Messy Adventure # 2: Rainbow Connections

Messy Adventure # 2: Rainbow Connections

Aaron Jenkyn of Epiphany & St Andrew’s Episcopal in Newport, NH

Messy Adventure #2: Rainbow Connections

Four months have passed since March when Covid-19 first emerged and we all began the days of staying home. We are more mobile now, but for some of us, especially those that work in schools or churches, when we change our calendar in a few days, we will be tearing off the untouched pages from spring and early summer. Some days it feels as if time has stayed still, but for most of us this has been a turbulent time of isolation and uncertainty and not knowing when things would end.

During these days of uncertainty I have been thinking a lot about the story of Noah in the days after the flood when he was waiting for the waters to go down. Most of you will know this story. A very long time ago God saw all the violence and pain and hatred of the world and groaned in sorrow. So God made a plan and whispered it to Noah, and Noah and his family built an ark and they filled it with the animals of every kind and seeds of every kind and plants and trees. And then the rains started and didn’t stop until creation was undone. Noah and his wife and the animals were safe in the Ark, safe but afraid because the world they knew was gone. This whole time Noah and his family had to wait, even after the rain stopped falling they waited, sending out birds to fly over the earth looking for dry land, unsure of what would happen next.

I wonder how Noah and his family spent their time inside the ark? I wonder what they were thinking, what they were saying to God? I wonder if they thought about where God was and what God was doing. I wonder how many times they cried out “how long”?

We know the ending to this story, we know that a dove brought back an olive branch and that branch gave Noah and his family hope. We know that when Noah and his wife finally came off the ark that they built an altar and offered gifts of thanksgiving to God. And we know that God looked upon them and promised, never again to destroy life in this way. And as a sign of that special promise, of that covenant, God stretched a rainbow across the sky.

In our own lives this story encourages us to not despair, reminding us to look for the way through the situation, no mater how desperate, to a resurrection truth. We see God wherever we see light and hope during worrying times, and rainbows are a symbol of that hope. I wonder where you might be seeing rainbows these days, where do you see hope?

In the past few months people all around the world have decorated their houses and storefronts with rainbows to thank the doctors and nurses and front-line workers who are working tirelessly to help those in need and keep our communities running. Thousands of people have started sewing masks, delivered meals, and found ways to connect with their neighbors. The outpouring of love and support that we have seen locally and globally brings me hope. We haven’t quite found dry land yet, but the rainbows still stand, and if you open your eyes and your hearts you will see them everywhere.

Read the Story

Before you go Read the Story of Noah and the Flood:

Pay special attention to chapter 8, the time he spends waiting for the waters to recede.

Genesis 6:9-9:17

Listen to this Song

Rainbow Connection

Messy Activities

Activity #1: Go on a rainbow scavenger hunt!

This adventure can be done in your own backyard, at the park, in the woods, even in the city, I suspect you will be surprised at all the colors around you, when you take the time to stop and notice. You could even repeat this activity over and over and have an entirely different experience just by changing up your scenery.

Pick up a scavenger hunt kit at Epiphany or St. Andrew’s churches, kits are located in bin outside the front door, or you can make your own using a recycled egg carton. Collect found objects, from nature or man made to match each color in your carton. Once you have collected all the colors, sort them into a rainbow on a large piece of white paper.

Activity #2: Write a Rainbow Poem or Prayer

Once all the rainbows have been formed and you’ve had a chance to look at them, write a poem or a prayer about the colors, objects, or experience related to your rainbow. Feel free to write your own poem in whatever form or style you would like, or you can use the simile poetry template included with this activity.

Activity #3: Write a story

Write a story about a time that you saw a real rainbow and share it with your Messy Friends. 

Bonus Activity: Fun with Food

Bake rainbow cookies, or create a rainbow themed fruit plate to snack on while you explore. Learn more Here. 

Thank you Aaron and the Messy Folk of Epiphany and St Andrew’s for sharing this great On-Line Messy Church Experience. If you use these ideas, be sure to tag Epiphany and St Andrews Facebook Page.

Messy Toolbox

What does duct tape teach us our mission in Messy Church? What about a wrench?  Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator for the state of WA, shared a fun and inspiring Facebook Live on August 5th exploring her Messy Toolbox.  The good news is that even if you missed it live, you can still catch it on the Messy Church BRF Facebook Page.  Don’t miss it!

Check it out HERE.

