Picture Reminders

This is how I often define a symbol to children.

A symbol is a picture reminder.

When referring to our Children’s Church table, I would point and say, “This cross is a picture reminder of Jesus.”

Of course there are other symbols, other reminders. And all reminders are not merely visual.

“When the cross is carried down the center aisle,” I will explain to children, “then we see it – it is our picture reminder of Jesus. But Jesus did not stay on that cross, did he?” I will wait for them to boldly answer, “NO!” and sometimes there will be extra explanations from many. I will continue, “No, he came to life again, proving that He is King over crosses and death and all the world.”

I will ask, “What would we do if the King of all the world walked into this room?”

Our children, because this has become routine, would both answer “bow” and also do it as they said it. Bowing. Perhaps even kneeling.

Bowing can be a picture reminder for us. When I see those around me do it, then I am reminded that I am in a place where we are remembering that Jesus, who died on a cross, is the King of all the World.

But when I bow, then it is more than a picture. It is an action. It is worship in movement.

I love liturgical worship because it is all engaging. I see and hear. I smell. I move and feel. I taste.

And yes, somewhere in the Eucharistic service, the reminding and remembering becomes the very presence of God. Sometimes in water. Sometimes in bread. Sometimes in wine.

Holy Week provides many opportunities to remember. In some of our services, there is touching and doing and smelling and tasting. There is the great chasm of emotion …

from triumph and joy to fatigue and despair,

from shouts of hosannas to cries of fear and blame and name calling,

from trembling to silence,

from dark to light,

from shock to delight,

Ash Wednesday and Lent and Palm Sunday and Holy Week are the seasons where I abandon all my disgust (from inadequacies) for crafting and plunge into the world of making. Making picture reminders.

Or, buying one 🙂

I’d love to invite you to my pinterest board and ask you to send me some pins to add of your favorite picture reminders.   

And if you’d like to win something from my new favorite etsy shop – jesse tree treasures – see them here –


Then share this blog post (not the etsy pin, but you can do that, too!) with a friend via email or facebook and comment below

In the comment, tell me who you shared the post with and where you would display your Holy Week ornaments if you won. I’ll try to get your set to you by Holy Week this year. I’ll try!

One random winner chosen at 8pm this Monday, March 16th!

Blessings, friends!

Listening Guides

To “Children’s Church” or not to “Children’s Church” is the question each parish and each parent must answer for themselves. We opted to begin a Children’s Church program early on in my tenure at Church of the Apostles because I, in part, thought that it was needed. Why needed? We claimed to be open to the “unchurched visitor.” And I knew that visitors unaccustomed to long services would need a break from their smallest distractions.

But we still believed that children worship and were welcome in worship and should be learning the practice of worship.

Our Children’s Church mirrors the efforts of the actual liturgy that the children miss while gone from the service and, hopefully, teaches them to participate by the time they graduate.

Still, I wish there were tools available to help our children participate. I sometimes encourage parents to do certain things – like whisper – to their children as the liturgy progresses.

Whisper what, you ask? Well, these kinds of things would be allowed in my book. I can’t make you one for your service every week, but take a peek at one of my listening guides.

The First Sunday of Advent Children Listening Guide

The Power of Word and Liturgy

(written in 2008)

It has happened many nights these past few weeks. Andy has asked Ian, “Do you want to say the Lord’s Prayer?” Ian’s answer is always, “Yes.” And, in a surprising venture from our typical toddler “God, Our Father,“ echo blessing, Andy and I will begin to recite King James language on bended knees in a bedroom full of picture books and toy tractors.

Inevitably, I will raise my head and peek at our two year old, seated on the bed, legs dangling into his daddy’s chest, and I will be caught off guard. Our bundle of animation will be transfixed, staring intently into his daddy’s moving lips, trying from time to time to mimic a word at the end of a phrase. In that moment, I will be reminded of a great truth. The Word is powerful. My son’s curiosity is a testament to it.

On one of these nights, a different power revealed itself in me. On Lord’s Prayer nights, Andy will normally add his own prayer at the end, inserting our personal family thanksgivings and requests. But, on this night, we completed our recitation and I found myself continuing …

The gifts of God for the people of God.

The naturalness that this flowed shocked me. This is not part of the Lord’s Prayer, I thought to myself. Where did it come from? Why did I say it? In my own home, I was struck with an almost humiliated panic, feeling as if what I had done made no sense – and I would have to explain it.

But Andy’s prayer interrupted my thoughts, and with relief, I discovered that I had not said these additional words aloud. I went to bed, safe with my secret.

The next day was Sunday and I quickly made sense of my new found connection. You likely understand already. In the liturgy of our church, the Lord’s Prayer is followed by the invitation to Communion. I smiled that day when the priest presented the elements. After a mere 2 ½ years in this Anglican tradition, the liturgy showed it’s power in me.

It was more than the power of habit. It was a power of connection and celebration. I cannot fully describe the emotion that I felt when I uttered those words to myself that night. I can only tell you that while my knees were bent in prayer, my heart leapt at the prayer’s conclusion. In my mind, I was standing, with arms outstretched, ready to accept the gifts of God, ready to believe that in all days in all ways, He is giving good gifts.

It is these kinds of experiences that I pray will happen in the Children’s Sunday School and Children’s Worship times at Church of the Apostles. May curious hearts and minds experience the power of the Word and the mystery of the Liturgy.