August Messy Church of the Month

Archive for Prayer

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

Messy Summer Activities

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A Great Idea from Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Episcopal, Newport, NH

When churches closed in March our Messy Church family stayed in touch with each other via e-mail, snail mail and on Facebook but we never really found a way to connect as a group. As we began to discuss reopening, we began to think creatively about how Messy Church might be able to meet outdoors.  Living in the beautiful state of New Hampshire where there are many treasured outdoor spaces to explore, it seemed only natural to share these places and experiences with our Messy Church families. People can choose to do these activities on their own, with their families, or in small groups, however they feel most comfortable.  Some of these activities will be destinations, others will be activity based and can be done closer to home.

For each adventure we will offer activities, a reflection and a biblical story or theme to ground the experience. We are leaving room to let this program be shaped by the community. Our hope is that in time we will partner with Messy Church families to create these adventures, and that others will join in by posting their pictures on Facebook, creating a sort of hybrid Messy Church experience.

Stay tuned to see where the journey takes us, you can follow along on the Facebook page for Epiphany or St Andrews.  

Messy Adventure# 1 is based on this verse from Isaiah 40: 31:those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,they shall mount up with wings like eagles,they shall run and not be weary,they shall walk and not faint.” 

Download the PDF below. 

All-Ages Together  Summer Prayers

Even though my youngest son is a young adult, one of our favorite summer activities is roasting hot-dogs over a campfire and  enjoying S’more’s together.  So I was excited when I came across a post from Christine V. Hides and the idea of a family prayer based S’more ingredients. Check it out  here. 

Have you prayed with a beach ball before? You may not be able to get together in person to play this but you could use these different examples via on-line or perhaps you can find some beach balls at a dollar store and print out the prayer to send in a take home bag to your Messy Folk.  Here are a few Beach Ball Prayers:

If you need some more Messy Folk Summer activities, check out these 24 Wild and Wet Messy Folk Activities HERE.

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

Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

Roberta J. Egli

“We are made in the image of God, and God is the great Creator of new things and re-creator of people and communities who are broken. As we create and play together, we echo (God’s) creativity and we are renewed and repaired ourselves.”

Lucy Moore, Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ- Centered Community

My husband is the gardener in our family! He patiently plants bulbs and waits for them to spring up out of the ground.  He gave up on a few bulbs he planted earlier this spring only to be surprised when a little green shoot came out of the ground much later than he expected.  The growth that was occurring underneath the ground was beyond our visual perception.

As I engage in conversations regarding what is next for Messy Church in the USA, as well as the global community, I wonder how God is creating something new, even though we may not perceive it.  I wonder if the anxiety that I feel arising from the unknown to the many complex questions regarding how Messy Church adapts to our changed world blocks me from placing my trust in our creator God.  Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Messy Church USA board member, shared in her recent sermon on July 12 that “we need to look to God rather than the past or the future…we are to live in the in-between space trusting in God.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Trusting in our Creator God and grounding ourselves in the messy foundational value of creativity, I am wondering….

  • What are the most effective ways our Messy Church USA network to engage with one another to learn from one another and to perceive the movement of the Spirit?
  • What kind of resources do local church Messy Leaders and the households they engage with need at this time?  How can we most effectively provide those resources without overwhelming overworked people engaged in ministry?
  • How can we equip local Messy Churches to engage with their Messy folk through on-line, in-person or hybrid experience?
  • How do we stay grounded in our five values of Hospitality, Creativity, Celebration, All-Ages Together and Christ Centered as we experiment with new forms of Messy Church?
  • How do we envision new ways of being Messy Church in our changed world?
  • What are the spiritual practices that we need so that we can more clearly perceive God’s presence and guidance for our ministry?

On July 23rd at 10 am Pacific time, you are invited to a Messy Church USA Zoom town hall to engage with the above questions as well as questions that you bring to the conversation.  Here is a link to the Zoom invitation. 

My friends, this is a difficult time.  This is the first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that we have had to navigate.  Many of us who work in the church, use the summer to plan out the worship and curriculum for the coming school year.  However, everything is constantly changing which causes our plans to not be relevant in just a few short days or week.  Let us place our trust in our Creator God who is making something new that we cannot even imagine right now.  Let us live in a sense of curiosity rather than anxiety as we experiencing the unfolding of the next weeks and month.   I look forward to our ongoing conversations as I hold you in prayer this day.