Crystal, in the middle, with Messy Friends from South Africa at the MCIC 2019

Messy Church USA Webinar

Are you experiencing impatience with figuring out how to reach your Messy Folk? Frustrated that you don’t know how to make plans for the fall in this changing and uncertain time? Are you more than ready to be done with all of the complexities of planning during a pandemic?

Join us on Thursday, August 20th, at 10 am (PDT) to renew your spirit and learn some new spiritual practices. Rev. Nicole Reilley, a founding board member of Messy Church USA and teaching pastor of Valencia United Methodist in Valencia, CA,  will be sharing what she is learning about patience and spiritual habits during this pandemic. Bring your entire Messy Team! 

Cost: Individual $ 25.00, Team of 2-4 people is $ 40. Over four people to a team is an additional $ 5.00 per person. REGISTER HERE

Discount available for all Sustainer members of the Messy Church USA Network. Check with roberta@messychurchusa.org or Johannah@messychurchusa.org for details. 

August Messy Church of the Month

Congratulations to Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, our August Messy Church of the Month!

We are excited to announce our first ever Messy Church of the Month! Drum roll please…. Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Jennifer May, a lay member of the church who also teaches in the local school, led a small team in starting their Messy Church in March of 2018.  Jennifer describes their church as a small rural community in which her school age children are some of the only children in attendance on Sunday morning. Thanks Jennifer for answering our questions so that we can learn more about your Messy Church!  We are so glad that Freysville Emmanuel UCC reaching out to their community to share God’s love! 

Messy Folk answers to “What I like about Messy Church?” 

  • “I like all the stations, and the dinners are pretty good too!” 
  • “Getting the parachute out inside the church at the beginning!” 
  • “I like that it allows the gifts & talents of many people to shine.” 
  • “It gives my child the opportunity to learn about Christ in a warm, loving community where being themselves is celebrated.” 

Some Favorite Messy Activities 

 Parachute Prayers: 

Example # 1: Jesus, We Thank You:

Instructions: Have every person who is at Messy Church find a spot around the parachute. The leader starts the prayer and invites anyone standing around the parachute to call out something they are thankful for. After someone calls out, then the whole group raises the parachute up and chants “Jesus We Thank You!” as it gently comes back down. 

Example # 2 Snowball Prayer: 

Instructions: As everyone arrives, have them write or draw a picture of a joy, prayer, concern in 3 or fewer words onto a piece of white paper, crumple it into a loose “snow” ball and place it into a laundry basket. Have every person who is at Messy Church find a spot around the parachute. The leader dumps all the snowball prayers into the middle of the parachute. Direct the group to gently shake the parachute enough to mix up all the snowballs. Then on the count of 3, the whole group pulls the parachute slowly down to the floor and then quickly yanks the parachute back up into the air above their heads to make it “snow”! The snowballs are flying all over the  place! Everyone collects one snowball and then takes a seat on the floor around the parachute. One at a time, each person reads what is written on the snowball as a large group prayer. 

More Favorite Messy Activities! 

Messy Church ThanksGIVING:

Each November, our Messy Church service is a night of us giving instead of taking home crafts. We go home with empty hands but full hearts! Members from the church’s Sunday morning congregation sponsor and donate 12-15 “fleece blanket kits” purchased from a local fabric store. We come together with scissors and templates and spend the night cutting and looping the blankets to donate to our area chapter of Project Linus.

 Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides homemade blankets to children in need. The blankets are lovingly made by adults and children from all walks of life. Project Linus has specific directions on how to make blankets and what types they are allowed to accept on their website. https://www.projectlinus.org/​ 

This is an evening where all hands, young and old, are needed! 

Resurrection Garden: 

Each year for the Lenten Season, we set up a station where families can work together to create their own Resurrection Garden. They take it home to water and watch it grow every day for 40 days. 

 Materials Needed:Materials needed:8 in clay saucers, 3 in clay pots, potting soil, grass seed, craft stones, craft moss, 3 inch rocks flat circular shape work best, 4 inch stick crosses tied with twine  (See Pictures below)

What worked well for you in getting the support of your Sunday Church when you started Messy Church? 

Educating the congregation on the mission of Messy Church as well as the history, where and why it began and how it is meeting the needs of families and individuals in communities all over the world who for whatever reason, cannot or do not attend traditional Sunday Morning church services. 

Share a challenge you’ve had with your Messy Church and strategies you used to meet the challenge. 

