Okay . . .  I am opening with a disclaimer!  Please understand, I am all for supporting the economy and I do not envy what it takes to keep a business afloat in these tough times. However, I invite you and your family to join me in asking a tough question about the society in which we live. How can we “keep Christmas” in such a way that honors the Way of Christ?

Yesterday our town shared our annual Christmas parade. Each year High School bands and beautiful floats have been crowded off Main Street by businesses using this opportunity to parade their wares.  This year a shiny fleet of cars from a local dealer glided by, complete with their own beauty queen. I kid you not!  The person standing next to me caught my rolling eyes and said, “Can you believe this?  There oughtta be a law against this kind of advertising! We always had great marching bands when we were young.”

Lately, I have been listening to words used in advertising and there is a new precedent.  The marketers have simply re-drawn the lines.  We can all now get a head start on Black Friday shopping:

“60% off One Item – Black Friday Starts Early!”

“Door busters? Why bust down the door, when you can shop early, (i.e. Thanksgiving Day)?”

So we won’t all be pulling a chair up to the table if we are working or shopping will we?   When we will give our consumption a rest?   Betsy Taylor founder and president of the New American Dream gets some insightful answers from children when she asked them, “what do you want they money can’t buy?”:

Money Can’t Buy . . .

“Rain.”

“A mud puddle to jump in.”

“the animals to be safe.”

“a clean park.”

“Friends, Fun, Good Times.”

“a smile.”

“… no more shootings and killings, just peace.”

“A Warm Sunny Day.”

“Money Can’t Buy ME”

Another kind of parade band, the funeral band, followed by the congregation, just walked by my office in Old Salem.  What a contrast!  But interestingly, the music was still bright. And the Christ’s offer of abundant life, of light in our darkness is a love that is matchless.   So as you gather around the table during Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas you might pose this same question.  To the question, ‘What do you want that money can’t buy  Elisa, aged 14, answers: “I want peace, a quietness for my soul.  An ease for my thoughts and a rest for my heart . . . I want faith.  To possess the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.”   Good tidings to you and your dear ones!

-The Rev. Lisa Mullen is the Director of Children and Family Ministries, Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province.

In her very helpful book Sharing the Easter Faith with Children; Carolyn Brown shares a parent’s quandary, “I can manage Christmas, shepherds, wise men, a baby born in a barn?  No problem.  But, I do not know what to tell my child about crucifixion and resurrection at Easter.  I hardly know what to tell myself about it.” 

It’s true.  Maybe you can recall moments of deeper understanding of Jesus suffering and resurrection throughout your life.  It isn’t something we simply get…rather, I glimpse the deeper truth of who Jesus was and why he was tortured and murdered.   The disciples didn’t understand, Peter surely didn’t get it and even Jesus asked, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So how do we share the depth, sorrow and joy of Jesus, life, suffering, death and resurrection?  You, who are teachers, parents and grandparents, know that you are always looking for new entry points into the life of Jesus.   Here are a few thoughts that I find helpful and if you have more you would like to add please give us your ideas on the Moravian Roots and Wings Facebook page:

  • Worship together throughout the whole church year.  Include your children in worship.  As they “overhear” the gospel they will grow in to a deeper friendship with Christ and will gain a richer understanding of his life.   Through the scripture story, song and prayer children they will pick up much of the “hidden curriculum,” even when you think they are not listening.  
  • Keep Lent.   Just as you do with Advent in the season of Advent leading to Christmas, (which is only about half of the time of Lent), Lent has a clear beginning, Ash Wednesday and a clear ending Palm Sunday.  These forty days in the wilderness, mark a slower season where we can grow spiritually as we journey to Jerusalem with Jesus.    Many Christians “give up something for Lent.”  One teenager decided to “give up” television, in order to “make space and time” for something more important. 
  • I invite you to try some new “entry points” if you haven’t before.  Try reading the Bible daily as a family.  Join together in some family rituals we suggest in Loving Hearts United, your Moravian family resource.   Pray as a family about where God is calling you to give.  For instance, is someone or some country heavy on your child’s heart?  Empower your children, (and yourselves!)  to give of yourselves by collecting a daily offering for the people who are devastated and living in their own wilderness. 
  • Try some new rituals, like “burying the alleluias,” or creating a Lenten box in which to keep a promise.  A young person in my congregation decided he wanted to feel what it is like to be a refugee in the wilderness, and to not have a place to lay his head.  So he made his Lenten promise to sleep on the floor for forty nights.  What a powerful learning for all of us!