Prayer: As you find yourself in times of uncertainty, may you perceive God creating a new thing within your life and community. In the places that are broken, may you experience the healing power of Christ. In the spaces where community is being re-created, may you place your trust in God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. May your spirit be renewed as you place your trust in the God of Love.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,  Roberta

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

Messy Adventure- Take Two- Journey with Jesus to a Hillside

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As per the previous blog post, while sitting in our respective home offices, many people journeyed around the world on a Messy Adventure on May 21st.  This fifteen-hour YouTube live event was the brainstorm of Messy Church founder, Lucy Moore.  Messy Church USA collaborators provided two one-hour sessions for the world event.   

Our second one-hour session explored a few of the many teachings from what is known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from Matthew 5-8. We began by taking a hike with Jim and his dog Milo to the mountains surrounding Palmdale, CA.  Jim shared some background on this important teaching of Jesus before he showed us the lights that began to shine brighter after the sunset.   

We explored sharing the light of Christ through pictures, a science experiment, hearing the scripture in another hike in Texas, a story around the campfire and learning the art of making cards to share with others.   We also explored ways in which people are reaching out to others during the Pandemic to share Christ’s light.  We ended our session with the prayer that Jesus taught his followers on the hillside shared from around the world.  

Below is the outline for the Messy Session.  The link for the video follows the outline. Be sure to also check out the bonus video from Community UMC that we did not get into our session due to a oops glitch. 

Light your Light Shine
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Jesus journeys to a hillside to teach Messy Adventure

Theme: Share the Light of Christ

Scripture:  Matthew 5: 1,14-16 (NRSV)

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them…You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”

Outline

  • Hike with Jim and Milo
  • Science Experiment with Light
  • Video Montage -Where have you seen Light of Christ during the Pandemic?
  • Scripture reading with Jenna and her dog in Texas
  • Song
  • Making Cards to share Messy Activity
  • Other ways to share light of Christ
  • Lord’s Prayer from around the world

Join the Journey to Hillside Adventure Here

Find the entire Around the World Messy Adventures Here

Bonus Video from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach Here 

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

A Confession and Prayer for the USA

A Blog Post from Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director of Messy Church USA

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Several weeks ago, as I was preparing material for our “Jesus Journeys to the Jordan” Global Messy Adventure video, I debated telling the story of the African American spiritual hymn, Wade in the Water. I kept thinking of the song as I recorded videos of the Willamette river close to my home and wanted to use the song in the video but sensed a need to share the story and confess to our global Messy Church brothers and sisters in the USA we have not faced our original foundational sin of racism. However, I ended up not using the video as it didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the story we wanted to tell.

On Memorial Day, I realized that I could no longer be silent regarding our country’s complicity in the continuation of systemic racism. In one day, the news lit up with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and the story of a white woman who deliberately called police during a conflict with an African American bird watching man in Central Park NY. I realize that I can only speak from my experience as a white woman of privilege.  I do believe that I must listen, study, confess and learn while also having the courage to speak. 

These words from Jim Winkler, National Council of Churches President, convict me that I can no longer stay silent.

We are all responsible for doing the hard work to end racism and white supremacy, especially white people. The burden cannot always be on our African American brothers and sisters. These are not just ideologies or individual opinions. These are the systemic issues at the core of American society and it is deadly. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ring loudly: ‘Riots are the language of the unheard.’ Our nation needs healing but there can be no healing without justice.

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So the following is what i initially wrote two weeks ago and the rough video that I recorded beside the river that was not used in our Messy Adventure from Messy Church USA video.    

Wade in the water is one of more than six thousand African American spirituals that have been cataloged. Water is an important image in the African American Spiritual…water was a primary aspect of slave experience—the ‘middle passage’ marked the beginning of their captivity as they traveled across the ocean to a new land in slave ships.  The Ohio River was the dividing line between slavery and freedom on the Underground Railroad.