Getting volunteers can be a challenge. So, I approached individuals in our Sunday congregation and personally asked them if they could volunteer. After their first experience, those individuals looked forward to volunteering each month! Most often, a personal invitation is all people need. 

How has your Messy Church adapted during the Covid-19 Pandemic? 

Our last in person Messy Church was Friday, March 13th. We were excited to kick off our 3rd year as a Messy Church! Little did we know, our messy togetherness would be put on hold for a little while. For the month of April, we put out a “Messy Church At Home” edition. We posted the theme and station material lists prior to the event so that families could plan ahead of time how they would do this in their own homes. Then, the day of our Messy Church, we posted an interactive Google Slideshow for families to work through at their own pace. The slides included a prerecorded welcome message, the story/scripture lesson, closing prayer, and a slide of directions for each station/activity. We had a few of our Messy Church families try it out! We took the month of May off and now are planning a “Messy Church in Bag” for the end of Summer. 

Thanks Jennifer for sharing your Messy Church story!  To learn more about Emmanuel UCC you can contact Jennifer at jmay@cysd.k12.pa.us

Website for Church: http://www.freysvilleucc.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emmanueluccfreysville/

April  2020 Online Messy Church shared with the June 30th Messy Church USA Now webinar

Who will be our September Messy Church of the Month? Stay tuned!

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Don’t Be Afraid…Really?

 A Sermon by Johannah Myers, Associate Director of Messy Church USA

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;

I John 4:18

There are certain things you can say to me that are guaranteed to have me doing exactly the opposite. Telling me to “calm down,” will not, in fact, help me calm down. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that telling anyone to “calm down” has never, in the history of the world, actually worked.

Right along with “calm down” come the equally useless phrases “don’t worry” and “chill” (or it’s companion, “relax, I’ve got this,” which is most often spoken by someone who rarely in fact has it…) – all phrases likely to have opposite effects. And of course, there’s the classic, “Don’t be afraid.”

Telling someone to not be afraid in the midst of a frightening situation seems about as useless as a back pocket on a t-shirt. Yet, it never seems to fail that as soon as we find someone in the Bible in times of disaster or at the start of a massive, impossible task, God shows up in one form or another and says, “don’t be afraid.”

The Israelites facing down Pharaoh’s army – don’t fear.

Daniel, facing off against lions or his buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in a fiery furnace – don’t fear.

Mary, surprise, I’m an angel of the Lord and oh by the way, you’re gonna have a baby by the Holy Spirit – but yeah, don’t be afraid.

Storm on the sea, Jesus says, “Why are you scared?”

Jesus tells his friends they’re going to be persecuted and he’s not going to be around anymore the way they’re used to, but hey, don’t let your hearts be troubled.

There are some who say that there’s a Bible passage telling us to not fear or not worry for every day of the year. The instruction to “not fear” certainly appears more frequently than any other. As if somehow telling us to not be afraid will actually help!

Frankly, fear is a fundamental reaction – it’s wired into our bodies. Some fear is instinctive; it helps us stay alive figuring out if we need to fight or flee. We are made to experience fear – and who designed our bodies? Who knitted us together in our mother’s womb? Who knows every part of us, in our inward-most parts? So why is God going around telling us to “not be afraid?”

Lord knows, 2020 has given us plenty to fear.

Murder hornets? We’re wired to feel fear.

Massive dust storm? Fear response engaged.

A global pandemic, with daily reports of the rising, massive loss of life making even the simplest of tasks like buying groceries or coming to church dangerous? Our bodies are going to send out warning signals to every part of our body.

Protests? Political unrest, economic uncertainty? We’re wired to feel fear.

As the popular meme goes, let’s look outside and see what chapter of Revelation we’re on today.

The writer of 1 John wrote to a community wracked by division and excessive pride and it’s into this brokenness he writes, “perfect love drives out fear.” God is love and God’s love is revealed to us in the sacrificial love of Jesus. When we abide in God – rather than in our own fear – love is our only course.

But here’s what God knows better than anyone. Yes, instinctive fear is helpful, life-saving. We have an intrinsic fear of pain to keep us out of painful situations. But fear’s a funny little emotion. Because a good deal of our fears are not actually instinctive, but are taught – life experiences and even cultural norms can teach us to be afraid of certain things, even certain people. Fear gets even trickier because it’s also partly imagined. In the absence of something genuinely scary, our brains will begin to imagine the worst. We literally – without even realizing it – can make ourselves afraid in anticipation of something that may or may not happen.

