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Monthly Archives: December 2008

As the year passes…

We are just about to change the calendar.  As I write, I watched the celebrations from Australia over breakfast.  It was beautiful, lots of lights over the harbour.  We will celebrate this evening, by preparing to open our home tomorrow.

It’s become a tradition we look forward to – we have celebrated Christmas with our families, and we celebrate the New Year with our Church family, (and some good friends come to).  Jeff has been working in the train room this year, and the bench work is looking mighty fine.  I have been baking, and candy making, and planning to feed those who grace our doorway with a visit.

We have extended invitations, provide driving instructions (where necessary), cleaned house, and are making sure that everyone will feel welcome in our home.  The food has been planned for a variety of dietary needs, and I will lay it out in a way that is pleasing to the eye, as well as easy to reach.  The train room is being prepared so that people will catch a vision of what is to come in the empire on the lower level.

This has me thinking…we invite people to join us at our Worship service(s), tell them that they will be welcome, and then what?  What do we do to prepare for the company we are expecting.

Do we say we love families, and then have nothing for the children to participate in?  Do we greet at the door with a warm smile, or just hand out the bulletins?  Do we use language that is hard for those who didn’t grow up in the pew to understand, or do we intentionally communicate so that all will be able to hear the Good News?  Do we have traditions that are only known by those in the community, or do we assume nothing, and print the words to everything the congregation is invited to share in?

I want people to be as welcome in my church home, as I strive to make people in my own home.  We have the best news in the world to celebrate, we need to make sure that everyone who come in contact with that, “gets it”.  That means setting aside insider traditions, unspoken expectations, and having everything in place.

Nursery, children’s programming, colouring pages all can remove the stress for a young family in the pew.  Powerpoint with the words to the songs (including the Lord’s prayer) need to be at the ready for the company who have come to meet the God we want to introduce them to.  Jesus didn’t say, “Pray as you have overheard me mumble,  but “Pray in this manner”.  He actually taught them the model, and didn’t assume they would just catch on by listening.  My New Year’s resolution this year is to remember that not everyone can read my mind (whew!!), and that I need to share what is going on inside of it…as Andy Stanley says, “Vision leaks”.  I want to leak all over the place this year, as I help our families get ready for company – on a weekly basis.

For those of you who might think I’m writing with just one church in mind – I’m not really.  Where I serve, we are very intentional about making people welcome (but we always need to revisit what we are doing).  I have spent a lot of time being a guest in other churches over the years, and sometimes, I don’t feel very welcome.  I know I always need to examine what I am doing, and my prayer is that others will too.

May your New Year’s be a blessed one, and as you prepare for guests in your home, remember to make ready our Church home for people in the same way.

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Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Getting a gift the giver wasn’t aware of…

As I write this, all of my prepartations for Christmas are accomplished.  And if they are not, they won’t get done…

 Tonight, I attended our church’s Christmas Eve Service.  It was wonderful to see so many people, including a good number of those from our Contemporary Service too.  We had so many children that i almost ran out of the 36 activity books I had prepared for them.  The music was great, and the message superb and challenging ( take a listen at reformedtheology.ca for a sample).

Christmas greetings were exchanged, and as folks were exiting out, I was greeted, by 2 different families.  Each one of them gave me, the one who oversees the Christian Education for their children, gifts unmeasurable.

The first mom shared that their family’s thanks for the Christmas Party in a Bag that I had sent home last week.  The family had make the cupcakes, and the accompanying devotional.  She then went on to say that they needed to share the party with some cousins, so off they went to a family celebration. I love that, they were so excited about having a party for Jesus, that they just had to share.

It’s kind of like the shepherds.  When the they had found the baby Jesus, just as the angels had said they would, they didn’t just go back to the flocks they were tending.  No, they went and told what they had seen…Good News is just too much to hold to yourself.

The next mom gave me a big hug and told me that as the night’s scripture  (Luke 2) was being read, he turned to her and said, “I know this part mom, we’ve been learning that in Quench” (The Well’s Children’s Ministry).  You know, as a teacher of very active children, you always wonder if anything is getting through.  Yet, last Sunday, we talked about the shepherds, and how excited they were to be able to tell about their experience.  This young boy had not only heard the story, he remembered it, and knows why it’s important.

So, with a very warm heart, and reminder about why I do what I do, I have already had a wonderful Christmas, and the day’s celebrations are still a sleep away.

Merry Christmas to you all, and let me ask you – how will you share the News like the shepherds on their way home from the manger?  I, for one, don’t want to keep The Good News to myself.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2008 in Family ideas, News and Updates

 

Happy Birthday

This past Sunday, I sent the families of SGK home with a gift bag.  Inside were all the necessary ingredients to have a Birthday Party.  Cupcake mix and papers, streamers, icing, candles, and more were included with a letter and a 4 part devotion.