There is a story, although not confirmed,  that Harriet Tubman and other underground railroad conductors used songs like Wade in the Water. They were songs with their own codes that communicated hidden messages that guided slaves on their dangerous journey to freedom.  It is thought that “Wade in the Water” was used to tell slaves to get into the water to avoid being seen and make it through. This is an example of a map song, where directions are coded into the lyrics.

God’s a gonna trouble the water is taken from the scripture in John 5 when the Spirit came down and troubled the water at the Bethesda pool (also known as the pool by the sheep gate).  When the water had been stirred, whomever was able to get into the water first was healed of their disease. Many people were waiting by the pool. One man had waited for 38 years as he required help from others to enter the pool.

Howard Thurman- an African American theologian wrote,“For the slaves the ‘troubled waters’ meant the ups and downs of life. Within the context of the ‘troubled waters” of life there are healing waters, because God is in the midst of the turmoil. Do not shrink form moving confidently out into the choppy seas. Wade in the water, because God is troubling the water.”

Slavery is part of our history as United States of America—not one we are proud of but one that we must acknowledge before we can move forward for justice for all. Before we take a moment to remember our baptism, it is important to remember the things in our past and present that separate us from receiving God’s love.

Wade in the Water Video

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Questions for Messy Church USA to ponder:

  • How might Messy Church be a sign of hope in the midst of our despair?
  • How might Messy Church be a place where we can build bridges?
  • How might we talk in our Messy Churches about race, about diversity, about justice?
  • Messy Church loves hands-on creativity. What might our confessions look, taste, feel, smell like? How can we put these confessions, worries, hopes, etc into something creative or tangible? 

Resources for Conversations about Racism with children and all ages

Prayer

God of all ages, from the beginning of time, we have turned away from your vision of love as you desired beloved community and we broke our relationship with you and one another. We are a broken people…we are a broken nation. Forgive us for our refusal to see clearly our sin of racism. Forgive us…send your mercy. Guide us in taking steps to know peace and justice and to work together to create equity from our chaos. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit who is always creating something new, AMEN.

My friends, I am praying for you…I am praying for us. May the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. AMEN.

Grace and peace, Roberta

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

Scattered Senses

A blogpost by Roberta J. Egli

Morning Prayer at the Egli backyard

Over the past weeks of this stay at home pandemic reality, I have begun most days drinking coffee in our backyard, in the cool spring morning, listening to a daily devotional a friend recommended titled Lectio 365.  Like many good things (i.e. Messy Church) it originates from the UK and uses the rhythm of P.R.A.Y; Pause, Rejoice and Reflect, Ask, and Yield.  I have resonated deeply with the opening invitation to pause: “As I enter prayer, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.”  (Learn more Here)

As someone who has worked from home for almost three years, I have been surprised at how difficult it has been for me to focus for a sustained period of time during this physical distance work rhythm.  My mind is scattered, jumping from one thought to the next attempting to figure out what the future of Messy Church USA will look like which leads me to get stumped because this is a completely new reality for us all.  We are living in an extended pause and even though part of the USA is beginning to ‘re-open’, we will not be returning to any semblance of what life looked like prior to COVID-19. Taking a moment to be still and breathe the prayer; “re-center by scattered senses upon the presence of God” has been a life preserver to cling to.

I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.

Morning Prayer, Lectio 365

In the Bible paraphrase, The Message, by Eugene Peterson, Jesus gives strength to his followers with these words: “Are you tired? Worn out burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message)

My friends, we have all responded to this pandemic in different ways. Each day may find us experiencing wildly different emotions.  I have heard people describing ‘roller coasters’ of emotions. As we continue to step into the unknown future, may we put our trust in our God of all time. We are not alone; God is with us.  We are not alone; a global Messy Church community gathers to share ideas, experiences and a taste of life.  We are not alone; we can rely on the unforced rhythm of grace rather than our own anxieties, scattered senses or strategies to re-open. We are invited into the unforced rhythm of grace as we simply take one step and then another as we follow in the way of Jesus the Christ.    

My friends, wherever you find yourself,whatever emotion you are experiencing, take a deep breath, pause for a moment and center your scattered senses on the presence of God. (repeat often!)

Grace and peace, Roberta 

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 

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.

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