So along with the instinctive fears of 2020 like murder hornets and a global pandemic, we can add in the “what if” fears. What if this never ends? What if life never returns to normal? What if we really don’t get to sing together for 18 months? What if the economy doesn’t recover?

Because fear affects all of our body, from head to toe, it’s no surprise that it greatly influences how we react. Fear leads to heightened anger or anxiety and so we’re angry without even knowing why. Fear causes us to lash out, to make enemies of neighbors and friends. We hoard resources. We are rarely creative when we’re afraid, meaning we’re less likely to find new, innovative solutions or even, apparently, manage good, critical thinking skills. When fear takes over, we are not at our best selves.

You’re scared. I’m scared, too. If ever there was a season that’s given us plenty to actually fear alongside enough imagined or anticipated fears to last a lifetime, 2020 has been that season. Lord knows, we’ve seen fear in action over the past months, wreaking havoc in its wake.

Into our fear, God says “Do not be afraid.” Not because God doesn’t recognize or understand why we are afraid, but because God knows that being afraid won’t leads us to live the abundant life God wants for us. Instead, God says “don’t be afraid” as an invitation to abide in something far better.

Like telling me to calm down will quickly have me doing the opposite, God’s is also calling us to do the opposite of being afraid.

What is the opposite of fear? Bravery? Courage? Maybe. But the root of the word “courage” is the Latin word “cor” – heart. In a recent sermon, Lutheran preacher Nadia Bolz-Weber suggested that we see in the life and example of Jesus that “maybe the opposite of fear isn’t bravery. Maybe the opposite of fear is love.”[1]

The writer of 1 John wrote to a community wracked by division and excessive pride and it’s into this brokenness he writes, “perfect love drives out fear.” God is love and God’s love is revealed to us in the sacrificial love of Jesus. When we abide in God – rather than in our own fear – love is our only course. We’re right back where Pastor Michael left off last week – love God, love one another.

[1] https://nadiabolzweber.substack.com/p/be-not-afraid-um-yeahok

Have you noticed that when someone is scared, we call them “chicken?” Ironically, it’s a chicken – more specifically a mother hen – that Jesus compares himself to. And Jesus certainly wasn’t chicken! In times of danger, a mother hen will gather all her chicks under her wing, sheltering them from whatever danger persists. Her action does little to protect herself; indeed, farmers have found hens killed by fox or fire, whose chicks remain alive and well, safe in the shelter of their mother’s wings. Gives a whole new meaning to calling someone “chicken,” doesn’t it? Jesus, like a mother hen, didn’t act in fear; he acted in love and calls us to do the same.

In times of heightened fear, God pushes us to get to work, putting sacrificial love into action. Instead of fight or flight, God wants us to lean in, extravagantly serving our neighbors. God calls us to move beyond the “what ifs,” the anger, the “worst-case scenarios,” and to do the opposite – love.

I want to close this morning with the story of Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, examples of what sacrificial love looks like in the midst of great fear.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, Robert and Kenneth, both medics with the 101st Airborne Division, were dropped behind enemy lines in France. While the 101st and the 82nd Airborne divisions, worked to secure the roads for the incoming waves of troops arriving along the Normandy beaches, the medics were to provide first aide to their comrades. They found the village church in Angoville-au-Plain and set up a first-aid station. The fighting was intense. While the battle raged, the medics administered first aid, going out into the battle to search for wounded, bringing them back to the church in a wheelbarrow.

Even when the Allies lost their tenuous hold on the area, Robert and Kenneth continued to work in little church, treating the wounded in their care.  The Germans left the Americans alone to work because they realized quickly the men were offering medical care to anyone brought to them, no matter their uniform. They treated American soldiers, French villagers, and German soldiers, never discriminating between friend or foe. For three days, they worked tirelessly with hardly any supplies to save anyone who came in the door of the church. They only required that everyone leave their weapons outside the door.

At some point, a mortar shell hit the roof of the church. There’s still a crack in the stone floor where the shell fell – and remained, unexploded. After witnessing this hit – one that should have taken out the whole church but didn’t – 2 German soldiers came out of the bell tower where they’d been hiding and surrendered to Kenneth and Robert. The medics promptly put the men to work helping treat the wounded.

When the battle ended and the dust settled over Angoville-au-Plain, 80 lives had been saved, American, German, and French. Despite having received very little medical training before they deployed, Robert and Kenneth only lost three people.