You’ll find a helpful article from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., entitled “Talking with Children about Lent and Easter,” by Beth Herrintin-Hodge, on the Heartfelt web page. Here’s a longer version of the article as a PDF file.

I would also recommend three wonderful books, from our resource center to you.  They will help you look at entry points into Lent, Holy Week and Easter from a childhood developmental approach:     

For Parents, Educators and Pastors: 

Sharing the Easter Faith with Children, Helping Children Observe Lent and Celebrate Easter, by Carolyn C Brown, Abingdon Press:   Nashville, TN, 2005

For FamiliesLoving Hearts United, A Moravian Guide for Family Living, Interprovincial Board of Communication:  Bethlehem, PA, 2009

For Children’s Spiritual Formation Groups:

The Way of the Child, Helping Children Experience God, by Wynn McGregor, Upper Room Books: Nashville, TN, 2006

-The Rev. Lisa Mullen is the Director of Children and Family Ministries, Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province.

There are many different kinds of prayers.  One is intercession, where we ask God for help on behalf of others.  Another is adoration or praise where we simply adore our crucified and risen Savior.  Thanksgiving, confession and prayers of petition are also forms of our response to God.  We all pray prayers of petition or “asking  prayers,” under our breath, when we are burdened by pain or grief or when we are “knocking on the door”  with the hope that our Lord will answer the door, that is answer our  heartfelt or anxious prayers.  I have often wondered about the close connection to petition and nagging.  

With children they call it the “nag factor.” You know… when children won’t take “No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No!” for an answer?  Fact is, our marketing culture intentionally schools our children in the art of asking.  Advertisers, in order to sell the product, will associate or “bond” their wares with the identity and soul of our child or teen.  Media critic Douglas Rushkoff speaks of the invasive, sustained, coercive strategies advertisers use.  He notes that the use of brain science to sell to kids is called “neuromarketing.” Marketers do not even attempt to hide their strategies.  Perhaps you have heard them from the den, talking—directly–to your children . . .  inviting your children to share this great idea (of something they “need) with mom or dad!  Barbara A. Martino, advertising executive, shares her company’s strategy: “We’re relying on the kid to pester the mom to buy the product, rather than going straight to the mom.” 

One way we can guard our children is to learn more about the strategies advertisers use with our kids.  Listen to Betsy Taylor, executive director of the Center for a New American Dream. She says, “Parents and their kids are behind the eight ball.  As a result of unprecedented levels of advertising and marketing aimed at kids, our children feel intense pressure to try to bolster their sense of self-esteem at the mall, and they will go to incredible lengths to get their parents to give in.”

There are a lot of ways to respond within our faith community, not the least of which has everything to do with helping our children and ourselves  embrace our baptismal identity and so remember  whose we are and to whom we belong.

Of course, there is another very powerful antidote to this consuming society in which we live.  Remember reading labels on household cleaning products when your children were very young?  Activated charcoal, we are told, is what we need to have on hand, just in case our toddler gets hold of something toxic and swallows it in the thirty seconds we turn our backs.  Activated charcoal bonds with the toxic chemical and limits its absorption into our bloodstream. 

That antidote to our greedy, self-centered, consuming culture is simply. . . gratitude.  According to Henri Nouwen, “thanksgiving is one of the most important celebrations of our lives, because without it almost everything loses its orbit.”  We do not need to exchange expensive gifts, we need only be thankful. 

May you enjoy and give thanks for all that is precious in your life, for all whom you treasure this Thanksgiving!

-The Rev. Lisa Mullen is the Director of Children and Family Ministries, Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province.

Glad Tidings!

As parents, remembering that our children are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20: 28: I Peter 1:9, we will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) and take all possible care to preserve them from every evil influence.  For this reason we will seek to approve ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, setting an example for our children.  We will give faithful attention to the spiritual development of our children, both in the home and in the church.  We will endeavor to conduct regular family devotions.”  –Moravian Covenant for Christian Living, Section lll. B

Whew!  Camp is over, the kids are off to school and we all are off and running!  I do want to take a moment to thank all of you who were volunteers, oops. . . that is, disciples this summer with the children.  Our camps were wonderful and we shared many beautiful moments of kindled spirits and new growth with the kids.   The kids were so genuine and kind and many of us adults remarked about how spiritually gifted the children were.  And that is in a word, Gospel, dear sisters and brothers!

