Bringing Home the Mess: Holy Week Edition

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Bringing Home the Mess: Holy Week Edition

By Lindsey Goodyear

I was hoping that this blog would find you in a position much different than my last one.  Unfortunately, the situation with COVID-19 is spreading and most of us are quarantined to our homes.  I know it’s a trying time to say the least but I’m hoping that the ability to participate in Messy Church from home is bringing some joy in these uncertain times.  With Holy Week fast approaching, I thought it would be a perfect subject for an at home “mini mess”.  Holy Week covers the time period between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  Below I’ve outlined the seven days that represent Holy Week, what happened, and fitting activities and food ideas to go with them.  Please discuss the parts of the story on the coinciding days and then do the craft/activity that follows.  I know this is a little different than the way we normally do Messy Church (all in one day) but I’m hoping that stretching it out and having a little bit of mess for seven days straight will really bring families together to understand what happened every day during the Holy Week.  I’m praying for the health and safety of our Messy families and keeping my fingers crossed that we can meet, in person, again soon!

Messy Church USA @ Home

Holy Week Edition

Scripture Readings from Common English Bible

Palm Sunday, April 5th, 2020

Jesus and His disciples make their entrance into Jerusalem. Two of His disciples went ahead of the rest and brought a donkey for Jesus to ride. Jesus is greeted by crowds waving palm branches and exclaiming, “Hosanna to the son of David!”

Scripture: Luke 19: 37-38
As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. They said, ‘Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.’”

Activity: Palms and Races

Need: Green construction paper, pencil, scissors, glue, Popsicle sticks.   

Have each person in your family trace their hand four or five times on the green paper. Using the scissors, cut out the hands. Apply glue to the sticks and arrange the hands (thumbs together) on either side of the stick so they resemble a palm leaf. Once the leaves are finished, set up a start and finish line and divide into teams. Since the palms were laid so Jesus’s feet would not touch the ground, lay the palms, from your team, end to end and try to be the first one across without actually touching the ground. Once you step on a palm, lay another in front. Then, once you step on that one, reach back for the other and, again, place it in front. Keep this going all the way across the finish line!

Prayer:Faithful God, we give you praise this day! The people gathered to surround Jesus with shouts of praise, yet here we are at home to keep our neighbors safe by social distancing. We join our “Hosanna!” with people all over the world you are praising you this day. Be with us as we walk with Jesus during this coming week. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN.

Food Idea:Since Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, take the opportunity to try some different foods from that region. Ideas include baklava, hummus, or Israeli salad.

Holy Monday, April 6, 2020

Jesus and His disciples go to Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is frustrated with how people are treating this worship space. He turns over tables and declares, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Scripture: Luke 19: 45-46
“When Jesus entered the temple, he threw out those who were selling things there. Jesus said to them, “It’s written, my house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a hideout for thieves”

Activity: Your House of Prayer

Need: Paper, pencils, tape.

Create your own “house of prayer” by writing down reminders to pray. It can be specific prayers or just to pray in general, but write your thoughts on the paper and tape them up around the house. Mirrors, the refrigerator, the television, and doors are all good reminder places we will see frequently.

Prayer: God of all times, as we walk with Jesus as he walks toward to cross of Good Friday, be present with us in all of the twists and turns of this Holy Week story. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN.

Food Idea: Donuts! There is a cute saying that goes, “Donut forget to pray!” Yes, it’s a cute saying but it also has a great message (plus your kids will love the sweet treat!)

Holy Tuesday, April 7, 2020

On this day, we look at the story when Jesus and His disciples come across a fig tree as they walked through the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus used the fig tree to give a lesson about staying persistent when it seems that everything is falling apart. The leaves on the fig tree are beginning to sprout and Jesus tells his followers that it is a sign that the seasons are changing. Jesus then instructs them that when things are changing, they are to stay alert and pray for strength. Our world has changed through the Covid-19 pandemic but we can hear the voice of Jesus telling us to stay alert and to pray for strength.

Scripture: Luke 21: 29-31, 36
“Jesus told them a parable, “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near…Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to endure everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man”

Activity: Pay Attention and Pray
Need: Pencils, paper.

Take a moment to reflect on what may be causing you anxiety today. Draw a picture or write it down on your paper. As a family, take turns sharing what it is you are feeling. Then as a family pray for strength during this time of uncertainty. Reach out to your Messy Church friends via social media or a phone call and let them know that you are also praying for them.

Prayer: Merciful God, during this time of uncertainty, we remember how Jesus told his disciples to stay alert and to pray for strength. Give us strength and courage this day. Thank you that you are with us in our anxiety and will never leave us alone. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN.

Food Idea: Spaghetti! Heat up some spaghetti sauce on the stove and boil the water for noodles. As you wait for the noodles to boil, talk about how we never know the precise moment that the noodles will begin to boil but we know that through the heat, they eventually will boil. Just as we are patient for the noodles to boil, when we pray, we must also practice patience. We can rely on the faithfulness of Jesus to be with us always as we wait for things to fall into place in our lives. Then, mix your spaghetti sauce and noodles together and enjoy your spaghetti!

Holy Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Today we look at the story of one of Jesus’s disciples, Judas, who goes to the religious leaders of the time who are disturbed by the teachings of Jesus and want to silence him by arresting him. Judas asks the religious leaders what they would give him if he helps them follow through with their plan to arrest Jesus. The men count out thirty silver coins and hand them to Judas. From that point on, Judas is looking for a time when he can help the leaders arrest Jesus.

Scripture: Luke 22: 3-6
“Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. He went out and discussed with the chief priests (religious leaders) and officers of the temple guard how he could hand Jesus over to them. They were delighted and arranged payment for him. Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them—a time when the crowds would be absent.”

Activity: Collecting Silver

Need: Thirty pieces of silver.

Collect thirty pieces of silver and decide which organization you’d like to donate to. The silver can include nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, or any other coins of the same color.

Prayer: Forgiving God, there are times in our lives when we turn away from you and do not love others as Jesus teaches us to love. We ask for your forgiveness. Give us the courage to follow the teaching of Jesus to love one another. We thank you for your mercy. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN.

Food Idea: Silver dollar pancakes. Mix together your favorite pancake batter and drop small amounts of batter onto the skillet. Cook thoroughly and enjoy!

Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020

On this Holy Thursday, Jesus and his disciples sat down together to celebrate the Passover. This was a special meal meant to remind everyone of how God saved the Israelites and brought them out of Egypt. Before they ate the meal, Jesus knelt down and washed his disciples’ feet. This was something that a servant would normally do and the disciples where shocked! But Jesus told them that they were to love one another like this, by serving one another. We call this day “Maundy” Thursday because “Maundy” means “mandate” – Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another the way Jesus loved them. At the end of the meal, frequently called “The Last Supper”, Jesus took bread and wine, which was tradition at the end of a Jewish meal, and he blessed them and told his followers to remember him whenever they gathered together. Later that Thursday night, Jesus is betrayed by Judas and taken to the house of one of the high priests where they begin to make a case against Him to use in a trial.

Scripture: Luke 22: 14, 19-20
“When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the disciples joined him…After taking bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, he took the cup after the mail and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant which is poured out for you.”

Activity: Cup Decorating

Need: Paper cup, stickers, markers, glitter, etc.

Decorate your paper cup any way you’d like so you can use it with your “last supper” meal.

Prayer: God of mercy, as we prepare this meal, we remember how Jesus told us to remember him whenever we break bread and share a cup with one another. We thank you for Jesus and for his love for us and we remember his teaching us to love one another. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN

Food Idea: Mimic a last supper meal with your own family. So, choose a family favorite meal and use this time to talk about what feelings Jesus might have been experiencing at His own supper. Then, use the unleavened bread (or crackers) and wine (you can also use grape juice) to recreate communion. There are lots of easy unleavened bread recipes online so encourage your kids to help bake as well!

Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday is, by far, the most somber and arduous day of the Holy Week. On this day, our savior Jesus Christ was wrongfully accused in illegal trials and sentenced to death via crucifixion. He was nailed to a wooden cross and suffered for many hours before His death. Friday evening, Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.

Scripture: Luke 23: 44-46
“It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my life.’ After he said this, he breathed for the last time.”

Activity: Cross Art

Need: Paper, painter’s tape, paint, paint brushes.

Place the painter’s tape, in the shape of the cross, at the center of the piece of paper. Then, pick out your favorite colors to paint with. Paint the entire piece of paper (including over the top of the tape) and wait for it to dry. When it has dried, carefully pull the painter’s tape off to reveal a beautiful white cross among your artwork.

Prayer: Be with us this day, O God, as we remember that Jesus died upon a cross many years ago. We are sad yet we know that you are with us no matter how we feel. Thank you that your love for us is stronger than death. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN.

Food Idea: Make a rectangle pan of Rice Krispy Treats and empty it onto a cutting board. Cut the rectangle into a large cross and have fun decorating it with sprinkles and frosting before enjoying the delicious treat!

Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020

This day in the Holy Week is the day Jesus lay in the tomb. While many of his disciples had fled the scene, some of the women who followed Jesus stayed behind. They buried Jesus in a borrowed tomb on Friday before the Sabbath began. The tomb was then sealed tightly and guarded by Roman soldiers. On Saturday we remember how Jesus’ disciples must have felt, thinking that everything was over, knowing that Jesus was dead.

Scripture: Luke 23: 55-56
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph of Arimathea. They saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was laid in it. Then they went away and prepared fragrant spices and perfumed oils. They rested on the Sabbath in keeping with the commandment.

Activity: Moment of Silence

Need: Just yourself.

Take a moment out of your day as an individual or as a family and just be silent. Use this time to reflect on what happened to Jesus and the miracle that is to come. You can also use this time to pray if you’d like.

Prayer: We rest in your love, O God as we keep silence this day. We wait for the coming of the dawn of Easter light. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN

Food Idea: We’re quietest when we sleep so let’s make food that makes us sleepy. Turkey has a naturally occurring amino acid that blocks proteins. Normally after consuming it, we become very sleepy. Make your families own favorite turkey dish and get some rest!

Easter Sunday, April 12,2020

The Bible says that early on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial. When the women got to the tomb, they discovered that the tomb was empty! The large boulder that covered the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away and Jesus was gone. An angel appeared to the women and told them they need not be afraid. Jesus had risen! The women went back to the other disciples to tell them all they had seen.

Scripture: Luke 24: 1-6
“Very early in the morning on the first day of week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t hear, but has been raised. He is ALIVE!’ “

Activity: Secret Message

Need: Paper, white crayons, watercolor.

Use the white crayon to draw and write secret pictures and messages that have to do with Easter Sunday. Hand the paper to another member of your family and have them paint the paper with watercolor to reveal the secrets underneath! Ideas include the words “He is risen,” a hill with three crosses, an empty tomb, etc.

Prayer: God of life, we have experienced many different emotions this past week and today we are jumping up and down in joyful exuberance. Jesus is alive! What a surprise to remember that in the midst of dark times, you surprise us with new life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! In the name of the risen Jesus we pray. AMEN.

Food Idea: Enjoy the evening with whatever traditional meal your family makes for Easter dinner. If you don’t have a tradition, put the eggs you just colored to good use and make some egg salad!

CHRIST IS RISEN!

CHRIST IS RISEN, INDEED!

HAPPY EASTER

FROM MESSY CHURCH USA

Bringing Home the Mess

A Messy Church Take Home from Lindsey Goodyear

You can download this logo at www.messychurch.org.uk

I’d love to say that our Saturday started like any other, but it didn’t.  We woke with the heavy feeling that the afternoon before had brought our community.  All schools were to be closed for the next two weeks due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic.  Although we weren’t the only community to experience the announcement of the closures, I think it forced us to face the reality that this was getting serious.  Yes, we’d been watching closely on the news the effects the virus was having on other countries, but it hadn’t hit our city yet so we seemed somewhat removed from the crisis.  The announcement seemed to corroborate that it was, indeed, lurking in our own backyards.  Until last Friday, the dangers seemed far away but it was time to hunker down and stay somewhat quarantined.  Although that seemed depressing, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Messy Church was set to start at 5:00 PM that evening.  It would be a time for us to get together with other families to laugh, have fun, and really connect with them through God’s word.  We were all looking forward to the lighthearted evening.  But, then, just after lunch, we received a text saying that our leaders had been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and that they felt it was best to cancel that evening’s Messy Church.  The somber feeling seemed to instantly return and we tried to calm our children who were heartbroken to miss a night with their “Messy” family and friends.  It left me anxious wondering how many more of these texts we would receive before the virus was contained?  How would I break the news to my kids over and over that one of their favorite nights would not be happening?  Then, I realized, maybe we don’t have to.  What if we just brought the mess home?  I decided to write a “Mini Mess” that not only our family could do at home, but that other families missing their own Messy Churches could do as well.  I feel the verse is absolutely relevant to the state of our world right now so I hope you and yours find comfort after allowing His word to surround us in these distressing times.

MINI MESS

Verse: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

3 MESSY ACTIVITIES

# 1- Cast Away Worries

Need: Paper, pencil, scissors.

Take a moment to really think about something that has been bothering you.  Whether it be at work, at school, or anywhere else, write it down on the paper.  Have each member of the family then cut their paper into tiny pieces.  When you’re done, say a prayer, as a family, to have God release the uneasiness that comes with those situations.  Throw the pieces away and mentally “let go” of those worries.

# 2- Yoga Church:

Need:  Yoga mats (optional)

This is a simple way in which the whole family can relax, ease tensions, or just reset.  Focus on the words from Philippians 4:6 while simultaneously doing yoga poses to bring peace.  If you are an advanced yogi, choose whichever poses you find fitting.  If you are looking for kid friendly poses, focus on things like “cat/cow,” “cobbler pose,” or “child’s pose.” Instructions for how to do these and other poses can be found online.

 # 3- Letters of Care

Need:  Stationary, envelopes, pens, stamps.

Sit, as a family, and write letters to the community who may be affected by the recent Coronavirus pandemic.  Ideas include convalescent homes, first responders, or family members who may not be able to have visitors.  Receiving mail from someone and letting them know how much you care is one of the most uplifting feelings there are.  Take this time to put thought and effort into letting someone know how much you appreciate and care for them.

*If writing isn’t an option for you or your family, FaceTime and Zoom are other great options to brighten someone’s day without spreading germs.

CELEBRATION 

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by a man named Robert Schuller.  It goes, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”  The answer is pretty simple…nothing.  There’s absolutely nothing we wouldn’t try because there would be categorically zero chance of a letdown.  Wouldn’t that be so great?  Just releasing the anxiety of the “what if’s” and knowing in complete and utter confidence that it will all work out.  Well, guess what?  We just described what our lives should be with God.  God calls on us to rid ourselves of anxiety and depend on Him wholly and completely.  This is hard for many of us because we want to be the ones in control.  However, if we could know in our hearts, without a doubt, that God is in charge and His plan is what’s best for us, we’d never entertain an anxious thought again.  So, you see, the quote could easily be changed from “what would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” to “what kind of life could we have if we trusted God’s plan was perfect?”  Because, it is.  His plan is perfect and we have to have trust in Him.  Use this now, in a time where the world seems frightening, and know.  Release your worries and have faith.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, we ask you, today, for the strength to depend on you.  We ask for the release of anxieties of situations that are out of our control.  We ask for the healing of your people around the world and the continued health of our friends and families.  Please, Lord, in this time of anguish let us find peace in the comfort of your loving embrace.  We thank you, God, for all your love.  In your name we pray, Amen.         

MEAL IDEA: HAPPY PIZZA

Meal Idea:  Happy Pizza

Need:  Pizza crust, pizza sauce, cheese, meat of choice, veggies of choice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  While waiting for the oven to heat, grate cheese and cut up veggies of choice.  Spread sauce on the pizza crust and sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Using whatever vegetables and meat you’ve chosen, make a happy face on the pizza (i.e. olives and pepperonis for eyes, sausage for nose, and thinly sliced bell pepper to form a smile).  Put the pizza into the oven and let cook for 20 minutes.  Let cool, slice, and enjoy.   

Lindsey Goodyear
Messy Church at Community UMC, Huntington Beach, CA
lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Celebrate…A Lent Spiritual Practice

A blogpost from Roberta J. Egli

During the Season of Lent many of us engage in a new or renewed spiritual practice. I have re-engaged with the spiritual practice of observing a weekly Sabbath ritual. I am using a devotional guide from the saltproject.org that explores scripture and poems. “Sabbath is a day for delight, for participating in God’s ongoing joy in creation. If we refrain from certain activities during the sabbath, we do so precisely in order to make room for this enjoyment.” I must confess that my natural tendency is to worry rather than stopping work to engage in delight, so Sabbath ritual is helping me to trust and enjoy rather than worry and work!

I discovered the connection between my lent Sabbath practice and one of the foundational values of Messy Church when I read Lucy Moore’s recent blog following a day of quiet. The Messy Church UK leadership team began this year to observe what they call ‘quiet days at a distance’. The goal for these days is to grow together as a team even though geographical distance keeps them apart. They begin the day with a teleconference call in which they read and reflect on a specific scripture before spending several hours in separate quiet reflection. They come back together via teleconference at the end of their reflection time to share with one another what has ‘bubbled up’. Their most recent quiet day of reflection focused on the story of the Prodigal Son which led to Lucy’s blog.

Lucy writes: The celebration in the story is for the father, not for the son – it’s the father’s contentment that leads to celebration: he isn’t even really listening to the son, he just wants to get on and celebrate. The image of the father running towards the son is a very striking one, not least because that would have been a most undignified thing for a man of his age and status to do. For people at Messy Church who may have little sense of self-worth, the idea of someone running towards them because he loves them and he wants to celebrate with them is a very powerful one.  (Full blogpost here) 

My friends, in the midst of a global epidemic that causes uncertainty, anxiety and fear, a spiritual practice of celebration may seem to be counter-cultural. Yes, follow the recommendations of your local health departments and wash your hands regularly however it is imperative that we share the God who celebrates with each other and with our Messy Church attenders.

  • Engage in celebration as you greet one another by using the sign language for ‘peace be with you’.
  • Engage in celebration when you engage in a nature walk looking for signs of new life. 
  • Engage in celebration as a leadership team as you recall meaningful interactions during Messy Church.
  • Engage in celebration as you share the scripture in participatory ways

I celebrate that Messy Church USA is growing broader and deeper as both a network of churches and an organization of committed people who worship the God who celebrates.  I would love to hear how your Messy Church is celebrating!    

Grace and Peace, Roberta

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

Messy Church USA and COVID-19…oh my!