I love to do this with the families I serve.  It allows me to provide some tools for a great discussion about the Biblical importance of what we are celebrating.   Without having yet another event that families need to attend, they are able to find the time to have a time of learning together, while having fun at the same time.

I see myself as a partner in the job of giving kids the “tool box” they need for a faith that will carry them through their lives.  It’s a partnership I take very seriously, and get excited when parents actually engage with the resources we can provide.

I get 1 hour/week (actually it’s about 25-30 minutes in light of our Sunday morning routine), to reach them with the foundations of trusting in Jesus as their Saviour.  We (the teacher’s and I) seek to make the hour as condusive to faith imprintin as we can.  Contrast that to the hours each day that a family has to make the same impact. 

I know that a child’s life is just as busy as mom and dad’s.  But when you take into account the soccer, sleeping, meetings, school, work, travel, etc., etc., there is still more than 30 minutes each week for a family to have significant conversations.

This is why I like to partner with parents to give them tools that will help open discussions on eternal matters.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear that one of the tools provided has made a difference.

Just last week, I was having a discussion with one of the moms in our Sunday School.  The very first week back, the kids and I made a craft that had a prayer on it.  He took it home, and it was placed in his room.  Mom just told me that they memorized it, and it is part of his prayer every night…I almost cried.  That is what partnership with parents can do.  I can provide all the tools, but until it is placed in the hands of the parents and made to be part of “everyday”, it is just another thing to take up room.

On days when I think that people just don’t get the priority our children need to be, God sends stories like this to my ears.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2008 in Family ideas

 

What if we were generous all year long?

 

This Christmas, I have had an experience that was brand new to me.  Having been involved, in one way or another, with Operation Christmas Child for 10 years now, one of the things I have never done, however, is take the gathered boxes to the collection depot.

 

I took our 75 boxes to St. Andrew’s Islington.  During the brief time I was there, I’m sure 10 other vehicles were doing the same thing.  The room was full of very happy volunteers, and at least 1,000 boxes.  It was most incredible.  I asked the key organizer, how many had come in, and in 3 days, 5,000 boxes had been dropped off, and she is certain that they will exceed 10,000 boxes – and that’s just to our closest location.  There are 16 points of collection in the GTA alone.  That’s 160,000 shoeboxes from just this part of the province.

 

Christmas seems to just bring out the best in people, doesn’t it?  We are more generous with our time, our talents and our resources.  Already our White Gift baskets are filling up, and the Boarding Homes team is ready to help us shop for that ministry too.  We, as a congregation, are a very generous bunch of people, and for that let me say “Thanks” for shining our light so brightly.

 

How awesome would it be if we, as a culture, were that generous all year, not just for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  What if the church lived out the generosity that God lavishes on us?  What impact would we make in our neighbourhood, the city, Canada, and beyond?

 

On the library door, the bulletin board reads: “ See what great love the Father has lavished on us”, says the apostle John, “that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, TNIV).  How awesome it is that you and I are royalty.  Because our Father, the King of Kings, loved us so much to send His Only Son, you and I get to be in the Royal Family.

 

That’s what Christmas is all about:  God coming in the flesh, to invite His family back, through the birth, life, death and resurrection of His Son.  As we share that message this season, let’s shine as brightly as the star that told the world the Baby was here.

 

Happenings:

Our children will be sharing their talents during the 10:00 am service on the 21st of December.  We have invited the families of The Well to join us, and the Fellowship committee has offered to host a Birthday Party for Jesus after the Service.  Joan Dea is doing a great job making sure that all the kids are well rehearsed.

 

Please watch for a gift bag for the families being sent home on the 14th or 21st of December.  It is the devotion for this Christmas.  There is no “craftiness” involved, and can be done over just one evening or afternoon.  If yours is not a family with children in the Sunday  School, and you would like to take part in this, please speak to me, and I will see that the kit is made available to you.

 

Our youngest members need you.  We have a marvellous opportunity to show the families at both of our services how important they are to us.  Our nursery and teaching staff are always happy to have new workers join them.  Please prayerfully consider your availibilty to care for, or teach, on a once-a-month basis.

 

This Christmas marks my second anniversary with you.  Thank you for you encouragement, your prayers and your support in the work I have the privilege to do among you.  Truly, I am Joyfully yours.  May the peace of the One and Only Son of our Father, be with you and your family this Christmas Season.  I pray that you will be able to find time to spend just with Him this year.

 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2008 in News and Updates