 42.2 kilometres taught me a lot.

I remember from my marathon preparation that I need both consistency and variety in my training regime. Consistency requires setting up a schedule, so that I know what I am meant to do each day. Variety means not doing the same thing with each block of training time.

So I am working on my own schedule, so that there is a structure to my days, but not boring, grueling, sameness. I am building in blocks of time dedicated to leading classes, creating worship, reaching out with pastoral phone calls, working with congregational leaders and colleagues, as well as doing things for the good of mind, body, and spirit.

I have some ideas to share with the Harrow United Church faith community, that I hope may help us make this time of enforced (and necessary) isolation more like a retreat, and less like jail.

I will offer a weekly online “bible study” based on one of the scripture passages I will talk about in my “learning time” in the weekly worship resource. This would be a video chat, so we can hear and see each other. 

digital bible study All you need is your computer, tablet, or smart phone, an internet connection, a bible, and paper and pen.

If you want to be part of this ZOOM based online discussion, email me and I will send you a link.   revdww@gmail.com

The first online Bible study will be next Wednesday,  April 22 from 10:30 to 11:30 am. Bring your own coffee (or beverage of choice).  The passage we will talk about is Luke 24:13-35, which is the story of an encounter with the Risen Christ, on the Emmaus Road. Here is a link to the scripture, as found on Bible Gateway.

Emmaus Road story

I am also looking into the possibility of offering an online Sunday School class. Please let me know if there are kids in your house who would want to take part. (It may require a big person to be with them, to help with activities.) The idea would be to drop off a shoebox at your house containing what you would need for the at home crafts and activities, then we’d all meet online at the same time (In a ZOOM room) for the class. We are calling this ShoeBox Sunday School, but that does not mean it has to happen on Sunday- although it could!

Shoebox-1000(In related news, if ShoeBox Sunday School happens, we will need some shoeboxes. I know we have a few in my house, but may require more.)

 

 

I like the look of this free online course, for those who like to read, and may even enjoy writing their own poetry:

A Fierce and Enduring Gratitude (A free on-demand eCourse: How Poetry Supports Us In Good Times and Bad with Dale Biron)

 We’ve all experienced difficulties and losses in our lives. From health challenges to losing friends and loved ones. From career and business setbacks to divorces. Perhaps our most heroic act in the face of such loss is simply allowing our hearts to break and then transforming that pain into compassion, healing and finally service. In this eCourse, we will explore poems as wise and timeless tools that can support us on our path back to gratitude, happiness and yes, even joy.

poetry e-course link

If you are more into creating something visual or working with your hands, you may want to check out these “art therapy” suggestions. I would love it if you tried a project, and sent me a photo of the results.

Art Therapy link

Many people, young and old, enjoy colouring as a spiritual practice, as a stress-reliever, or just as a fun way to pass the time. It’s a little less daunting than creating our own art from “scratch”. I would love to see photos of your masterpieces!

colouring pages

Finally:

pub quizMy family is taking part in a weekly trivia game with some friends spread across the country, that is something like a pub trivia night. We are doing this as a video chat, and it works quite well. (My adult children are very adept at using the technology!)

I was thinking that if Harrow United Church folks are interested, we could set one up for the congregation. (You’d need to provide your own beverages and snacks!) Again, email me if that is something you’d like to do, or help with. revdww@gmail.com

The Palm Parade

20200405_120454The first photo challenge of Rev. Lexie’s Holy Week Scavenger Hunt is to re-create the scene of the Palm Parade- when Jesus was greeted by the crowds, as he entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, for the Passover Festival.

Here is a link to a video that Rev. Lexie and Rev. Darrow made after they set up the scene, using toys their kids used to play with. (Thank you to Naomi and Joel for the loan of these treasured collector’s items!)

Palm parade video

Rev. Lexie read the story from Matthew 21:1-11, as found in the International Children’s Bible. You can read it here:

Matthew 21:1-11

We hope that your family will take up the Holy Week Scavenger Hunt Challenge. You can read about it here:

The Holy Week Scavenger Hunt

A Holy Week Scavenger Hunt for Your Family

This post is the work of the Rev. Lexie Chamberlain, and is based on an event she created for the Sunday School and congregation she served for many years in Oakville.

