July 2019 “Who am I”

Archive for all-ages worship

July 2019 “Who am I”

A Blog Post by Steve Kim

“Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11 CEB

During the 2nd day morning reflection of the Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hertfordshire, UK, I found myself at a sacred space. The morning reflection was about Moses meeting God in a “burning bush” recorded in the third chapter of Exodus. On that day, I encountered God and numerous co-workers of Christ getting together to do “messy” things for the glory of God. It is fitting to believe that a divine encounter is “messy.” Why a “burning bush?” Also, it is appropriate to assume that a journey with God is “messier.” The story of Moses gets better as his ministry and walking with God get messier, e.g., splitting and crossing the Red Sea, transforming a snake into a staff, striking a rock to draw water, gathering ‘manna’ each day, wandering around in a wilderness, etc. The three-day conference was too short capturing the messiness of the Messy Church while too wide, embracing the creativity and joyfulness manifested in participants from all over the world! I was surely at a holy place.

Two highlights that emerged for me throughout the MCIC weekend were the presentations by Claire Dalpra and Andrew Roberts. Dalpra shared her reflections as the project lead for a two year research project of Messy Churches in the United Kingdom by Church Army research. The study included interviews with 174 Messy Church leaders with an additional 29 leaders engaged in a regional focus group. It also included interviews with Messy Church participants of adults, children and youth and with those who were no longer involved in Messy Church. The outcome of the research? Evidence to celebrate that Messy Church is reaching families who are new to church and Messy Church is growing disciples of Jesus Christ. The research also indicated that being intentional about discipleship in Messy Church is important- it doesn’t happen automatically. You can check out the summary of the research Playfully Serious: How Messy Churches Create New Space for Faith

To complement the results of Playfully Serious, was a presentation by Andrew Roberts, an author of Holy Habits.   Roberts explored the methodology of discipleship based on the practices of the early church recorded in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Both Dalpra and Roberts helped to answer the question “Can Messy Church make disciples?”  They both answered with a strong YES as they drew a beautiful picture depicting the animating of the Holy Spirit through the fresh expression of being the church for today.  As I have been preparing  our team to launch Messy Church in  Long Island, NY, I have also asked the question, ‘can Messy Church make disciples” and these two presentations were  like a guidepost helping me discover where to go from here and now.

“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?”

Steve Kim

“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?” As reluctant as Moses was, I found myself in this sacred space, instead of breathing out confusion, hesitancy, and anxiety, but by breathing in possibilities, hopes, and joys from the conference, ready to embrace the journey lies ahead, launching and building Messy Church! It was an awestruck and heartwarming moment to see many participants enjoying the Kin-dom celebration with each other in joy, peace, hope, and love. I was no longer a stranger in the room, but one of the beloved children of God getting ready to be messy. My heart was overwhelmed with anticipation and expectation that God, who called Moses, is also calling me to do great and messy things for God and the people of God.

After the conference, I had a moment of sudden revelation (an epiphany) that the word “messy” is not ‘just’ an adjective describing a status of something of disoriented and untidy things but an adverb expressing joyful actions of leaders who envision bringing people of God closer to God alone.

So, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“Who am I to go to people and to build the Messy Church?”

Here I am, send me.

Rev. Steve Kim is the pastor at Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor United Methodist Church. He is working with a team to begin a Messy Church at his church after sponsoring a ‘Getting Started Training’ workshop in his district. He was one of the seven delegates from the Untied States who attended MCIC 2019. He has recently begun his D Min with the intention of studying Messy Churches within the United States.

Steve Kim and family

A Messy Interview: Part 2

Blog Post by Lindsey Goodyear

Last month, I did an interview with one half of the incredible duo that started the Messy Church in my hometown.  Leyla Wagner sat down to fill me in on the experience she had while across the pond at the Messy Church International Conference in London.  This month, I get another perspective, on the same questions, when Leyla’s partner in crime sits down to share what she brought home from the UK.  Please enjoy this interview with Marty Drake from Huntington Beach UMC.

Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake
Traveling Home after MCIC 2019

Lindsey:  This is your second trip across the pond for Messy Church, how was this time different from the last?

