Merry Christmas! Celebrate the Light!

Archive for Christ-Centered

Merry Christmas! Celebrate the Light!

A blog by Roberta Jantzi Egli

“The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world”
~John 1: 9 (CEB)

Are you all prepared to celebrate the light of Jesus Christ that has come for all people? I must be honest that I am not ready… there are still many items on my list and I am at the point now that I know that not all of those items will get crossed off. I shared with my step-mother this morning that although I am not ready for Christmas, the day will come whether I am ready or not. I know from experience that Christmas will be a day of celebration whether or not I get all the items on my list completed.

My friends, it is GOOD NEWS that Christmas comes to us whether we are prepared or not! As John’s gospel proclaims, we can be confident that Jesus the Christ will come to us daily bringing light, love and light to all.

I am reminded of the poem by Howard Thurman and accompanying picture that has been circulating around the internet this December.

I will light candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.

~ Howard Thurman

The Christmas season is difficult for many people. I live in the Pacific Northwest and as we approach the longest night of the year, I yearn for the return of the light. My mother died on the day after Christmas many years ago and even today, I still think of that bittersweet time of being together as a family while saying our goodbyes to our mother. God was present with us around the Christmas tree as well as around her bed as we sang Christmas carols to her.

My prayer my friends, is that you will light candles of joy, hope, courage, peace, grace and love not only during this season of Christmas and Epiphany but for the whole year long. I am so grateful for the ministry of Messy Church that invites people to bring all of their joys and sadness, doubt and celebrations, young and old to the light of Christ.

Merry Christmas and Celebrate the Light!

Roberta Egli, Executive Director, Messy Church USA


Be the Light

By Lindsey Goodyear                                                                                                    All rights reserved. 

My day started off as a bad one today,
I tripped on a toy lying in the doorway.

I fell to the floor and it really hurt bad,
So I yelled really loudly for mom and Dad.

I could hear a giggle from across the hall,
My sister had seen me and my terrible fall.

But she didn’t feel badly and seemed quite amused,
All at once I was shaking and extremely short fused.

I lunged from my doorway in an angry blur,
And screamed out loud while I ran straight at her,

I balled up my fist and I swung at her arm,
She let out a yell like a fire alarm!

All of the sudden, we looked different, it seemed,
We had darkness where once we had light that had beamed.

My mom had come running and saw what was done,
Her face filled with anger, as I stood in a stun.

She screamed, “why must you always put up such a fight?!”
You’re making me crazy! Get out of my sight!!!”

And, boom! All at once, her light disappeared,
It was a rare side of her that we always had feared.

She stood in shock, her mouth open wide,
She tried to talk but instead she just cried.

She said she was sorry, clasped her hands, bowed her head,
“God, please forgive me for the words I have said.”

Immediately her light was its normal, bright, gleam,
We were all out of trouble, at least it would seem.

My dad then came in and we all had a chat,
My sister apologized right off the bat,

She meant it and I watched as her light came back on,
But I wouldn’t say sorry because she was who’s wrong.

And although I knew I was without a doubt right,
I was confused at why I didn’t see a return of my light.

We all loaded up in the car, off to church,
At the light I saw a man sitting beneath a birch,

He walked to our car and tapped on the glass,
My dad rolled his eyes, mom said, “don’t be crass.”

His sign had a message “help, down on my luck”
Dad barely cracked the window of our old Family truck.

“Don’t tap on my window, back up, you’re a slob,”
“I work hard for my money so go find a job!”

The man slumped his head and dads light went away,
With a tear in his eye he said “have a nice day.”

Dad started to drive then said “what’d I just do?!”
“Do unto others as you’d like done to you!”

Dad lowered his head and started to plea,
“God, help me help others as you have helped me.”

He opened the door and ran back to the man,
Gave a shake and few dollars right in his hand.

And all of the sudden, my dad’s light was back on,
I was still in the dark, though I’d done nothing wrong.

When he came back I asked why he did what he’d done,
He replied, “itʼs what God calls us to do, my son.”