I want to take a moment to remind you about our resource for families, Loving Hearts United.  We are still excited that God worked through so many people to pull this off.   It is uniquely Moravian and we are grateful for all the designers, writers, parent and grandparent photographers and singers who so cheerfully shared their gifts. 

Liz Venable, Ruth Cole Burcaw, and I will be working on a short resource to use with families, so that they can explore ways as to how they might use it.  Starting is half the battle!  We really want to help people open up and make time to live into as a way of life.  Christ always calls us into a deeper relationship with one another and with our Good Shepherd.   This is vital because many families are so busy and scattered that they will need a hand-up to try to be very intentional:  

As pastors and educators, here are some ways some of our churches already have used this resource:  

1.       Give the book to parents when their children are baptized.

2.       If you give the gift of the Daily Texts or promote it, add Loving Hearts United to your gift or promotion.

3.      Give this resource to children in the moment with the children and tell the children about it.  Interestingly enough, they will love the rituals and will help parents stay intentional. 

4.      Invite me or any of the writers to come and share this with your parents.  Some churches plan a lunch after church, get a caregiver to be with the children, some have hosted Wednesday nights, one had a two-part series on parenting and served lunch and involved the children.   One little boy was very excited about the Daily Texts and asked if he might have one for his family too!

5.      Announce it verbally from the pulpit and use a bulletin insert, which we will be sending you.  You may want to tailor the insert or newsletter piece to suit how you are planning to share this gift. 

6.      Some people believe that a book means more if the parents are pay for it themselves.  It is available for sale in the resource center.  The cost is 19.95 plus tax and it includes the CD.  It is also a companion piece with the Daily Texts. Call 336-722-8026 for more information or to order.

7.      Request someone to lead the parents (grandparents and guardians) through the short resource to help them get started.  Or invite someone in your church to lead it.  We will provide a “teacher-friendly” resource for you, (which will be available in November).

This is a stand alone piece which means that families can pick it up and use it any time of the year.  Here are some examples: 

At a special event in the life of a family or church: 

They may start living into it at a special event such as the baptism of their child, the confirmation of their child or teen ager, (it is never too late!), the day Bibles are given out, a child’s birthday or when a new family joins the church, on the anniversary of a child’s adoption ( fondly called, gotcha day).

At a special season in the life of the church:

You could promote the resource or give the resource before Advent since this is the beginning of the church year, at Christmas,  since Jesus was born into a family, in the new year, when the new Daily Texts are given or sold, during Lent since this is a special time of devotion or on Easter, (of course!).   One teenager asked for the Daily Texts for a Christmas present.  Then again, you could simply give it to your own family for Christmas. 

If your church has any ideas of how you have invited families or shared Loving Hearts United , lease send us you good news.  We always welcome glad tidings!

Faithfully yours,

Rev. Lisa Mullen, Director of Children and Family Ministry

What will capture the heart and mind of a child?  Upon what values will children make decisions?  Such questions are foundational for any “organization” that wants a child to be “hooked”, always “buying into” what they offer and even sell, “getting and having them for life”. 

Lisa Mullen in her article Giving – Who’s Minding the Children hits these questions head on and notes that it has long been the goal of many businesses to “own this kid younger and younger and younger.” That is a frightening thought, even a basic goal of “Kids ‘R’ Us”, such to (hopefully) ensure a dedicated relationship for a lifetime that will lead to profit, but at what cost?  

Rodger Nishioka notes the same in his article Stewardship with Generation Next, going beyond the store in the mall to the ways that young people connect with one another and the world…predominantly technology-driven.  This makes it even tougher to connect with young people who have ears and eyes (constantly) tuned in is their general distrust of the institution…any institution, especially those that ask for money.

Rhonda Pittman Gingrich in Teaching Mindful Giving takes the concern one step further as she clearly defines the importance of helping young people make “values-based decisions”, especially related to spending habits.  She challenges the “church” to take the lead, recognizing that the church has “wonderful faith development opportunities”. 