Marty:  The first time we were so new at doing Messy Church I just kind of was in awe of the whole thing.  This time I felt a little more confident with my understanding of Messy Church.  At the first conference the focus was more on the foundation of Messy Church.  This year the focus was on the where Messy Church has been and where it is going and the impact that the movement has had on people’s lives.

Lindsey:  I’m sure there were familiar faces, were you able to network with any new Messy friends?

Marty:  Yes there were plenty of times to network with everyone.  When we all met as a large group they gave us three specific questions about our own Messy Churches.  We were to move around and share answers with 3 other people.  That was really helpful because everyone has some very creative ideas.  Meal times were also a really good time to meet others from all around the world and to hear and learn about how Messy Church was going for them and just to connect with people in general.  The power of communing over a meal was very apparent which is why it is such an integral part of Messy Church.

Lindsey: You’ve mentioned to me that this convention was rejuvenating.  What do   you, personally, feel fueled your passion for Messy Church the most?

Marty:  Being with people who are very passionate about Messy Church.  Being with people who see the value of Messy Church.  Being able to worship in a way that is full of life and positive energy.

 Lindsey:  What was your favorite activity at the international conference?

Marty:  There were a few.  I love singing with Stephen of Fischy Music.  Worship led by Martyn Payne.  His storytelling is amazing and powerful!  Our closing worship with communion was very meaningful.  We got together in groups and each group created one point of the star which shared what they felt the Angel of God was telling the global Messy Church.  Then we brought them all together to make one star.  We shared communion together and ended it with some wonderful music.  It was not a quiet somber worship with communion.

“What is the Angel of God Saying to Messy Church”
Final Worship at MCIC

Lindsey:  Anything you’re planning on using at our own Messy Church that you learned while there?

Marty:  We had the author, Andrew Roberts, of the book Holy Habits speak to us.  His book looks at a passage in Luke on the 10 Holy Habits.  These 10 Holy Habits will help those that come to Messy Church, as well as those who help with Messy Church, deepen their faith and share it with others.  I think we will take a look at these throughout the year.  I also think we came back with some ways to help empower those that attend Messy Church so that they feel a greater sense of belonging not just attenders.

Lindsey:  I know Stephen was there rocking and rolling.  Any new Fischy Music that’s a must have?

Marty:  Yes he was rocking and rolling.  I just love his music.  So beautiful, simple, yet a solid message in each song.  And, fun!  We can’t forget they are fun and can get you moving!  There isn’t one that you shouldn’t have.

Lindsey:  What was your biggest takeaway from your experience in London?

Marty:  At some point during the conference it occurred to me that all Messy Churches have the five values and components but that each one is unique.  They all take on the personality of their community.  I realized that our Messy Church could be a little different from others and that was the beauty of Messy Church.  It was very freeing and reassuring.

Lindsey:  Do you think you’ll attend the next international convention?

Marty:  I would love to attend and hope I get to.  For me there was so much learning but it was also spiritually renewing. 

Lindsey:  We will host one in the states before then.  Is there anything you particularly loved that we will see incorporated into out next convention?

Marty:  I would like to see us end the conference with a closing worship which includes communion. We also had an opportunity for the leaders of the countries to come together.  I would like to be able to have people have an opportunity to meet with others in their region to come together so they could connect with each other.

Lindsey:  I was so sad to miss the trip so, just for fun, what was your favorite meal while there?

Marty:  Breakfast everyone morning.  Nothing like a great bowl of oatmeal to start your day.  And the British like their beans at breakfast and so do I.  I’m weird like that!

iStock Baked beans on wholewheat toast, on a green plate.

Scatter Seeds Recklessly…Trust God

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) Reflections 

Part 4 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

Following the first international conference in 2016, the four USA delegates returned and brought others into the conversation as to how we could create a  structural ‘trellis’ to help support and encourage  the healthy growth of Messy Church in the USA.  We have been busy listening to one another as we implemented a vision for a nonprofit whose mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect with other Messy Churches in the United States.