Roberta Jantzi Egli

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As a former communicable disease registered nurse with a local county health department, I certainly understand the anxiety regarding what is now an official global pandemic.  Should we cancel this month’s Messy Church?  How do we keep messy fingers clean if we decide to proceed with our Messy Church?  There are many questions that many of you have been asking. Recommendations are changing quickly but this is the latest.

First, follow the guidelines of your specific denomination and local health departments regarding the decision to cancel or postpone your monthly Messy Church. 

Second, find ways to connect with your Messy Church Community during this time of uncertainty. 

  • Pick up your cell phone and call anyone you are worried about
  • Reach out via social media to stay connected with your Messy Church families
  • Pray for each other and especially the global Messy Church movement with special attention to those areas that are especially hit hard with this virus
  • Share your prayers with one another via social media

Third, stay informed with current science.  Here are some great resources. World Health Organization and Centers For Disease Control.

Last but not least, you are invited to join in a brainstorming conversation with other members of the Messy Church USA network.  A Zoom call has been set up for Monday, March 16th, 2020 at 1 pm Pacific Daylight time.  Here is the link that you can use to join in, https://zoom.us/j/5417603909

If you have not used zoom before you will need to download the free software prior to the call on your phone or computer at https://zoom.us/support/download

I am praying for you as you and your Messy teams lead your communities during this time.  Don’t forget that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love.  

Grace and Peace, Roberta

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

Have a Little Faith

A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

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Do you ever check out when you’re at church?  Like, you’ve heard the story so many times and you know how it ends so you just go through the motions of nodding your head in agreement when in reality you’re thinking about what you need to grab at the grocery store after?  Well, if you don’t, I commend you.  I, on the other hand, do this often.  I know it’s not ideal, but sometimes I feel like I know the story so well that I couldn’t possibly get anything else out of it.  Right?  Nope.  I began my typical mind wandering last weekend at Messy Church.  We were studying Luke 5:17. If you aren’t familiar, this passage tells the story of a paralyzed man whose friends carry him on a stretcher to a house where Jesus is so he can be healed.  When they arrive, the house is so crowded that the only way they can get their friend in to see Jesus is by creating a hole in the roof and lowering him down inside.  Jesus indeed heals the man and for the faith he has shown toward our Lord, Jesus informs him his sins are forgiven.  The story is a good one and great setup to talk about trusting in the Lord to not only alleviate our pain, but also the pain of loved ones we lift up in prayer.  And that is exactly what we did.  After the crafts (which were centered around healing and family) were over, we settled in for a celebration that included a very emotional prayer in which we all said aloud the names of loved ones who were in need of mending.  While the first time I heard this story, it was absolutely a testament to the way God heals, this time around, something very different spoke to me.

God wants us to show up and walk humbly with Him.  Have faith.  We don’t have to make it so difficult. 

When I think about having faith, grandiose gestures always come to mind.  Standing on my soap box preaching to passerby’s.  Always suggesting prayer first to anyone showing signs of distress.  Outwardly telling each person I meet how much I love Jesus so that it is absolutely clear I’m on the right track to heaven.  God gives a love so big, so unbiased, so perfect, that He certainly deserves these big expressions.  But, here’s the truth…I don’t do any of those things.  In fact, I don’t do much in the way of preaching at all.  I’ve always felt my relationship with God is very private so I don’t speak about it unless I’m writing or provoked.  I’ve always admired those who speak freely about their religious relationships but it’s just not me.  But guess what?  God still loves me.  It struck me big time when I heard the words from Luke 5:20. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”  Really, I thought?  He’s forgiven?  That isn’t a grandiose gesture!  We’d show that much trust on a typical trip to our general physician.  But here’s the cool thing…to God, it is a grandiose gesture.  In fact, it’s the only gesture God asks of us.  God wants us to show up and walk humbly with Him.  Have faith.  We don’t have to make it so difficult.  God is not looking for big performances with a side of showing off.  He just wants us.  So, the next time you start to wander in la la land or nod off a little, perk yourself up or you’ll miss it.  Just because you’ve heard it before, doesn’t mean you’ve learned all you can. 

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC in Hungtington Beach, CA. You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

Do we have to call it Messy Church?

A Reflection by Roberta J. Egli

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“Do we have to call it Messy Church?”  That is question I received eight years ago from the leadership team of the church I served as Pastor when I excitedly shared videos to introduce the concept of starting a Messy Church. I continue to receive that question today and I imagine that many of you in local leadership have also experienced resistance to the word, “Messy”.

Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church writes that the name was an invitation to “reach families that were on the ‘messy edges’ of church who weren’t ‘tidily’ congregation already. It’s also a church for people whose lives may be messy – perhaps in the past the Church has too often appeared to be saying that we only welcome people whose lives are well-ordered.”  (Lucy Moore, BBC Songs of Praise, 2013) 

Here is my short elevator speech answer to the question, why call it Messy Church? “We all live messy lives, with messy relationships and in Messy Church we come in with all of our messiness and find a place of belonging through the unconditional love of God.  Through creating together, celebrating together and eating together, we build a community centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I recently read an article by theologian Shane Claiborne, from a variety of authors writing about the “The Future of Christianity”. Shane reflects on our messiness and his experience at a church he visited where the greeters wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “no perfect people allowed” rather than Sunday ‘dress up’ clothes.

The good news is that Jesus didn’t come for folks who have it all together, but for folks who are willing to admit they are falling apart (Mt 9:13) It’s not about how good we are, but how good God is. Hopefully, that can also give us some grace with a church full of messed-up people, and with ourselves.We are imperfect people, falling in love with a perfect God, and doing our best to become more like the One we worship. (Shane Claiborne. Loving the Church Back to Life. (Oneing: The Future of Christianity. Volume 7. No 2. Center for Action and Contemplation) p.66-67

I am grateful that despite resistance, a group of people inspired by the vision, took a risk and started a monthly Messy Church. Our Messy Church certainly was not perfect, we made many mistakes and learned as we went along.  Yet we created a space each month, where people who had not attended church for many years or ever, found a place to belong to one another through games, crafts, stories, food, and fun.  Along the way, we all encountered the transforming love of Christ who bonded us together.

I learned several months ago that the Messy Church I helped to lead into existence, is no longer meeting.  I am saddened at that development, yet it is another reminder for me to trust God rather than my own plans and expectations.  I know that many seeds of faith and love were planted during the five years of that particular Messy Church’s life span and that those seeds of love will sprout and grow. 

When we gather in October in Chicago, we will have opportunities to share highlights and challenges from our local Messy Churches.  There is not ‘one’ way to lead a Messy Church!  We will CELEBRATE the MESS! We will CELEBRATE the 175 churches as of today that have joined the Messy Church USA Network. We will CELEBRATE both the fantastic successes and the failures from which we have learned.  We will CELEBRATE that many people in the USA and the world, are finding Messy Church to be a hope-filled expression of church that gathers all ages together to wonder and CELEBRATE the wondrous and messy life we have been given. Make plans to join the celebration!  God’s grace is in the midst of our messiness…Thanks be to God!
 
See you in the Windy City!  

Peace and love,
Roberta

LEARN MORE & REGISTER FOR CELEBRATE THE MESS

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

Celebrate the Mess

Registration is now openClick Here. We expect to sell out so be sure to get your team together and make plans to attend!

10 Top Ten Reasons to attend Celebrate the Mess in Chicago!

  • Celebrate the growth of Messy Church in the USA
  • Be inspired by the story telling of Messy Church Founder Lucy Moore
  • Learn new songs and dance to your favorites with Scottish songwriter Stephen Fischbacher
  • Celebrate both the wondrous successes and spectacular failures while learning from others during Messy Talks
  • Connect with Regional Coordinators from all over the USA
  •  Engage in workshops designed to equip local Messy Churches to 1) start, 2) sustain their vitality and, 3) connect with best practices resources and other messy practitioners
  • Connect with others over meals and Messy Church worship
  • New to Messy Church? Attend the Pre-conference “Getting Started” event
  • Have fun at the Messy Extravaganza on Friday evening
  • Leave the Conference with practical ideas, experiences, contacts and new messy friends from all over the United States

We are celebrating our mission as Messy Church USA to equip local Messy Churches to Start, Sustain and Connect. Join in the Celebration. Learn more and Register Here.

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

Taking Time to Reflect While We Jump into 2020

iStock

Is the person in the picture above going to make it into 2020 or fall short? How are you doing with the start of a new year?  Are you already feeling behind?   (Yes, I realize that the picture is probably altered but it still causes some anxiety!)

At the start of every turn of the calendar, my husband and I go out for breakfast to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what is coming in the new. In our busy lives, for many of us, days and months and even an entire year can flow by so quickly that we don’t take notice.  Taking moments to pause, slow down and reflect not only at the end of the year but throughout the year provides opportunity to give thanks for what is going well, and consciously changing perspectives when needed.

My new project planner has a section at the end of each week and month to draw or write a reflection on how my time was spent in meeting the goals I have set. I have been using it since September and have found that engaging in this simple practice has helped me to give thanks for what has been accomplished and then re-prioritize for the coming week or month. This practice has reminded me of our check in time for our monthly Messy Church planning team I was involved with several years ago. Prior to talking about what was coming up we would spend a few moments reflecting on our previous Messy Church and take turns answering three simple questions: 1) what went well? 2) What could have gone better? and 3) How can we hold one another in prayer?

The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize.

Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, founder of the Messy Church global movement, in her reflection on the turn of the calendar year and the months ahead, challenged us to view our monthly Messy Church as an unwrapped gift. “There’s a rhythm to meeting monthly as a church. The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize. Or like a soup bubbling away with ingredients added one by one, subtly altering the flavour and texture until you look back after twelve months…” Read More Here

So, my friends, as you start this new year, I would love to engage in a conversation with you regarding your local Messy Church.  What is going well?  What could be have gone better?  How can I hold you and your team in prayer?  Drop me a note or contact your Regional Coordinator.

For today, I pray this prayer that has been central in my morning routine of awakening to God’s presence.

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen

(The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns, (The Westminster Press 1970m 1972)

May you experience God’s light and love holding you and leading you into 2020. Happy 2020 my friends.

Grace and peace,
Roberta
roberta@messychurchusa.org

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

Messy Kid Chronicles

December Blog Post from Lindsey Goodyear

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with five different adults, of all age groups, and listening to incredible testimonies of their journey through Messy Church. The fact that they were open enough to put their own private feelings out there for the world to read filled me with such gratitude. I love seeing how Messy Church impacts the life of others and, with them telling their stories, others can now hear it as well! And, although they were all captivating interviews, it did leave me wondering what the youth of our congregation would have to say about their own experiences with Messy Church. So, this month, I decided to sit down with four different kids, between the ages of 4 and 11 and ask them all the same questions. I was met with some of the sweetest, funniest, most blunt answers I’ve ever received in an interview! It was a riot! I love the innocent, unfiltered, unbiased answers we get when we talk about God with kids. We can learn a lot from their blind faith. So, without further ado, please enjoy some words about Messy Church out of the mouths of babes.

Name: Jax
Age: 4
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Jax (J): I don’t know anything about that.

LG: That’s okay. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
J: The water slide one.

LG: Really? How come?
J: Because I liked going down the slide and next time I’m going to do flips, stand up, and slide on my knees.

LG: Wow, that sounds fun! How about you tell me your favorite meal at Messy Church?
J: I would like it if they had bread and I could put butter on it!

LG: I would love that too. Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
J: Ms. Leyla says that sometimes you see Jesus laying in that little thing He likes.

LG: Do you mean the manger?
J: What’s a manger?

LG: That little bed He had when he was born.
J: Oh, yeah. But, He’s dead, you know?

LG: I do know that but He’s alive in our hearts, right?
J: Yes, and so is God!

LG: That’s right! How about your favorite Messy Church song?
J: Welcome Everybody!

LG: That’s a good one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church what would it be?
J: Sing a new song at Messy Church for prayer.

LG: Why a new song?
J: I just do.

LG: Well, maybe we can work on that. Thanks for the interview!
J: Okay.

Name: Kellan
Age: 7
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Kellan (K): At first I was super scared but then I remember it was super fun!

LG: What has been your favorite Messy Church?
K: Christmas.

LG: Why, what did you do?
K: Played lots of games, went inside the church, and Ms. Marty said some stuff about the Bible. Messy Church is super fun and amazing!

LG: I agree! What’s your favorite meal at Messy Church?
K: Spaghetti because I like spaghetti!

LG: Me too! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
K: About that little guy.

LG: Zaccheus?
K: Yes!

LG: What do you remember about him?
K: He took people’s money and then Jesus came so he gave them their money back.

LG: That’s right! Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
K: Yes, I learned that if you’re praying and you are driving a car, Don’t close your eyes to pray because you’ll crash!

LG: That’s a good takeaway! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
K: Welcome everybody.

LG: Great one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
K: The time.

LG: Why is that?
K: So we could go to Messy Church sooner!

LG: Agreed!

2019 Christmas Messy Church
Community United Methodist, Huntington Beach, CA

Name: Zazie
Age: 10
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 6 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zazie (Z): I came here because we got invited by my friend and I was really shy at that point because I didn’t know anyone except the friend who invited me. The first craft I remember is making a wooden Jesus with a cross.

LG: I remember that craft, too! What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: My favorite Messy Church was the Messy Pets. I got a little metal medallion to hang off his cage.

LG: Who is he?
Z: Skyler, my pet rabbit.

LG: Very cool! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: The one where we had it catered by the steakhouse. It was an 11 out of 10! It was an amazing meal and I had my mom bring me to that same restaurant the next night!

LG: You’re right, it was a great meal! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one with the crown of thorns. I remember that Marty had the crown of thorns in her hand. It obviously wasn’t the real crown of thorns but I remember her having it. There were people who came and acted the story out which is my favorite.

LG: I agree. Sometimes it’s easier to understand the story when someone acts it out.
Z: Yes!

LG: Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: I write down what I’m thankful for, which I started at Messy Church. I do it all of the time. I even show it in my artwork.

LG: Wow! That’s really cool. Do you have a favorite Messy Church song?
Z: “Da Da Da Dum” song! I even sing it in the shower!

LG: Ha! That’s awesome! I also like our Messy Grace song. If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
Z: Maybe take away those gates and open it up again.

LG: Why is that?
Z: Because there’s something special about being in the sanctuary so I can’t wait to go back in!

*Note: Community United Methodist Church is getting a huge remodel. For the time being, we are unable to have our celebration portion of Messy Church in the sanctuary. The construction is guarded by gates and this is what Zazie is referring to.

Name: Zachary
Age: 11
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 7 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zachary (Z): They all kind of blend together but I remember liking the sensory tables with all of the beads.

LG: Yes! The sensory tables are fun. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: I like the pets Messy Church. That’s really fun!

LG: Why is it your favorite?
Z: I’m not sure. Probably because you get to bring stuff.

LG: What kind of stuff?
Z: Like pets.

LG: Which pets have you brought?
Z: We brought the bunny, we’ve brought the chickens, our lizard, and also our dog, Jewel.

LG: Wow! That’s lots of pets! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: I like when they did the meat chili with the ground beef. That was really good!

LG: Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one I remember the most is the smart dude that built his house on the rock and the not so smart dude that built it on the sand. Then the earthquakes came and the not so smart dude’s house fell down.

LG: I love the wise and foolish builders, also. Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: Hmm…Well I learned how to pray there!

LG: You did?
Z: Yes. I didn’t really know how to before.

LG: That’s awesome! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
Z: The “Da Da Da Dum” song!

LG: Our Messy Grace song?
Z: Yep!

LG: Great choice! Is there anything you would change about Messy Church?
Z: Yeah, I wish the time you get to do stuff was a little longer. Like, all the crafts and stuff.

LG: Me too. Thanks, Zachary!

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC
in Hungtington Beach, CA..
You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

Messy Advent Waiting

By Roberta J. Egli 

Messy Advent Blessing

May the stories you tell, the people you meet, the ways you fill your days during this season bring you closer to Bethlehem. May your heart be full of kindness and compassion, may you say thank you and I’m sorry often. May you find the courage to be brave like Mary, to say yes to God wherever God is calling you, remembering that on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you. Amen

~Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Messy Church, Newport, NH

Little did I expect that this Advent reflection would still be on my computer three weeks later. The plan was to send it out at the beginning of Advent but December has not gone according to my plan. The goals for December was to confirm Messy Church trainings for 2020, intensively plan the web registration for the Celebrate the Mess conference in October 2020 and to clean up my files that have been out of control since September.

However, life happened and much of my time these past several weeks have been spent waiting. Waiting in an emergency room with my husband for five hours for him to be seen for a worsening toe infection. Waiting to get results of an MRI to see if the infection was included the bone. Waiting for a ‘real room’ in the hospital rather than the no-window dreary observation room. Waiting for the advice of medical specialists for treatment. Waiting for the surgeon to walk through the recovery room doors to give me the results of his surgery. Waiting for the order that Lynn could go home. One thing I have learned is that I am not very good at waiting! 

Waiting is difficult. Advent is a season of waiting.  Was there some hidden Advent message in all of the waiting these past weeks? 

Lynn is at home now and recovering well. Life is beginning to resemble our normal daily rhythm. I now have the time and energy to reflect a bit on what I have learned through waiting this Advent.

  • God is with us as we wait. The Spirit of God is as close as our breath.  When I became anxious and impatient as I waited, I remembered to take a deep breath in and out. Simply focusing and praying with my breath helped to center me and remind me that God was present in all of the waiting. As the Advent blessing from quoted above, “…on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you.”
  • Waiting creates community. We had been sent to the Emergency Room by Lynn’s physician so we thought we would receive care soon after arriving. However, we waited for five hours and created community with all of the patients and families who were waiting. I heard stories and connected with a diverse group of people. We became the waiting community who kept inviting others to join in through sharing their stories as they awaited care. Telling our stories is how community is formed. I wonder how we share stories in our Messy Churches as we form community.
  • Waiting brings unexpected gifts. I was reminded of all of the many new friends Messy Church has brought into my life through all the global Facebook messages we received. Knowing that friends all over the world were praying for us brought us joy as we waited. We were forced to slow down from our busy lives for several weeks. This new pace has brought a new appreciation of the true gifts of Christmas.
Advent # 3

I invite you to take a moment to pause in your busy day as you prepare for Christmas. Breath in God’s love…Breathe out your request.

Pause and once again slowly read the Advent Blessing from Aaron Jenkyn.

May the stories you tell, the people you meet, the ways you fill your days during this season bring you closer to Bethlehem.

May your heart be full of kindness and compassion, may you say thank you and I’m sorry often.

May you find the courage to be brave like Mary, to say yes to God wherever God is calling you, remembering that on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you.

Amen

May you experience God’s presence in unexpected places today.

Grace and peace,
Roberta

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