So, what does the Church do?  In reading these excellent articles, each published in the most recent issue of Giving…Growing Joyful Stewards in Our Congregation, I am reminded that the challenge is real, yet also a challenge the Church can face with confidence.  In each I note the importance of relationship, the “personal connection”.  The Church can help children pull away from the many aspects of life that want to “own” them.  This happens best when trusted people of mature faith spend time with children…“baking cookies” together, “painting a fence” together, and “talking” together.  Such will do and help lead to all that is needed. 

     The truth is,  we need to (again) realize that what children want is not “stuff”, at least not primarily.  What they want is excellent relationship.  It takes time, but even more so it takes doing what we know will serve best as we help all children see themselves, each, as a child of God.  In that realization is the “stuff” they really long for, and such is found best through Christ and the Church.             

-Gary Marsh
Gary Marsh is the Director of Stewardship for the Moravian Church, Northern Province

Just as the taco meat was beginning to simmer, I received a knock on the door.  When I opened the front door I knew immediately who the two young men were representing in their dark suits and white button down shirts.  I did not have to read their clearly marked nametags to know the reason for their visit.  I figured I had 10 minutes before dinner was ready so I did not have to be rude or cut them off at the pass like I might have done if we were getting ready to sit down at the dinner table.  Also, my 8-year old daughter, EmmaGrace, was right there beside me watching and listening to see what I might do. 

I clearly told these two young men that I was a Christian, that we attended church regularly, and I even worked for the Moravian Church.  They had a few questions and asked about raising a child in the faith.  I shared with them my answers and told them that most recently I was passionate about faith formation in families and any issues with children and reconnecting them with nature and God’s wonderful creation.  At that moment EmmaGrace ran back into the house and grabbed a bracelet we recently made that represents the seven days of creation.  EmmaGrace was charming as she explained what each bead represented in that bracelet.  The young men were so kind and patient listening to her retell the story of creation through that beaded bracelet.  Together, we agreed that God created a great big world with all kinds of people and we need to share His love with one another.

-Heather Stevenson 

From Lisa Mullen: 

I love this remarkable story about our little friend and sister in the faith EmmaGrace.   With exuberance she runs to find one of her treasures to share with the Mormon evangelists!  This must be the kind of openness that Jesus spoke of when he talked to us (adults) who might only enter into the reign of God as little children. 

In her own childlike wisdom EmmaGrace meets her guests right where they are and shares a part of herself that testifies to the deepness and wideness of God’s whole created order, including Mormons and Moravians, (who are not to be confused with one another).  Sometimes, we underestimate the spiritual gifts of children who enjoy and share a wondrous and rich spiritual life.   EmmaGrace shares her joy directly, openly and freely.  Listen to Wynn McGregor in her spiritual formation curriculum, the Way of the Child,   as she speaks of children’s “innate connection to God:”

All children come from God and God’s spirit is breathed into them at birth.  As human beings, they are created in the divine image for relationship with God.  They have that gift from God to all humans—transcendence, the desire and the capacity to reach beyond their own limits because their imaginations are so rich and fertile, they do not have to know all the answers. They are comfortable living in the “in between.”  They fathom much more than they can articulate. Our culture puts an inordinate emphasis on reasoning and knowing “the truth.”

Our faith is always deepened by the faith of children, our younger sisters and brothers, if we open our eyes and ears to the gifts they bring to us all. 

-EmmaGrace is a second grader at Clemmons Elementary School who loves this great big world filled with God’s wonderful creation.  Heather Stevenson is the mom who loves this curious little girl.  Lisa Mullen, Director of Children and Family Ministries for the Board of Christian Education is EmmaGrace’s friend who shares beautiful flowers with her.

Annual church seasons serve as regular reminders of certain aspects of Christianity. Reminders are beneficial, but it seems that the 40-day Lenten practice is incomplete to many in our modern world. Interestingly, a relatively new understanding of the number forty in biblical context suggests that the number represents “a very long time.” But suddenly, in Lent we regress to the literal interpretation of the 40-day length. Instead, we should extend our enriched faith beyond Easter Sunday. Perhaps it is our comfortable lifestyles that tend to prevent us from doing this. Maybe it is the speed at which we fly through seasons, checking off holidays in our planners as they pass. The Church calendar is beautifully cyclical, but as we move through cycles more quickly we seem to be missing the point, as if we were spinning faster and faster on a carousel. The faster we move, the less focus we can place on each season.