This year, our delegation met on Sunday afternoon with Canon Richard Fisher, chief executive of Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), Jay Elliot, head of finance & operations BRF, and Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church.  We wanted to take advantage of their wisdom and expertise as we move forward as an organization.  Richard shared a central core of their philosophy from the very beginnings of the Messy Church movement which was to TRUST the movement of the spirit in the growth of Messy Church.   He also shared the importance of focusing on the foundational values of Messy Church.

Front Row L-R: Jay Elliot, Maureen Carey, Leyla Wagner, Marty Drake, Steve Kim
Back Row L-R: Lynn Egli, Crystal Goetz, Richard Fisher, Roberta Egli, Lucy Moore

I resonated with a quote Richard shared that he had heard the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams once share that helped to guide him as a leader of BRF and for the team of Messy Church…“Go where the ground is already tilled”.  I pondered that quote for several days. As a leader of Messy Church, I was inspired by the quote that speaks of trusting God to do the work of preparing the way but as a farmer’s daughter I wondered how I was to discern ‘how we as an organization was to know where the ground was already tilled… how are we to find those places where God has prepared a way forward?

Several days later, at 36,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, I had one of those God moments when I was journaling about this conversation. I remembered that several years ago, Lucy shared the parable of the soils at the first Getting Messy in the USA conference.  I realized that our task as Messy Church USA is to scatter the seeds as liberally and recklessly as the sower of the seeds in the parable when the seeds fell on rocky, sandy, weedy and good soil.  It is God’s work to till the soil but it is our task to scatter the seeds.

We scatter seeds by sharing the stories of how lives are changed in Messy Church through workshops, social media, and videos. We scatter seeds by engaging in leadership development for Messy Church teams. We scatter seeds by sharing dynamic best practices training for those churches wanting to start their own local Messy Church.  Some of the seeds will fall on the good soil which will be the place where we are led!

i stock

You will continue to hear stories from the USA delegates to the MCIC 2019 conference.   Check here to read an interview with Leyla Wagner that has already been posted. Hearing stories is important for the work of Messy Church.  I want to hear your stories! How are you messily scattering seeds of good news at your Messy Church?  

Messy Blessings, Roberta

Messy Church is a gift…

Messy Church International (MCIC) 2019 Reflections

Part 2 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church
Opening Session MCIC 2019

A big takeaway that I came home with came from the opening session of the MCIC 2019 conference.  In reflecting on the past, present and future of the Messy Church Movement, Lucy shared the idea that…Messy Church is a gift that is given to the universal church. The gift is given freely to be used in small and large churches, rural and urban settings, from a small village in England to the large metropolis of Los Angeles. Messy Church is a gift!

Looking back, we are a very young movement. In April 2019, Messy Church turned 15 years old…we are a teenager and very young in the long life of the Christian church.  According to Lucy, from the very start of Messy Church, there has been a common value of listening…listening deeply to God and to one another. 

For today, Lucy challenged us to stop using the term ‘just’.  I am ‘just’ a volunteer at Messy Church…I am ‘just’ a lay leader…I ‘just’ help with the meal at Messy Church, etc. She effectively banned us from using the word “just” for the weekend. Rather than humbly saying ‘just’ we were to boldly proclaim that we are all instrumental in re-imagining what church can be.  We are using our unique gifts to build on the past to be the church for today and to become the church of the future.

Ban the word “just” from your vocabulary…rather than saying “I just sweep up after Messy Church each month, boldly proclaim the gifts that you bring and use to make Messy Church what it is.

Lucy Moore, Opening Session of MCIC 2019 (not a verbatim quote but shared in the spirit of what she said)

As for where we are going, the idea that Messy Church is a gift to the universal church is a message of hope.  In my years of leading a local church, I have attended a variety of church conferences where we have commiserated over the doomsday predictions of the death of the church. How inspiring it was to engage in conversations regarding the gifts of Messy Church for today and for a joyous future. 