When our children were younger, they loved scavenger hunts.  Some were designed with clues they had to solve, which gave them directions to the next clue, and the clues would ultimately lead to a reward at the end.  Others required them to hunt for, and gather special items.

One storm day, when school was cancelled because of a layer of ice, I created a scavenger hunt for which I gave the children my phone and they were tasked with taking photos of items of interest in the neighbourhood.  (e.g.  swing set, dog, nearest stop sign).

I thought it might be interesting to offer a scavenger hunt based on the events of Holy Week.  You might work with one story each day from Palm Sunday until Easter, or you could do all the stories in one day, perhaps as your Good Friday devotion time.  Either way, it would be great if on Easter Saturday you posted the pictures you create on Facebook.

Palm Sunday palms-story

There is a version of the Palm Sunday in each of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) but they are not all the same.  If you asked four people to write a story about an event, each person would have their own style and approach.

One interesting example is that in Luke’s gospel, there is no mention of Palms. Instead, people took off their cloaks and lay them on the path ahead of Jesus.  You might want to read the story in all four gospels. You can find them here:

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Luke 19:28-44

John 12:12-19

If you are doing this with children, don’t read all four gospels to them!  (that would be a little much and since this is the first lesson you want to keep their interest!)  I suggest you stick with Matthew’s story.  If your children enjoy reading and you have a children’s Bible at home, you could perhaps read the story of Palm Sunday there.  If you do not have a children’s Bible, then here is a link to The International Children’s Bible which is found on BibleGateway.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21%3A1-11&version=ICB

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenges:

Young Children:  Set up a parade picture with Lego, Little People, or some other toys. See if you have a donkey, if not improvise!  You could also colour or cut out palm branches to be place in the picture.

Older children and adults:  pose or create a picture representing humbleness, kindness.

jerusalem templeMonday:  Jesus in the Temple

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke (which if you want to impress people, you could call them the Synoptic Gospels) the Palm Sunday story is followed by the account of Jesus going to the temple and “shaking things up”.  This story offers a glimpse as to why some people found Jesus challenging.  We often think of Jesus as being calm and gentle but this story shows that Jesus had a whole range of emotions, and sometimes he may have gotten frustrated.    

In this story, you will hear the word temple.  The temple was where the Jewish people went to worship but it was also a center of all kinds of activities.  During Jesus earthly life, people thought they needed to offer animal sacrifices to God because their prayers would go up to God with the smoke from the sacrifice.  It may sound silly to us now, but that was part of their tradition from a long time ago.  People would travel long distances to get to the temple, and when they arrived they would have to buy animals to make their sacrificial prayers.  It was acceptable to buy and sell animals in the temple.  Jesus objected to people taking advantage of others.  You had to have Jewish shekels to purchase animals at the temple, and the money-changers charge high rates of exchange for the Roman coins most people carried. They were money gouging!  If you are reading this story to children, I would suggest reading it from Matthew’s gospel.  You can find the story here:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21%3A12-15&version=ICB

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenge:

Take a photo of someplace you collect coins in your house. i.e. drawer, piggy bank; jar.

SedertableTuesday:  Preparing the Passover Meal

Jesus was a Jewish person who grew up with the traditions and customs of his culture.  Each year, Jewish people would celebrate the Passover.  Families and friends would come together for a special meal and remember the story of how God had helped their ancestors a long time ago.  The story of Jesus celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples is found in all four gospels.  You can find the story in these places

Matthew 26:17-30

Mark 14:12-25

Luke 22:7-20

John 13:1-30

Today we are only going to focus on a part of the story.  Today, our focus scripture will be Luke 22:7-13.  Here is a link to that story:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+22%3A7-13&version=ICB

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenge:

Take a photo of a dinner table set for either a meal or for tea.

Wednesday:  The Last Supperpicture-of-the-last-supper

We are going to continue the story of the Passover meal, which is the basis of our Christian tradition of communion.  As Jesus was eating with his disciples he took bread and wine and shared it with them.  In most of the gospels the story says that Jesus spoke of how the bread represents his body and the wine represents his blood.  When we share in communion we use bread and wine as symbols to remember God’s love for us.  God’s love nourishes our souls; God’s love helps to quench the deep thirst for love and meaning within our lives.

Today, we will read about the last supper here:  Luke 22:14-20.

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenge:

Take a photo of  bread and juice/wine.

maundy thursday clip artThursday:  Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is a special day set aside to remember the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet.  This story only happens in the gospel of John.  The way John tells the story, Jesus was having his least meal with his disciples when he decided to wash their feet.  Read the story as found at this link: John 13:4-17.

 

A little later in John’s gospel, Jesus gave his friends instructions of what they are supposed to do.  Some people might say that this is the Christian Mandate. Mandate means command, or rule to follow.  The word Maundy, for Maundy Thursday, comes from the same Latin word.  The Mandate Jesus gave his disciples is this:

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.  All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”  (John 13:  34-35)

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenges:

Younger children:  Take a photo of washing your feet or washing someone else’s feet

Older children/adults:  Take a photo to represent “Love one another”.

Good FridayGood Friday

This is a difficult day because the story of Good Friday is a sad story.  It is the story of Jesus dying.  Many people have asked why this day is called “Good” when it is actually a challenging day.  Some people will answer that question by saying that “the good” represents God.  Some people might even think that it was God’s plan for Jesus death to happen, but I don’t read the story that way.  The good that I can see in the story for today is that Jesus was willing to be a good follower of God’s way, even when the world was being mean.  I don’t think it was God’s plan for people to be mean to Jesus.  I don’t think God wanted people to hurt Jesus so badly that he died.  I think that God is love and that God wants us to show love to others.  Jesus didn’t lash out and hurt others when they were being mean to him.  Jesus didn’t say mean things when others were being rude.  Jesus continued to be faithful to God.  He continued to show love.  Jesus faced challenges with dignity.

This is a hard story to read and it is a long story.  The story of Jesus death is found in all four gospels.    All of the stories are long and I think they would be very disturbing for young children.  Before you read the story to a child make sure you read it yourself and decide if it is something you want to read with your child.  If you are comfortable, I would suggest reading from Mark’s gospel.  It is a shorter version. You can find it here:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark+15%3A6-47&version=ICB

If you find the story too difficult to read to your child then I might suggest you talk to your child about this story.  I have also written a “child-friendly” version:

Jesus was a teacher who taught people about God’s ways of love and justice.  He taught that all people were loved by God.  Rich people, poor people, sick people, healthy people,  old people, young people,  everyone is a wonderful child of God and loved by God.  Jesus also taught that we are to help one another.  Jesus was always going around helping people and he taught his followers that we were to do the same.  This sometimes challenged the leaders of his time because they liked to keep their own power and their own wealth.  Jesus teachings were so radical, that some people thought it would be better if they silenced him.

Jesus knew he was challenging some people but he would not stop talking about God’s love.  After he had had the special supper with his friends, Jesus went to a garden to pray.  While he was praying, some soldiers came and arrested Jesus.  They took him to the place where the Roman governor Pilate lived.  People saw Jesus being taken to Pilates place, and they started to yell at Jesus.  Some people were so mean, they called out “kill him”.

Pilate spoke to Jesus and Pilate couldn’t understand why the people were so upset.  He went out to the crowds of people who had gathered and said, “I don’t see anything wrong with this person.  He has done no wrong.”  The crowds would not listen.  They wanted Jesus silenced.  They were loud, and mean and Pilate listened to them instead of going with his own judgement.  Pilate decided to please the crowds so he told some soldier to take Jesus out to a hill and to crucify him.

The soldiers took Jesus and hurt his body.  They placed a crown of thorns on his head, they hurt his hands, his feet and they put him on a cross.  Jesus was so badly hurt that he died.

After he had died, some of Jesus friends took his body off the cross and they  put it in a cave.   Sometimes we say the cave was a tomb.  They put a great big rock in front of the entrance to the cave.  Jesus friends were very sad, and they were very scared.  It was a very awful day.

digital slr camera in hand clipartToday’s “Scavenger Hunt” Challenges:

Take photos of brokenness and sadness.  If this is too difficult for younger children you might ask them to draw a picture of what makes them sad.

 

facebook logoThank you for doing this Holy Week Scavenger Hunt with your family. Please take time to post your photos on Facebook, or send them to me at:  revlexie4@gmail.com