Why do we give things up? Why fast? In order to begin to appreciate the gift of abundant life given to us through Christ’s suffering death and resurrection, we practice empathy. We try to inhabit the mind of Christ. We sacrifice, but in sacrificing we should build ourselves up. In living more simply, we live more. We should fast from those things that consume us: that control too much of our time, souls, and bodies. By this cleansing we make room for something that allows us to understand Christ and subsequently deepen our way of life. The word Lent originally meant “spring”. Think of Lent as Spring Cleaning. Also, fasting is personal. We all have our own set of things that consume us, be they pleasures or burdens. Choosing from pleasures may not be enough when considering what we should “give up”. Do not sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake. Let go of something. This will give you empathy for Christ that eventually brings you closer to friendship with God. Zihna Edwards cautions that, “People who equate Lenten sacrifice with a New Year’s resolution are missing the richness of the possibility. We have before us a preparation for Life… and an invitation to die to the things that keep us dead in a little further way. We could make this out to be about chocolate. Or we could ask God what things are getting in our way.” Hopefully by disassembling our lives temporarily we can reconstruct them to a more balanced form. Furthermore, we should consider how others are affected by what eats at us. St. John Chrysostom of the fifth century questioned, “For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?”.  

There is nothing wrong with “giving up” Facebook, chocolate, television, or meat. But Lent is more. Giving up is the first step. Filling that void with a healthier practice, such as prayer or silence, is the second. This is a time of reflection that is sadly trivialized by many. Often it seems that many set a goal to endure six weeks of sacrifice, which becomes a fruitless ritual. We risk becoming more self-absorbed in our attempts at self-denial. Sometimes our motives for fasting during Lent are self-serving. Our intentions are not usually wrong, but we quickly revert to our pre-Lent selves. Lent is a forty-day period to sit down and think—to consider our own lives, God’s incarnate suffering for us, and how the two line up. In a wider context, the liturgical year extends beyond our 365-day symbolic cycle to encompass all of time. So when we mess up, when we are confused—any time of the year can be the humbling days of Lent, and any time the bright rebirth of Easter. It is never too late to begin!

 16When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 16-18)

Anna Mullen is a Junior at Salem Academy where she sometimes writes for Salem’s community paper, Grassroots. 

How refreshing it is to see so many wonderful resources to help families grow together in a faith journey!  Our own Moravian publication Loving Hearts United is a perfect example and has been recommended several places.  Some of our churches are deciding to give this piece to new members or to families on the birth of a child. 

If you are looking for a companion piece to go with this resource, I would like to encourage congregations to consider using Splash!a faith formation resource for children from birth to age three, created in the  format of newsletters that are mailed monthly to families with children.  When we stand in our churches and affirm baptismal vows when a child is baptized to help that family and nurture them in the raising of their child, it is a serious commitment.  What better way could a church do this than by using the Splash! newsletters to encourage and help these parents?

Splash! connects the church to the families through support and encouragement, in ways that compliment Loving Hearts United.  It provides fun and easy ideas for bringing faith home to these families.  In the church, our time is also God’s time, and God’s intention for creation is that we delight in the glory of God and live in relationship with one another.  Children are our best teachers of the holiness of time. 

I challenge each congregation to find someone in your congregation to take this on as a time commitment to keep track of new arrivals and to mail monthly newletters to families for the first three years of their arrival.  What a blessing it will be not only for the families but for those making a difference in someone’s faith journey.  These two resources can be obtained through the Resource Center at the Board of Christian Education.

-Beth Hayes is the Director of the Resource Center for the Board of Christian Education, Southern Province. You may reach her for more information about Splash! and Loving Hearts United at 336-722-8126.

The problem in parenting is that the life that you have given is now not yours to live,
While the one who will live it knows not yet the gift it is.

Your child,
In whom so much of you is
Your heart, soul, strength, mind, and DNA
Is not yours. 
It is a risky feeling.  It is a tender thought. 
You know the pain he will feel.  You know the danger she knows not. 
Yet despite yourself,
Despite your need to govern her danger, manage his risk, and police their loss,
You believe that life is so worth living and gifts are so worth giving
That God would give Godself, God’s son, on a cross.
It is a risky feeling.  It is a tender thought.
Although life is freely lived, it is most costly bought.

May you give of hope in living, a risk you take with God
The source of all good giving, the hope of all that’s bought!

Steven Fuller is Chase’s husband, the Director of Christian Education at Clemmons Moravian Church, and an ordained Baptist minister.  He received his Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Last year a smiling teenager said to me, “Guess what I am fasting from for Lent?” I hazarded a few guesses.  “Nope . . . T.V.!” she proclaimed proudly. “No T.V. for forty days and forty nights!”  Her excitement about a new way of journeying towards Easter made me think more about how we, as families, might pull away from something that dulls our minds or hardens our hearts, so that we might engage in some new and life-giving spiritual disciplines.  Instead of turning away from each other to a machine, we might want to turn toward each other and God.

And, I thought, why not?  Give up something, in order that you might free up some space in our lives to try something new.  And what if in forty days and nights we may have acquired a good habit?  The Scriptures have given us some clues as to what those habits of faith might look like:

 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…all who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods an distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.” –Acts 2:42

Here are some ideas for Lent.  You might want to try one or two:
*For more ideas see the Lenten appendix in our new resource book, Loving Hearts United, A Moravian Guide for Family Living.

  • Eat one meal a day together, and take turns talking about your day. 
  • Bless your children and one another, each morning and before bed each evening.  Place your hand on his or her head and say a special blessing. This “meaningful touch” gives us solace and strength for our day and rest for our slumber.
  • Create a special family meal once a week that is sacred, uninterrupted time. Light a candle and share in devotions.  Your children will naturally want to find ways to make it special, by preparing the table or by leading a conversation.
  • Sing together the hymns of our Moravian tradition. 
  • Acts of Compassion:  Give yourselves to intentional service, by finding some ways as a family to engage in acts of compassion for a hurting world.  Our children and their friends in the neighborhood and at school decided they to raise money for tents for the children and their families in Sudan.  We parents got so involved in their mission. They made tie-dye tee shirts, beautiful blessing bowls, decoupage Christmas ornaments, votive candles and plates, which they sold at a neighborhood arts in the park.   We were so surprised when they raised $815.00, enough for 11 tents!  Young children and older elementary kids have a true hearts for mission.
  • Repentance and healing within your family—Lent is a season of repentance and confession.  It’s never too late to welcome God’s healing presence in a relationship.  Children sometimes need to hear from their parents that we are sorry. Lent is a good time to search our souls in terms of what lies hidden, broken and unspoken that needs to be held up to the light and grace of Christ.
  • Pray with your children. J. Bradley Wigger writes: “Prayers of praise and prayers of thanksgiving teach gratitude. Prayers of concern teach about care and sources of strength in hard times.  Prayers in hushed tones or silence teach reverence and respect; exuberant prayer teaches passion and joy.  As children themselves pray, not only are they practicing these things, but also they can reveal what may be going on in their souls.  A child may be afraid to start school, need protection from a bully, be so thankful for Grandma, or hope people who are hungry will find some bread today.  Hearing the prayers of our children teaches us about them, helps us pay attention, helps us know how they are doing. . . When a child sees a father bow his head or a mother raise her hands in praise, the child is learning to see that there is an authority greater than the parent.”  
  • At the end of the day share in a family examen (another word for examining your day).  The Linn family shared their experience of how this simple spiritual practice was so life- giving for them: “For many years , we have ended each day the same way.  We light a candle, become aware of God’s loving presence, and take about five minutes of quiet while we ask ourselves two questions. Pick ones that work best for your family. 

For what moment today am I most grateful?  For what moment today am I least grateful?    
When did I feel most alive today?  When was I happiest today? 
When did I feel the life draining out of me?  When was I saddest today?”

Moravian hymns provide rich questions for the examen: 
How did Jesus make my heart rejoice today? How did I know Jesus’ voice today?

None of us can underestimate the power any religious practice may hold for our children. It’s like giving them a trellis upon which to grow towards the Light.  May God hallow your season of Lent and Easter.

Grace and peace to you and your dear ones,

Rev. Lisa Mullen,
Director of Children and Family Life



Recognizing the home as a community of faith, Roots & Wings provides avenues for families to discover and develop their spiritual roots and wings in today’s world. Roots & Wings celebrates and enriches family connectedness within the Moravian Church community.

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