I wrote in my notes– “it is not about competing with the traditional church but about blessing the traditional church with the gift of Messy Church.”  What a wonderful way to view Messy Church!   What are the concrete ways Messy Church is blessing the universal church? 
Throughout the weekend, these are a few of the gifts that I discovered: Stories of hope where relationships were built through simple table activities, in the analysis of the 2 year research project completed by Church Army titled, Playfully Serious,(look for more posts about that later),and  through listening, asking and discovering new ways to be an intergenerational movement filled with joyful abundance.

At the end of her talk, Lucy placed a simple wooden cross that was created at the closing worship at the first international Messy Church conference three years ago  at the center of the stage and asked shared these final reflections. 

  • The horizontal arms of the cross point outward…How are we being called to resources of hope reaching outward to the broader church and the greater world?
  • The vertical cross points upward reminding us to be open to God’s Inspired Breath that has brought Messy Church into a movement. How do we as a movement continue to listen to God, listen to one another and trust God in Messy Church?
  • The vertical cross points downward reminding us of the call to deepen our lives of faith. How is Messy Church being called to plumb the depths of intergenerational discipleship?  How is God leading us into the depths of re-imagining the church for today?

Much food for thought!  My question for you—How are you sharing the gift of Messy Church to your local community and to the broader universal church?

Messy Blessings, Roberta

A Messy Interview- MCIC 2019

Blog post by Lindsey Goodyear who interviewed Leyla Wagner, Messy Church USA Board of Directors, California Messy Church USA Regional Co-Coordinator. 

Messy Church USA (MCUSA) Delegation at Messy Church International Conference 2019 with Messy Church/ Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) Leaders
Front row L-R: Jay Elliot(BRF), Maureen Carey-Back (VA), Leyla Wagner(CA), Marty Drake(CA), Steve Kim(NY)
Back row L-R: Lynn Egli(OR), Crystal Goetz(WA), Canon Richard Fisher (BRF), Roberta Egli(OR), Lucy Moore(BRF)

Last month, some of our Messy team members attended the highly anticipated Messy Church International Conference in London. Because I was unable to attend, I decided to pick the brain of one of my favorite Messy friends and see just how much fun I missed out on. Please enjoy this interview with Leyla Wagner from Community United Methodist Church (CUMC) in Huntington Beach, CA!

Lindsey: This is your second trip across the pond for Messy Church, how was this time different from the last?

Leyla: Three Years ago, we had only been doing Messy Church for three years when we went. There weren’t really any other Messy Churches around, and, it was before MCUSA was even a thought, so our CUMC team was really on our own. We were drawing from training and using print and online resources in figuring out Messy Church. It was amazing being around the energy and excitement of others hosting Messy Churches and realizing we were part of a bigger community. We learned so much and realized that our joys and challenges were similar to many. This time I didn’t expect as much excitement. We’ve had Messy Church at CUMC for 6 years now…and the oldest Messy Churches in the UK are celebrating 15 years! I was amazed because the excitement and energy was not only still there, but it was just as high. Rather than just talking about the nuts and bolts of Messy Church, this time conversations focused on sharing stories of seeing how Messy Church is transforming the lives of people who are attending and how it is making an impact worldwide.

Lindsey: I’m sure there were familiar faces, were you able to network with any new Messy friends?

Leyla: It’s funny…I only saw a couple of people that I had met the first time even though I heard many times from people I was in conversation with that they had also been there for the first conference….we hadn’t connected. So actually, this time I feel like I made many more Messy Friends than before. I even met two more people from the US. I felt a stronger connection to people this time and I think it’s because we were sharing deeper stories, not just nuts and bolts stories…and many were part of leadership teams for their countries so it was interesting to learn more about their experiences with the bigger church, as well.

Lindsey: You’ve mentioned to me that this convention was rejuvenating. What do you, personally, feel fueled your passion for Messy Church the most?

Leyla: I was rejuvenated by so many things! I loved hearing the research that supports what we are what the leading Messy Churches are seeing…that what we are doing is making a difference, making disciples and that Messy Church is church! We are re-imagining church…possibly changing it to be something God can use to reach people today. I also liked hearing the journey of the past 15 years and realizing how much has been accomplished from this “Grass Roots/organic” movement in such a short time. Lastly, I feel called to be a part of Messy church but often worry that I don’t have a background or enough bible/theological knowledge to be “leading” Messy Church. During one reflection, Martyn Payne told the story of Moses and the burning bush and we sang a wonderful Fischy Music song so I left feeling that I have everything I need to do what I’m being called to do because God is behind me, beside me and in front of me.

