August Messy Church of the Month

Archive for Easter

August Messy Church of the Month

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

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

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

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

Some Favorite Messy Activities 

 Parachute Prayers: 

Example # 1: Jesus, We Thank You:

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

Example # 2 Snowball Prayer: 

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

More Favorite Messy Activities! 

Messy Church ThanksGIVING:

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

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

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

Resurrection Garden: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Easter YES!

Roberta Jantzi Egli, Messy Church USA Executive Director

I am exhausted!  How about you?  Last week my husband had a fever for 48 hours which upped my anxiety to overdrive.  I moved out of the bedroom and he was quarantined to that one room for six days (he had to be fever free for 3 days without any medicine).  I thought I had adjusted to the physical distancing and the limitations placed on us all with the pandemic but the fear that Lynn may have COVID-19 practically immobilized me for 24 hours.

We are fortunate, we have a home that has enough rooms so that we can separate when needed. Lynn was only sick for 48 hours and did not develop any further symptoms other than a fever and headache.  Yes, we were inconvenienced and stressed but it lasted less than a week. However, the virus became much more ‘real’ and my eyes have been open to the extreme suffering that COVID-19 is causing throughout our fragile world.

One of my pastor friends preached several weeks ago that she has never had to lead a church through a pandemic as a pastor.  She reminded us that what we all need is grace and compassion. Compassion for our world but also compassion for ourselves. You have never led a Messy Church during a pandemic.  You are adjusting, you are learning, you struggle at times. Please take time this Holy Week and next to rely on the grace of God and give yourself some self-compassion.

One of my spiritual practices the past several years is to place a “Listen for Joy” art card produced by Melanie Weidner (www.listenforjoy.com) on my desk each Monday morning. Melanie’s art card decks and her written reflection have spoken to me deeply.  I am always amazed that the card i randomly pick is exactly what I need to hear. This week, my art card is a drawing of a beautiful rooster shouting “Yes!” in the midst of heavy black scrawls.  in her reflection on this art, Melanie shares that saying yes is the invitation to do “our best even when we feel shaky. Standing our ground in darkness, believing the light will return.”

Saying yes is the invitation to do “our best even when we feel shaky. Standing our ground in darkness, believing the light will return.”

Melanie Weidner, Listen for Joy

What a message for a Holy Week in the midst of a global pandemic.  We are invited to stand our ground in darkness…the darkness as we pray with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane…the darkness as we pray for those who are separated from their beloved in sickness and death…the darkness of the cross of Good Friday…the darkness of living in the anxiety of the unknown future.  It is okay to feel shaky…we all feel shaky! Yet even in our shakiness, even as we stand our ground in darkness, we have the power through Christ to shout YES!

Yes! Jesus has overcome death!

Yes! Christ is risen!

Yes! We are an Easter People! 

Yes! As an Easter people, we see examples of people rising throughout the world bringing life through acts of compassion, kindness and love!  

My friends, we are not alone, Christ is with us at this time and all times.  May we joyfully shout a loud EASTER YES!

Be on the lookout for daily social media posts as we enter into 50 days of Easter celebration.  We will be posting some favorite Messy Easter activities for you to share with your families at home. We will be shouting yes for the entire 50 days of Easter! 

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!  YES!  Alleluia!

Prayer for Easter during a Pandemic:  God of all time, our hearts are heavy this Holy Week.  Many of our foundations have been shaken, we are not able to gather together as we struggle to make sense of the suffering of the world.  Yet, even as we shake, we know that the Christ who prayed in darkness while his friends slept, who endured pain and died on the cross, is with us this day.  Easter is not postponed this year… we celebrate the Christ is risen.  Give us the courage to give a loud Easter YES! to the signs of new life in the midst of our pain.  Send your Spirit to breathe peace upon us and guide us into the new day.  In the name of Christ we pray. AMEN.

Happy Easter!

Roberta 

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

Messy (and Muddy) Easter Blessings!

A blog post by Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA

iStock photo

When I was a young child, Easter Sunday began before dawn.  My father would wake us up in the dark of night to gather with other members of our church family to hike up a hill to watch the sunrise.  It was a tradition for this community of faith to gather as young and old, huddled in our rain jackets as we sang familiar songs and listened once again to the scripture proclaiming that Jesus the Christ was arisen! 

It was always a muddy trip both up and down the hill in the soggy Pacific Northwest and most of the years; we could only tell that the sun had risen, not from a glorious sunrise but that the clouded skies were getting lighter from the sun that we could not see. I have to admit that the most fun as a young child was to race down the hill to get to the hot chocolate and donuts that awaited us in the farmer’s barn.

I have thought of that all- age experience of a muddy and messy Easter of my childhood as I have seen the wondrous pictures of Easter being celebrated at Messy Churches all over the world.  What a gift you are giving to your Messy Churches as you creatively share the story of the good news of Easter.  Although I have not seen muddy pictures, I have reveled in seeing all of the chaotic mess and joy of people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to share in the love of God made alive through Easter.  

Happy Easter to you all,

Roberta

Pictures from the first ever Messy Church at St James United Methodist Church, Kingston, New York. Congratulations for a great start!

Pictures from the first ever Messy Church at St James United Methodist Church, Kingston, New York. Congratulations for a great start!