I first heard the story of these brave medics in 2017, standing inside the little church which still has bloodstains on the pews. There’s a newer stained glass window that replaced one damaged in the war. It simply reads “greater love has no one than he lay down his life for his friend.”

2020 has been a most difficult year. We haven’t parachuted into flooded bogs and intense fighting – but we’ve had plenty to fear, real or anticipated. Into our fear, God says to each of us – to all of us – “Do not be afraid.” Now is not the time for fight or flight. Now is the time to buckle down and get to work putting sacrificial love into action at every opportunity – to be “chickens,” if you will, mother hens willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole. And in loving God and loving one another, love will cast out fear.

Sermon preached on July 5th, 2020 at Aldersgate United Methodist in Greenville, SC.

Thanks Johannah for sharing your words of courage with Messy Church USA. You can reach Johannah at Johannah@messychurchusa.org.  

July 23rd Messy Church USA Town Hall Conversation

Our first Messy Church Town Hall conversation happened on Thursday July 23rd.  A group of 12 people from Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Oregon and Washington met for a time of sharing ideas of how they are connecting with Messy Folk currently and their plans for the next phases of the pandemic. 

Priming the Pump for Conversation

Roberta shared a bit to prime the pump for our conversation. We began with a focus on the ‘in-between’ time that we find ourselves living in.  Usually we think of ‘in-between’ or liminal time of being a short duration but this pandemic has brought a deeper understanding of what it means to live in the in-between time. Check out Recording Here

Messy Church began as a new expression of church as a way to engage with people who were not connecting more traditional forms of church.  Since the beginning, Messy Church has been adaptable so that it can be contextualized.  The main constant of Messy Church are the five foundational values of All Ages together, creativity, hospitality, celebration and Christ- Centered. Keeping those five values  in mind, what are the possibilities for Messy Church in the various stages of this COVID pandemic?

  • Possibility # 1- In-person Messy Church when able to safely meet:
    • Messy Folk who come together get a box of supplies at the beginning rather than having supplies at activity tables
    • Messy Church Outside
    • Rather than people moving from table to table, groups remain in place the table hosts move from group to group to lead activities and games
    • Reservations/ tickets to limit number of people at Messy Church
  • Possibility # 2- Hybrid (On-line and smaller groups in person) Messy Church)
    • Intergenerational Messy Church Small Groups meet in homes
    • Connecting the smaller groups once per month with an on-line Celebration
    • Pre-recorded Messy Church with lists/ bags of activities for Messy Folk. Activity bags either picked up at church or delivered to homes to have some in-person connection
  • Possibility # 3- All On-Line Messy Church
    • Zoom Messy Church
    • Facebook Live Messy Church
    • Pre-recorded Messy Church with links sent out to Messy Folk
    • Read More Here

Messy Town Hall Conversation

  • Messy Adventure from Epiphany Episcopal in NH- List of scripture, activities featuring local outdoor attractions. (insert PDF)
  • From Dallas Oregon- A Chalk Art festival in the church parking lot- people have their own space to make their chalk art
  • From South Carolina- On-Line Messy Church starting a week of on-line Vacation Bible School. Have had good engagement with zoom Messy Church.  Churches are beginning to meet in person in South Carolina which brings challenges to in-person Messy Church 
  • From Washington- Messy Church team would prefer to be in person but this pandemic has enlivened and brought new enthusiasm to the team. One member has taken over the prayer time and another has become the storyteller for the zoom on-line Messy Church
  • From Michigan- Messy Church only met twice before pandemic and some discouragement that people are not connecting on-line. However, has had good engagement with weekly Wednesday on-line lesson- using stories and activities from Heifer International that were given to family units. Positive response to a FB ad about an on-line Messy Church- received 31 one new likes and follows from the local community
  • From Florida- looking for ways to connect and do outreach to community. Group encouraged to build on things you are already doing i.e. weekly pastor chat to include a weekly or monthly chat with messy church community

As always it was good to connect and share ideas and stories. Join us at future Town Hall Conversations. Here is a list of resources to help you in your own planning. 

Next time I will hopefully remember to hit record at the beginning!

Grace and Peace, Roberta

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Good News! On-line Messy Church makes a Difference!

A Story from Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator in Washington

I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and send you peace from Auburn, Washington.