“God is at the Center of this Messy Church journey”

Leyla Wagner

Lindsey: What was your favorite activity at the international conference?

Leyla: Again, there were many activities I really liked. I loved the key speakers, reflections, prayer stations and, I enjoyed meeting people and sharing stories. But, my favorite activity was the add-on day (Monday) that was only for leadership teams from all the different countries. We broke into small groups being made up of representatives from all countries there and gave input on questions Messy Church BRF asked. It really felt like an International experience and I liked hearing perspectives from all over the world.

Lindsey: Anything you’re planning on using at our own Messy Church that you learned while there?

Leyla: Andrew Roberts is the author of a book called Holy Habits. It’s based on the passage written by Luke in Acts 2 42-47 and focus’ on creating deep and committed disciples by practicing and living out the 10 Holy Habits. These include: Biblical Teaching, Breaking Bread, Eating Together, Fellowship, Gladness and Generosity, Making more Disciples, Prayer, Serving, Sharing Resources and Worship. These Holy Habits align with the values of Messy Church, and are applicable and easily accessible to all-ages. This year the Get Messy Magazine, which provides monthly curriculum resources to Messy Churches, will be focusing on a different Holy Habit each month. We will most likely use these and the other supplemental for deepening the quality of our own Messy Church.

Lindsey: I know Steven Fischbacher founder of Fischy Music  was there rocking and rolling! Any new Fischy Music that’s a must have?

Leyla: ALL Fischy Music is a MUST HAVE!  (Note from Roberta Egli– Check out a video of Steven leading our final song at the conference Here)

Lindsey: What was your biggest takeaway from your experience in London?

Leyla: That God is at the Center of this Messy Church journey.

Lindsey: Do you think you’ll attend the next overseas international convention?

Leyla: Well, I would love to be able to attend the next International Conference in 3 years. So much has happened in the three years since the last International Conference it’s hard to imagine where we’ll be in 3 more years. Marty and I met Roberta and Julie at that first International Conference. We came home and hosted the first National Messy Church Conference a year and a half later while working with Robera, Julie, Lynn, Nicole and Lucy to start MCUSA. Anyway…..I think attending an International Conference helps us as local Messy Church leaders to feel connected to the bigger Messy Church organization and share in the excitement. But, it’s also helpful for our roles in Messy Church USA.

Lindsey: We will host one in the states before then. Is there anything you particularly loved that we will see incorporated into out next convention?

Leyla: Yes, we are hoping to host a National Conference in the Fall of 2020 and there are definitely things that we will incorporate but those will be decided by the MCUSA team and Conference Planning Team. One thing that came out of this International Conference that will be incorporated into our National Conference, and highlighted even more in training across the US, is the best practices for starting a sustaining a Messy Church…which starts with training. (Check out Messychurchusa.org for a training near you!) Haha!

Lindsey: I was so sad to miss the trip so, just for fun, what was your favorite meal while there?

Leyla: Ah, we were really sad that you couldn’t make it, too. My favorite meal was the last one of the trip. Roberta and I both had Fish and Chips. So good! (She has a great picture of them.) Hey…just wondering…will YOU make the trip in three years?

Lindsey: Given how much time I spent stalking the conference on Facebook, I think it’s a definite yes!

Last Meal in UK! Fish and Chips with peas! Yummy!

Sign up today for the upcoming May Events

There is still time to register for the Kingston, New York and Waterloo, Illinois Getting Started in Messy Church Training Events coming up SOON! 
Attending the Getting Started in Messy Church Training as a team increases your effectiveness in starting you own Messy Church. Although the title is about ‘starting’, your team will find this training valuable even if you have been leading a Messy Church. Connecting with others who are starting or continuing their Messy Church is a strong indicator that you will be successful in this exciting way of being church.