Messy Easter Greetings

April 3, 2018

Roberta J. Egli

What a blessing it is to see pictures on Facebook posts of all the Messy Easter celebrations all over the world! Pictures of Easter egg hunts from California to South Carolina, foil crosses from South Africa, empty chocolate egg tombs from the UK and a friend’s post who created a two foot lamb centerpiece shaped from Rice Krispies cereal and marshmallows. There are many creative ways in which to joyously celebrate the Risen Christ who brings us the promise that we can live a full and abundant new life today! Alleluia! 

Centerpiece or Dessert or Both?

I have been reflecting on this question from my Easter morning prayer, “Today, how will I live joyfully in God’s new creation?” I wrote the question on my April calendar so that I will be reminded each and every day to live joyfully. During this Easter season, I have made a commitment to daily engage in the spiritual practice of living joyfully!

This daily practice is a reminder to keep centered in the risen Christ, God’s new creation! I doubt if I am the only one who finds myself ‘out of balance’ at times. My life at times looks like a spinning top that is beginning to wobble prior to falling over! When I neglect or forget to keep Christ at the center of my life through daily prayer and reflection, everything begins to wobble which leads to frustration rather than joy!

Five Foundational Values of Messy Church

Being ‘Christ Centered’ is one of the foundational values for Messy Church. How does your Messy Church team keep yourself centered on Christ as you meet to review, plan and create your Messy Church? Finding ways to keep ourselves centered in Christ is the focus for our April newsletters. Over the next weeks look for these upcoming blog posts.

Let’s Keep Christ in the Center of Messy Church
 Pray Together
 Listen Deeply
 Explore our Core
 Practice, Practice, Practice!

I want to hear from you and your team. How are you keeping Christ in the center as you play, plan, create, lead and engage in messiness? Let’s learn from each other this spring!
Messy Blessings, Roberta

Messy Church USA Network News

Have you checked out the new directory page on our website? Is your Messy Church on the map? You must register yearly at one of the three network levels to become part of the directory. In March we had 18 new registrations on the website, four sustainer members, 10 supporter members and four registered members! THANK YOU!

We want to hear from you!  We need you to help us keep our directory up to date.  Do you know of another local church in your area that is not listed- contact them and encourage them to register. We are not able to meet our mission to connect each other in the Network when we don’t know that you have brought Messy Church to your neighborhood!

Please register your Messy Church with both Messy Church USA and with Messy Church International. Here’s why you should:As part of our Messy Church USA, your information will be put on directory on the website where people can find you! In addition, you will be connected with the network of Regional Coordinators who are available to provide support to your local Messy Church Team.

Registering your Messy Church on the International Messy Church site will ensure that your Messy Church will be included in the International database. Due to privacy laws, we are not able to share your contact information with the International Messy Church family; we need you to do that! Register on the Messy Church BRF website page. You will need to log and and create an account prior to registering. If you need assistance, let me know at roberta@messychurchusa.org. So don’t delay– sign up today!

Messy Easter…Telling the Story (Again)

by Johannah Myers, Regional Coordinator for North & South Carolina

Every year for Messy Easter, we see a surge in attendance. I don’t know whether it’s the season, parents looking for more Easter egg hunts, or what. All I know is that when we plan for Messy Easter, we plan for a crowd!

There are so many activities and possibilities for Messy Easter but after a few Messy Easters, it can feel as if we’ve done every activity out there. Where most Messy Church stories or themes are different each month, we’ve done Messy Easter before and will do it again every year. So how can we keep Messy Easter feeling fresh, even as we get set to tell this oh-so-essential story? Here are three ideas from our experience with Messy Easter over the past five years.

  1. Pick a theme. I know, I know, Easter is the theme. But one year Messy Easter could, for example, focus on Easter eggs (an Egg-stravaganza!). Pick your activities and crafts with that in mind. Dye Easter eggs, do an egg roll. In your celebration time, use Resurrection eggs to tell the Easter story. If you do an Easter egg hunt as part of your Messy Easter like we do, you can hide Resurrection eggs as a part of the hunt. Number the outside of the egg and as you tell the Easter story, call on the child who found that number egg to open it for everyone to see.
  2. Pick a story within the story. The passion story is your key story for Messy Easter, but what other characters can you use to tell that story? Last year for our Messy Easter, we used the legend of the donkey’s cross. We told the Easter story through the eyes of Esther, our donkey. We made donkey masks and had donkey snacks. Every family took home an illustrated set of story cards telling about Esther, the donkey, and how she encountered Jesus on Palm Sunday, in the Upper Room, at the cross, and at the empty tomb.
  3. Consider your layout. Do you usually scatter your activities around the room? For Easter, try arranging your activities in a new way. A simplified Stations of the Cross could work well here with different activities for each station of the cross. There are plenty of online resources for kid-friendly stations that would be helpful.
Esther the Donkey at Aldersgate UMC  Messy Easter 2017
Greensville, South Carolina

This year, our Messy Church team is planning for a Candyland theme. We’ll use activities that involve jelly beans and chocolate bunnies – things kids usually see in the stores this time of year. We’ll also set our activities up using the game Candyland as a model.

The focus at Messy Easter will always be the Easter story. But every year our team tries to consider how we can tell this story in a way that people hear it again for the first time.

Blessings, from Johannah Myers and Messy Church @ Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC.