Messy Church (MC) USA Board of Directors’ Secretary, MC USA Co-Regional Coordinator of California, Community UMC Messy Church Leader and MC USA Trainer
In a recent Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator (RC) meeting we discussed the impact of “social distancing” with our Messy Church friends. We acknowledged that we were all feeling a bit overwhelmed and exhausted. We missed being with our Messy families! We wanted to connect and were grateful for all of the online Messy@home activities. However, we were also concerned about overwhelming others just as we were feeling overwhelmed. In our quest to be helpful and reach out with Messy Church friends, were we exhausting one another rather than connecting with one another?
I’m a Pre-k teacher at our church preschool as well as a leader for our Messy Church. Prior to our RC meeting, I watched a video by Sally Haughey, the founder of Fairy Dust Teaching. In the class, she talked about the importance of connecting with children and their families from our classes while our schools were closed. Haughey’s teaching is helpful as we prioritize our connections with our Messy Church friends and families.
Sally began by asking the question we’ve all been struggling with over the past few weeks…
What do families need in this time of uncertainty, when everything is new and many are faced with some level of economic instability?
The simple answer is connection. Sally shared that all humans have two basic needs during a time of crises. First, we want to feel safe, and second, we want to be seen, heard and valued – even in the middle of the mess.
Our messy Church families need connection! In our monthly Messy Churches, we provide a safe space where our needs are recognized and embraced as we build relationships in our faith community. Relationships (with each other and with GOD) are the heart of Messy Church. Because of these relationships, our Messy Churches have become an important, not to be missed, monthly worship for many of our attenders.
So how can we, as Messy Church Leaders, help our Messy friends and families feel safe right now and also seen, heard and valued when we aren’t meeting? Sally suggests that people feel secure in these basic needs when their normal life rhythms are consistently maintained. Messy Church is a part of the normal monthly rhythm for those that attend and with the cancellations; it is another way their normal rhythms have been disrupted. Our Messy Friends and Families need consistent personal connection with us to maintain some normalcy.
Making personal connections help our Messy friends and families feel seen, heard and valued. People who come to your Messy Church are connected to YOU. Our Messy Church has made a point to call or Face Time with each of our Messy friends. We’ve split our list between Planning Team Leaders and our Table hosts. Just as when we are sitting at craft tables or sharing a meal with our families at Messy Church, a personal call is a good opportunity to listen and find out how our Messy Friends are doing, where they are struggling and/or where they are experiencing joys. Because relationships are two sided, it gives us the opportunity to share our joys and concerns and where we’ve seen God at work lately possibly deepening the connection we’ve already established at Messy Church.
The main point to convey to our Messy Friends during this time of uncertainty is that they matter to us and just like God, we are there for them. How can we share our hearts and God’s love at this time?
Another important point Sally made is that it isn’t the quantity of activities but the QUALITY of engagement that matters. This is the same advice many of us have given at Messy Church training when asked “How can we do “more” in our Messy Church?”
There are many great online resources that have been created that we want to share with our Messy friends, yet we do not need to pass on or implement every great idea! We are doing enough. The main point to convey to our Messy Friends during this time of uncertainty is that they matter to us and just like God, we are there for them. How can we share our hearts and God’s love at this time?
Tips on ways to make a personal connection from the heart:
Call or Face Time with your messy friends and families.
Send a note to families
Use the phone to connect
Create a short (one minute or less) video of your Messy Team that you can text or email. Let your Messy friends know that you are thinking about them, praying for them, and that you miss seeing them.
Remind them of the lessons we teach at each of our Messy Church geographical locations: 1) God is with us all the time (even in the middle of a messy pandemic), 2) God loves all of us, 3) God gives us strength and 4) God can do amazing things.
There is NO limit to how creative you can be in sharing God’s unconditional love. The point is that these personal messages will connect in a real way, that links to online resources and messages from strangers giving the same messages, will not.
Even in the midst of physical distancing, instead of incessant ‘doing’, our mission is to share God’s love from our heart through a personal connection.
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!
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Happy New Year! It’s that time, again. Time for new beginnings, getting life in order, and an official New Year’s resolution. My resolution is the same as it is most years…get in better shape! Most every year, I vow to eat better, run more, and reach a certain number on the scale by a certain set date. I know if I put everything else aside, not give into temptation, and workout like crazy, those few extra pounds will be gone in no time. The New Year starts fast and furious with clean eating and exercise and starts to peter out around the end of January. My eating returns to its normal mostly healthy (but could be better) self, and the running returns to two times a week. I stay this way for most of the year and start all over again the following January. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but a trip to Messy Church has me thinking that the change to my body actually starts in my head, and not in my kitchen.
Last Saturday we sat through a fun, interactive, Messy explanation of Epiphany (the manifestation of God to the world through His son, Jesus Christ). It was exciting to see my children realize that, despite the fact that the presents have all been opened, Christmas does not end on December 25. We learned about the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany and also learned some of the ways people celebrate Epiphany in other countries. Although it was interesting, I have to admit that my mind began to wander while sitting in that pew. Why don’t my kids know about Epiphany? Why aren’t we talking about the birth of Jesus and the significance of God’s gift to us after the lights come down and the tree is thrown out? We work vigorously through the holiday season drilling into them that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but the second the stockings come down, it’s back to life as usual. Don’t worry, God, we will see you again next December!
This isn’t to say we don’t bring up God at all. We pray as a family and we attend Messy Church…ahem…once a month. Sigh. Then it hits me. The reason my kids don’t know about Epiphany is because I approach my relationship with God, the same way I approach my resolutions. Fast and furious until I burn out. For us, Christmas is shopping, Messy Church, “don’t forget about Jesus”, a school craft, letters, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, nativity story, Christmas goodies, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, parties, caroling, and, oh yeah, did we mention Jesus? By the time Epiphany rolls around, I’ve made up my mind that my due diligence for my kids, when it comes to God, has already been met. Our once a month trip to Messy Church and nightly prayers will take care of the rest until the next holiday season.
All of this leaves me wondering what would happen if I took a beat and just slowed down. What if my New Year’s resolution was not to hit a certain number on the scale by a certain time but rather to get healthy and stay that way for life. It would require a change in my thought process. It won’t be instant gratification but a life commitment. Now, what if I did the same thing with God? Instead of working hard just once a year to prove that my relationship with God is still on point, I make a commitment to work on my relationship with Him daily and turn it into a life goal for me and my family, and skip the fast and furious recap next year.
It won’t be easy, but most resolutions are put into place because there is a need for change somewhere in your life. And, yes, change is hard. But, your relationship with God doesn’t have to be. It’s fantastic to give back and be more Christ-like during the holidays but the amount of effort we put in during that month may not be sustainable year around. Take it slow. Look at the resolutions in your life, whatever they may be, as a marathon, not a race. If we take the time to nurture the relationship we have with God for the long haul, we can ditch the madness we create playing catch up, and instead enjoy a more realistic, viable, and more meaningful link to our beloved savior.
Messy Church USA is a newly formed nonprofit 501c3 corporation. Messy Church USA has been formed to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition, Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. Read more.