Kingston New York on May 11th: This training on May 11th will be led by Julie Hintz and is at Kingston United Methodist Church in Kingston, New York.  Click Here to register.

Waterloo, Illinois on May 18th: Roberta Egli will lead this church at St Paul’s United Church of Christ in Waterloo, Illinois. Waterloo is only 30 minutes from St. Louis. Register Here.

  • Upcoming Training Events
    • Williamsburg, Virginia on June 29th
    • Michigan City, Indiana on August 10th
    • Mt Dora, Florida on September 21
    • Huntington Beach, California on October 12th
    • Your Church……When!
Are you interested in sponsoring a training at your church? Contact
Roberta Egli at roberta@messy Church USA for more information. Learn more about hosting a training here.
The Mission of Messy Church USA is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect with other Messy Churches in the United States.

Easter Poem

by Lindsey Goodyear

iStock

When we hear the word Easter, we think bunnies and joy,
An egg hunt and candies for each girl and boy.
But is that really what this whole day is about?
Come along on a journey and you may just find out!

Jesus, our savior, lived so long in the past,
And if you had a question, well, He’s who you asked.
As the one son of God, He was the king of the Jews,
And spent most His time, by spreading good news.

Healing the sick, and feeding the poor,
He gave all He had, and then He gave more.
While most people loved Him, the leaders showed doubt,
They didn’t like Jesus, or what He was about.

And instead of just listening and believing in Him,
They arrested Him starting a scene oh so grim.
They beat Him and hung Him up high on a cross,
Made fun of His teachings, showing Him who was boss.

As He hung up in pain from His head to his toes,
The guards placed their bets to see who’d get His clothes.
He showed love through their hate, it was all that he knew,
“Father, please forgive them, they know not what they do.”

As His friends stayed and wept, the Earth started to shake,
The sky filled with clouds and mountains did break!
Jesus said, “it is finished” then bowed down His head,
A Great sadness came on, their savior was dead.

His friends took him down from the cross to a tomb,
Wrapped Him in cloth and walked out in gloom.
The tomb was still opened, so a boulder was set,
His friends left knowing, Jesus had paid our debt.

And three days after the Lord paid our price,
Three women set out to anoint Him with spice.
On the way they discussed ways to move the huge rock,
But when they arrived, they were met with a shock!

The tomb was now open and up on the stone,
Sat an angel that glowed like a jewel on a throne.
“No need to be frightened” he said to the three,
“He’s not here, He’s risen” come look and you’ll see.

Amazement took over once the women went in,
There was only a cloth, where once Jesus had been.
“Go tell the disciples He’ll be at Galilee”
“He’s alive and He’s back! Our savior is free!”

They went on their way, preparing their story,
When they came across Jesus in all of His glory.
They fell to their knees as they worshiped their king,
And heard the great news that he asked them to bring.

Tell the others you’ve seen me and I’ll see them as well,
Until God calls me home and in Heaven I’ll dwell.
God raised His son despite our sins,
In the end Jesus proved that love always wins.

See Today isn’t about what the Easter bunny gives,
But a hefty reminder that He is risen and lives!

iStock

Lindsey Goodyear lives in Huntington Beach, CA with her family. She attends Messy Church at Community UMC in Huntington Beach. She writers regularly for Messy Church USA and is one of the writers for the curriculum for the Get Messy! magazine from April 2019-March 2020. You can reach her at Lindseygoodyear@gmail.com.

Lindsey Goodyear

The Messy In-Between

A blog post from Roberta J. Egli

March 20, 2019

Winter? Spring? It is the In-Between

Several weeks ago we experienced a snow storm…it was an oddity for us in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where I live. We woke up to 11 inches of snow on the ground and over 48 hours an additional four inches of snow fell. We were not ready for this snow…the small daffodils had already begun to bloom. The unexpected snowfall brought the whole area to a standstill for several days. We were ready to celebrate the arrival of spring rather than dig out from a record breaking amount of snow. For several days we lived within the Messy in-between.