“Before you react, think about what He’d do,”
“Be the light for others and stop thinking of just you.”

It all hit at once and I began to see,
My light wasn’t broken, what’s broken is me.

God calls upon us, to be like Him, be the light,
Mine wasn’t turning on ’cause I had to be right.

I turned to my sister and said I was wrong,
I shouldn’t have hit you, and been so headstrong.

She gave me a grin and whispered “I know”,
And all at once, my own light was a glow.

God gives us the tools to light the darkest of night,
Now tell me, like Him, can you be the light?

Lindsey Goodyear attends Messy Church at Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA.  After attending Messy Church with her husband and two sons, she joined the leadership team for her Messy Church. We are delighted that she has agreed to be a regular blogger for Messy Church USA. Please contact her  for permission to republish Be the Light. 

Lindsey Goodyear

 

Christ Centered-Listen Deeply

By Roberta J. Egli

Shore Acres State Park, Charleston, Oregon

Earlier this week, I went on a Sabbath day journey to the Pacific Ocean. As I sat watching and listening to the waves crash upon the rocks, I was renewed in body and spirit. I took a video so that in the messiness of my office, I can listen to the restoring sound of the waves and be reminded of God’s love that washes over me. At times I get overwhelmed by all the noise of the news of this world as well as my task list and I need reminders of WHO calls me to the ministry of Messy Church. I am convinced that we all need to carve out times of deep listening to our Creator God to renew our souls. 

What are the renewing sounds that call you to listen deeply to God?

Keeping Christ in the Center is our April blog series focus. In my earlier post, I shared ideas of how praying together as a team is vital to keeping Christ in the Center. Today’s emphasis is to listen deeply to one another in your team sessions to stay centered in Christ in both your planning and putting those plans into action. Listening deeply to one another builds trust in each other, trust in the unfolding of your Messy Church experience and trust in the Spirit of God who moves within and amongst you.

As I was preparing a workshop on team building, I came across an article describing a multi-year study Google implemented to discover what practices made a team effective in their work. To their initial surprise, the number one factor in creating an effective team was TRUST. Effective team members “felt safe taking risks around their team members…they felt confident that no one would embarrass anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.” This study from Google reaffirms many of the stories from the bible that learning to trust begins with listening deeply.

Some actions to assist your Messy Church Team build TRUST!

  • Listen First- Listening deeply shows respect for how others think and feel. Can we listen to one another while we suspend our judgement?
  • Show compassion-try to understand the perspective of members of your team
  • Keep it Real- be willing to share your doubts and struggles as well as your strengths and joys
  • Set the Example- back up your words with your actions
  • Be Helpful- this sounds basic but when we get busy we sometimes forget to help one another
  • Disagree Respectfully– yes there are times we will disagree but remember in the midst to show the love of Christ and respect each other
  • Be Humble- be willing to learn from one another and admit your own mistakes
  • Show Gratitude- learn to identify, recognize and celebrate the gifts of all the members of your team
  • Invite diversity- look at who is missing from your team?  Invite a teenager, a single adult, a messy church family member or whomever is missing to join your team
  • Take time to listen some more! 

My prayers are with you take time to Listen Deeply to how God is leading you as a team.
Messy Blessings,
Roberta

Christ Centered: Pray Together

Posted by Roberta J. Egli

Jesus Blesses the Children, Paper Collage by Kim Jae Im

How’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” is a question posed by the recently released Messy Church session Everywhere Prayer. This resource was created for Thy Kingdom Come, a global prayer movement for the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost begun several years ago in the Church of England. (Link for both Everywhere Prayer  and Thy Kingdom Come Family Prayer Stations) 

I believe that creating a prayer team is the first and best practice to start your own Messy Church. Occasionally, I receive feedback that prayer is a given and too basic of a concept but I continue to mention the importance of prayer. Developing a regular prayer practice in your Messy Church team is vital to building a sustainable local Messy Church. When we come together to listen to God and each other in prayer we are led to prayerful action.