It was suggested that I write up a little blurb and send you the sweet story of a family that uses our online Messy Church to see each other. I hope you enjoy this touching story.

For over a year, a grandmother, Jimmie, has been bringing her grandsons to Messy Church..It’s has been their time, once a month to spend some quality time learning about Jesus together.  Then…COVID-19 hit and Jimmie had to be quarantined away from them because she has some very dangerous risk factors and her daughter, the mother of the two boys is a public school speech therapist and at the time had direct daily exposure to people, preventing Jimmie from being with the family.

When Messy Church online started, she was thrilled.  This was the first opportunity she had to see her grandsons for weeks.  She specifically learned to use Zoom so that she could be a part of our online Messy Church.  The boys log on with their Mom and Jimmie logs on from her home and guess what?  They are a family again!  It’s a beautiful thing to watch how joyful this family is together in the presence of Jesus.

I just thought I would share with you this happy story of what continuing to meet at Messy Church, albeit online, can do for those in our Messy Churches.

Crystal and our Swedish friends and colleagues Olle and Mikael at the Messy Church International Conference 2019 (when we could be together!)

Crystal is the Children and Youth Director at Auburn First United Methodist Church in Auburn, Washington. She led a team in starting a Messy Church three years ago and is our Regional Coordinator of Washington. You can connect with her at Crystal@messychurchusa.org.

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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Summer Activities

i Stock

A Great Idea from Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Episcopal, Newport, NH

When churches closed in March our Messy Church family stayed in touch with each other via e-mail, snail mail and on Facebook but we never really found a way to connect as a group. As we began to discuss reopening, we began to think creatively about how Messy Church might be able to meet outdoors.  Living in the beautiful state of New Hampshire where there are many treasured outdoor spaces to explore, it seemed only natural to share these places and experiences with our Messy Church families. People can choose to do these activities on their own, with their families, or in small groups, however they feel most comfortable.  Some of these activities will be destinations, others will be activity based and can be done closer to home.

For each adventure we will offer activities, a reflection and a biblical story or theme to ground the experience. We are leaving room to let this program be shaped by the community. Our hope is that in time we will partner with Messy Church families to create these adventures, and that others will join in by posting their pictures on Facebook, creating a sort of hybrid Messy Church experience.

Stay tuned to see where the journey takes us, you can follow along on the Facebook page for Epiphany or St Andrews.  

Messy Adventure# 1 is based on this verse from Isaiah 40: 31:those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,they shall mount up with wings like eagles,they shall run and not be weary,they shall walk and not faint.” 

Download the PDF below. 

All-Ages Together  Summer Prayers

Even though my youngest son is a young adult, one of our favorite summer activities is roasting hot-dogs over a campfire and  enjoying S’more’s together.  So I was excited when I came across a post from Christine V. Hides and the idea of a family prayer based S’more ingredients. Check it out  here. 

Have you prayed with a beach ball before? You may not be able to get together in person to play this but you could use these different examples via on-line or perhaps you can find some beach balls at a dollar store and print out the prayer to send in a take home bag to your Messy Folk.  Here are a few Beach Ball Prayers:

If you need some more Messy Folk Summer activities, check out these 24 Wild and Wet Messy Folk Activities HERE.

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

Logo Messy Church NOW

We had a great representation from all over the USA at the recent Messy Church NOW zoom webinar.  Messy Church leaders representing 25 churches from 16 different states and 5 denominations signed on to hear Jennifer May, Johannah Myers and Leyla Wagner share what they have learned in facilitating their Messy Church in a physically distanced world. 

Highlights from presentations

Jennifer used her teacher expertise to create a google slide show with recorded videos, activities and games that she emailed to her Messy Folk to use at home at their convenience. To keep the experience interactive, she provided a ‘would you rather’ game at the beginning that is the usual start to their in-person Messy Church. She vulnerably shared that it was difficult for her to get past her anxiety of seeing herself on a recording at the beginning which resonated with many of us on the zoom call. Taking risks and placing ourselves into new situations can be an uncomfortable experience. Jennifer leads Messy Church at Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in rural Red Lyon, PA.

Leyla shared how their Messy Church has evolved as they have learned from each iteration of their Messy Church.  Their first COVID-19 Messy Church was a 15-minute zoom celebration worship that ended up lasting almost 45 minutes because people were so happy to see each other.  Since then, they have kept adapting their monthly on-line Messy Church. Their most recent Messy Church included an introduction video from their pastor emailed out one week prior, an activity bag that people came to the church parking lot to pick up, and a zoom community Messy Church that included doing activities together,  worship with favorite songs, and break out rooms to share reflections from questions. Leyla is from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach, CA. favorite songs.