How are you living in the Messy in-between as you finalize plans for your Easter Messy Church while also inviting your Messy Churches to walk through the season of Lent? This topic of observing lent while also preparing for Easter has been discussed on the Messy Church USA Team Leaders FB group page (click here to join). Messy Churches across the US live in the Messy in-between by having a prayer focused Lenten messy church or a Journey through Holy Week with activities focused on Palm Sunday, the prayers of Gethsemane, the walk toward the cross with feet or hand painted to create a colorful paper cross. Sharing the story of the weeks leading up the big Easter Celebration is vital for our families who are new to the story of Jesus.

Jenna Reinke shared this lovely altar piece created at her Messy Church in Crowley, Texas. She writes that creating the altar decoration helped to build connections between their Messy Church and traditional ‘Sunday Church’ communities. 

Picture from Jenna Reinke from Crowley, TX

Another great idea of incorporating prayers into both Messy Church and traditional church is illustrated by Heather Johnson, a pastor from Minnesota. Check out these beautiful paper Lenten paraments created by written prayers on strips of purple paper that are pictured below.

May you find ways to enter deeply into the season of prayer and preparation this Lent as you also live in the messy in-between of looking forward making detailed plans for your Easter Messy Church! We celebrate the joy of the resurrection by preparing ourselves and our Messy communities. I know that Easter is the largest Messy Church for many communities so prayers for patience and happy volunteers!

Be sure to share your stories of your Lent and Easter stories on our Facebook page, the team leaders group or better yet, send a story or a short video to our Messy Church USA Communications Team lead Robin Cannon from Ohio.

Messy blessings to you as you live in this Messy in-between time. Love and blessings, Roberta

Our mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA.

Follow the Star

A blog-post by Casey Cross

“They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9

When I think about those wise ones who followed the star, I think about leadership. The best teachers are life-long learners. The best leaders know how to follow others. I always find it interesting that when we are most purely ourselves, living out of our gifts, we end up modeling for others and becoming leaders without even trying. This is the case with those who followed the star. Was it curiosity or pure scholarship that brought the Magi on such a journey?

We do not know a lot about these astrologers. We only know that they were doing their thing – observing the stars. Little did they know, they would have their own followers, thousands of years later. We who hear and celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth, follow the wise men on their journey, first to King Herod, and finally to the home where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying. By joining them on their journey, we are reminded once again where God is found, among the outsiders rather than the elite.

Christmas is not just an opportunity to say, “Happy birthday Jesus!” It is also an opportunity to welcome Jesus into our world, imperfect though it is, as well as into our hearts.

These wise men were also on a journey of hospitality. On their way to meet Jesus, bringing gifts, and building new relationships are at the heart of hospitality. With their presence, they welcomed Jesus to earth. Christmas is not just an opportunity to say, “Happy birthday Jesus!” It is also an opportunity to welcome Jesus into our world, imperfect though it is, as well as into our hearts.

We can learn a lot from these wise men on their journey. In a way, it was a journey of proclamation, to show homage to the king of the Jews. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the historical reference to the word homage is in reference to making a public acknowledgement of allegiance to one’s Lord. By showing homage, these travelers publically claimed the king of the Jews their personal lord. How do we translate this homage to our celebration of Christ’s birth every year? Do we use this holy-day as an opportunity to publically name Jesus our Lord and Savior, or do we spend too much time focusing on the gifts and minutiae of creating a “perfect” day?

As we welcome one another to our space, activities, celebration, and meal, we build connections and experience the incarnate Christ among us.

I see leadership, homage, and hospitality celebrated in the organization of Messy Church. As we welcome one another to our space, activities, celebration, and meal, we build connections and experience the incarnate Christ among us. We are all both learners and teachers. Everyone has an opportunity to share in a piece of the story, share their perspectives, life experiences, and gifts. We share a meal together, growing in our relationships as well as our faith. We join the journey together; following the promises of God like the wise ones followed the star, to the place where it all comes together, in Jesus the Christ. God with us, Emmanuel.

Casey Cross serves on the Messy Church USA Board of Directors. She is the
Young Disciples Director of Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID, where she has led the start of the first Messy Church in Idaho.