I read an article by Joy Gabriel in The Washington Post regarding the negative reaction to the phrase ‘sending thoughts and prayers’ in the midst of a tragedy. Gabriel makes the argument, through sharing personal examples, that prayer itself is not the problem but rather the view that does not translate to action. Read more here.

So, “how’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” It is easy to get caught up in what needs to be ‘done’ when you get together as a team. Here are some possible ways to expand your team prayer practice.

• Take ten minutes at the beginning of your planning time to reflect on three questions: 1) What went well at our last Messy Church, 2) What could have gone better and 3) How can we pray for each other and our Messy Church families?
• Read the upcoming theme scripture followed by a moment of silence before discussing as a team
• Gather as a team prior to the start of Messy Church and pray for each other, the people who will be coming as well as those who are not able to be there
• Include a prayer station at each of your Messy Church sessions
• Invite members of your ‘Sunday Morning Church’ to pray regularly for Messy Church
• Share Facebook posts of family prayer activities
• Share a brief story about how a prayer led you to action with your team
• Share how God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way

Your turn!  How does your team incorporate prayer?  Write me a note at roberta@messychurchusa.org or share your thoughts on our Messy Church USA FB Page here.

Loving God, thank you for the opportunity to listen deeply to You and one another when we take time to gather in prayer. Guide us in translating our spoken and unspoken prayer into action to share your love with a hurting world. May your kindom of grace come today and in the days to come. AMEN.

February 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to Messy Lent! Check out Roberta’s Messy Lenten Reflection about learning to embrace the wilderness. How are you recognizing Lent in your February and March Messy Churches? Share your ideas on our Messy Church USA FB page.

We are growing! Since January1, 2017 when we began our data base system, 23 new Messy Churches have been added to our data base! In addition, Roberta has made two trips to Colorado to train a cohort of 11 churches that received a grant for Messy Church training and a year’s work of monthly coaching sessions through the Mountain Sky region of the United Methodist Church.

As you may remember, we made a change in mid-January to offer three tiers to our yearly Network Membership: 1) Registration Level at $ 0.00, 2) Supporter Level at $ 50 per year and 3) Sustainer at $ 200 per year. This change has created has led to some more work that needs to be done on our website so we are asking for you to wait ( I know it is hard to wait!) to register until I send out a REGISTER NOW email!

We have also grown as regional coordinators. We now have 8 regional Coordinators for the USA. I have asked them to submit a short bio that I can use for a short blog post so that you can get to know them. As they get going, they hope to begin to offer some Messy Meet Ups.

There are two April Training events scheduled that are open for all. The first is April 7th at Roseburg First United Methodist Church in Roseburg, Oregon. The second is on April 14th at Layfayette UMC in the Bay Area of California. Information will be up soon on the website but if you are interested, send me a note at roberta@messychurch.org for more information.

News from Messy Church Canada Ideas and Resources for your Messy Church

Barbara Patterson, Regional Coordinator for Toronto sends a great link to gross motor skill activities and games from the What Moms Love website that are easily adaptable to a theme you might choose for your Messy Church gathering. Pictured below left is an obstacle course, and below right the Tape Shape Game where participants act out a mode of travel to a taped shape (i.e. creation story, how different animals move – walk like a crab to the triangle or slither like a snake to the diamond and so on). You will find 87 active indoor games at the link.

From What Mom's Love website

Lent and Easter Resources

Some great Lent and Easter ideas and resources from Kids Friendly (Presbyterian) in New Zealand – I especially liked the Lenten Calendar for families!• Lent Calendar for FamiliesMore ‘Kids Friendly’ Lent and Easter Resources

Messy Church Pinterest Boards for Lent and Easter from Cathy Garbutt and from BRF in the UK as well as from Lacey at 'Catholic Icing'

Lent Resources sent from Chris Barnett in Australia:  Lent from Flame Creative, Lent from Going4Growth

See also Jane Butcher's 'Faith in Homes' website in UK. 

Messy Lenten Blessings!