Johannah kept their first on-line zoom Messy Church short and simple.  The scripture story from Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was read by Johannah after a time of welcome.  After the story, Johannah led everyone through making a hat of flaming tongues of fire out of a paper place, scissors and colored pencils and folding an origami dove from one piece of paper. Keeping the supply list simple was important.  To connect Messy Folk with Sunday morning worship, people were encouraged to drop off their origami doves at the church which were then placed in the worship space for the Sunday traditional recorded worship. Although the Messy Church zoom crowd was a bit smaller than their usual in-person Messy Church, those who participated ranged in age from toddler to over 70 years… a truly intergenerational experience!  Johannah is from Aldersgate United Methodist in Greenville, SC.

Some Messy Church NOW Ideas for you

Throughout the presentations and after, the chat room was busy with people sharing their own experiences of how they have continued to bring their Messy Church communities together over the past four months. Here are a few evaluation responses to the question, what are you key takeaways?  

  • We are all in the same boat. We try things and adjust accordingly. None of us has the “perfect” answer, we just keep working at it to reach people and have connection. 🙂
  • We had not considered recording our event so people who cannot attend live could come. What a great idea. As well as the ideas for how to share their crafts if they aren’t live with us.
  • Ideas, but most of all hope and strength – not in this aloneI

We are planning more webinars for the future so that we can continue to connect as we all experiment with ways to adapt our Messy Church during this weird time in history. Share your stories with us via Facebook or email roberta@messychurchusa.org.

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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

Roberta J. Egli

“We are made in the image of God, and God is the great Creator of new things and re-creator of people and communities who are broken. As we create and play together, we echo (God’s) creativity and we are renewed and repaired ourselves.”

Lucy Moore, Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ- Centered Community

My husband is the gardener in our family! He patiently plants bulbs and waits for them to spring up out of the ground.  He gave up on a few bulbs he planted earlier this spring only to be surprised when a little green shoot came out of the ground much later than he expected.  The growth that was occurring underneath the ground was beyond our visual perception.

As I engage in conversations regarding what is next for Messy Church in the USA, as well as the global community, I wonder how God is creating something new, even though we may not perceive it.  I wonder if the anxiety that I feel arising from the unknown to the many complex questions regarding how Messy Church adapts to our changed world blocks me from placing my trust in our creator God.  Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Messy Church USA board member, shared in her recent sermon on July 12 that “we need to look to God rather than the past or the future…we are to live in the in-between space trusting in God.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Trusting in our Creator God and grounding ourselves in the messy foundational value of creativity, I am wondering….

  • What are the most effective ways our Messy Church USA network to engage with one another to learn from one another and to perceive the movement of the Spirit?
  • What kind of resources do local church Messy Leaders and the households they engage with need at this time?  How can we most effectively provide those resources without overwhelming overworked people engaged in ministry?
  • How can we equip local Messy Churches to engage with their Messy folk through on-line, in-person or hybrid experience?
  • How do we stay grounded in our five values of Hospitality, Creativity, Celebration, All-Ages Together and Christ Centered as we experiment with new forms of Messy Church?
  • How do we envision new ways of being Messy Church in our changed world?
  • What are the spiritual practices that we need so that we can more clearly perceive God’s presence and guidance for our ministry?

On July 23rd at 10 am Pacific time, you are invited to a Messy Church USA Zoom town hall to engage with the above questions as well as questions that you bring to the conversation.  Here is a link to the Zoom invitation. 

My friends, this is a difficult time.  This is the first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that we have had to navigate.  Many of us who work in the church, use the summer to plan out the worship and curriculum for the coming school year.  However, everything is constantly changing which causes our plans to not be relevant in just a few short days or week.  Let us place our trust in our Creator God who is making something new that we cannot even imagine right now.  Let us live in a sense of curiosity rather than anxiety as we experiencing the unfolding of the next weeks and month.   I look forward to our ongoing conversations as I hold you in prayer this day.

Prayer: As you find yourself in times of uncertainty, may you perceive God creating a new thing within your life and community. In the places that are broken, may you experience the healing power of Christ. In the spaces where community is being re-created, may you place your trust in God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. May your spirit be renewed as you place your trust in the God of Love.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,  Roberta

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