Story: Sights and Sounds

I was there when a creation unfolded yesterday.

Pouring water echoed in the sanctuary, and when the font was filled, he leaned over it, slow and deliberate, and breathed.

A baby, a toddler, and a woman were baptized.

But I saw more.

I saw the ages of time replayed for all of us to remember.

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.
Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage
in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus
received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy
Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death
and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

(Baptismal Liturgy, Book of Common Prayer)

I was reminded of Genesis and Exodus and the Gospel stories.

And I marveled again at the repetition of water throughout the biblical narrative.

And I knew that creation, and the exodus from Egypt, and the baptism of Jesus should be included in our foundational stories.

What do you find in the creation account that repeats itself in scripture …

Last year I grabbed a trio of words.



Breath of life.

I returned to the storytelling training from my time in the preschool department of Bible Study Fellowship.

There I was encouraged to study each passage for words to define, dialogue to highlight, and descriptions to showcase. Our leader, Ms. Sherry, called them the “Three D’s.”

And so I encourage you to tell your stories with extreme care.

But let there be sights and sounds, and perhaps a bowl of water to touch in your classroom …

How do you bring the stories to life?



How much do you teach them?

My students will never win at Bible Jeopardy.

That’s not my goal.

I’d rather teach my preschoolers how to join in, participating alongside youth and adults, in that hour right before or after Sunday School called big church, morning worship, or mass.

If you desire head knowledge to become heart knowledge, 

If you believe that it is in our worship that God meets us,

If you want childlike faith to continue into the future,

Then I believe that you’ll best see your Christian education time as a partnership with and primary preparation for Eucharist.

And while I certainly believe that ongoing biblical studies are beneficial for a lifetime, I believe that it is the repetitious sacramental experiences with the church body that truly shape us and our faith.

Years ago, when I began compiling 52 Stories, I considered how each story answered three questions.

  • Who am I?
  • Who is God?
  • How should I live?

Let’s look at that creation beginning that I mentioned. (prior post in series here)

  • God is the creator of all things.
  • I am one of his creations.
  • Therefore, I should …

Praise him?

A child will ask, What is praise?”

I could explain, “A praise might be a great compliment.”

But, really, it may be much simpler to take this child by the hand and lead him into your sanctuary or chapel or to your mini-altar table.

It may be most effective to simply praise the creator of all things, bowing together within a place of beauty, and reciting a Creation Psalm, singing together The Doxology, or answering a common refrain such as this,




Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever.


What parts of worship would you include in your beginning unit on creation?



Adventure Week Eight

Have you ever prepared a meal for a crowd?

How large a crowd?

Have you ever counted pennies to cover your grocery bill?

How many pennies?

Have you ever been hungry?

Really hungry?

Doesn't this look yummy?
Doesn’t this look yummy?

Adventure Week Eight started months ago. Spring 2015. I was there at church on a Sunday morning in the lull that comes between the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the table –

Announcement time.

And Father Lyon began telling us what our corporate act of mercy would be in Lent 2016.

The vestry of Church of the Good Shepherd had decided to partner with Feeding Children Everywhere. Over the course of the year, we would aim to collect $4,000 and on Saturday, 20 February 2016, we would work together in the Parish Hall during our Lenten Retreat Day to assemble meals for 10,000 hungry children.

You read that right.

10,000 meals.

I was super excited. But I did wonder how.

What kind of meals? What sort of assembly line?

Cooked ones? Surely not, some of the meals this organization provides are for international needs.

Meals to freeze? That couldn’t be. Our building doesn’t have freezer space.

Geesh. Space?

Our parish hall is not that big. How many volunteers needed? How many supplies?

Mind. Blown.

But still excited.

Throughout the year we heard short announcement blips. From the beginning, the attitude presented was – we are going to do this.

And we are going to do it together.

And we did.

My Saturday started with Eucharist at 8.30 am. .The readings were aptly chosen. The gospel reading was about – what else – LOVE. And included the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Our meals were going to Syrian refugees and our prayers were specifically for them. I wish I could include them here, but I haven’t figured out how yet. Touching. Powerful.

And the homily instructed us that when we left the sanctuary and began doing our work, that our work would be incarnational.

Incarnational work is not always perfect.

There was a little attitude on our assembly line. Watch this commercial video, if you will, and notice the assembly line organization. They’ve got it down to a science.

(And yes, on my particular line Saturday morning, it was a science. We had a chemist, a nurse, and a nuclear engineer.)

We made bags of lentil casserole. I ladled pink Himalayan sea salt. That was my part. The line went salt, dehydrated vegetables, rice, then lentils into a plastic bag. Then quality control check weighing.

between 320-330 on the scale, please

Then the bag was sealed. And counted as it went into the large box. And at some number of bags that I can’t remember – a bell and celebration happened.

We worked about an hour.

Yep. About an hour to assemble 10,000 meals.

Last night I made one of the lentil casseroles. I did add some grapes and deviled eggs to the plate. But, I’m pretty happy with what the refugees will get to eat.

It was good.

Doesn't this look yummy?
Doesn’t this look yummy?

Best part?

You could get up a group and do this, too. 

Feeding Children Everywhere











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!

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.