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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.

As we prepare for our offering for Haiti at our Valentine “Heart to Heart” Family Rally, I’ve been pondering how we talk with children, and more importantly listen to them when tragedy strikes.   Not too long ago I heard a parent say to a child, who was upset about the death of another child, that “God just needed her for an angel.”

While I understand the adult’s attempt or need to soften the blow I have to ask, “What is it that makes us want to speak for or on behalf of God?”  For some reason we feel as if we need to defend God, or blame God.  We want to wrap up a tragedy and make it fit into our own construct of reality.

God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to people.  Things simply happen, or some things, so called “destiny producing deeds” are a result from our own behavior.  In short, we reap what we sow.  For example, too much CO2 in the atmosphere creates global warming, a person who has smoked for years develops lung cancer, or our consumptive lifestyle creates an imbalance of justice, not only to other people, but also to the environment.  These are the sad outcomes because of our sinful behavior.   This is something kids can understand.  “If I take a toy away from a friend, I risk a tug of war.”  “When I plant this seed a green shoot pushes through the soil.” 

Natural disasters have nothing to do with God, aside from the fact that God created the earth.    Nor does the fault lie in people.  Tectonic plates shift, and a whole city and her people are smothered and crushed in the dust. No one is to blame, even if insurance companies want to call it an “act of God.”

 Scripture does tell us that God hates with a perfect hatred. God’s heart breaks when our hearts break.   God hates cancer, earthquakes, murder, famine and malaria, most anything that robs all of us of the abundant life.  So what does God do?  God redeems terrible times and brings good out of them.  God stays very close by our sides, and walks with us through our bewilderment and agony.  As scripture promises, God greets us every morning, offering us new mercy, after our “dark nights of the soul” when “our tears have been our food, day and night.” 

Jenny and Hal Runkel of ScreamFree Parenting.com have two excellent articles on how we might respond to our children during a catastrophe.  These are written both out of their expertise and more importantly, their personal experience.  With ScreamFree organization’s permission, I have included them here on our website. 

Suffice it to say, we can say to our children and teens, “I don’t know,” [why this tragedy occurred].   Also we might invite our children to share what they are wondering, by asking, “Tell me more about your thoughts on that…”  Or perhaps, if they are having very strong feelings  in terms of justice, or with regard to their own fear and security, we can simply ask, “how are you feeling about this?”  And it is always important to wonder out loud with our children, and share with them how we feel too, “I have lots of unanswered questions, and my heart breaks when I see and hear the cries of the Haitian people.”

What I do know and believe is that God is with us, beside us, there to catch us when we fall, and there to meet us as a friend, when we depart from this world.”

See you this Sunday at the Heart to Heart Family Rally on Valentines Day! (For more information about this fun event, visit our event page on Facebook! You can also view this informative summary page.)

LOVEFEAST!!!

Rev. Lisa Mullen
Director of Children and Family Ministries
Board of Christian Education

 Read the ScreamFree Parenting articles here…
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I heard the first Christmas carol on November l4.  I remember being 1) confused and startled – Is that “Silent Night”?  Why in the world is “Silent Night” playing on the radio? – then 2) resentful – What in the world are they thinking?!  It’s only November l4th! – and then resigned; after all, hadn’t the stores already been decorated for Christmas for two weeks?  Why should I be surprised by a little premature carol-playing?

     As they say, Christmas comes earlier every year.  I confess, I’ve grown weary of the whole event.  By that, I don’t just mean the rampant consumerism, the endless messages that suggest that we adults must give, give, give to prove our love and devotion, and the endless messages pumped out to our children that their job is to ask, ask, ask for more.  (The number of items on my youngest son’s Christmas list is fast approaching thirty.)  I’ve grown weary as well of the anti-consumerism messages.  The simplicity messages.  The “real meaning” of Christmas messages that have become so clichéd as to be meaningless themselves.

     By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that this article is supposed to be about … simplicity at Christmas.   Yet, whenever I think about Christmas, what comes to mind is a big to-do list – and backgrounding that list is an inventory that plays in my mind regardless of the season: 5 graduate school classes, 2 jobs, 2 small children, 2 aging parents – and somewhere in there is my poor spouse.   There is no way to simplify this formula, especially at Christmas.

     We like to reduce the advent and nativity story to a tale of sentimental simplicity.  But was it?  Think about Mary: according to Luke, twice in her pregnancy she made two long and arduous and perhaps dangerous journeys, first to see her kinswoman Elizabeth, and then to Bethlehem, with Joseph.  She was pregnant and young and unmarried.  She had been told that she was going to bear the son of God, of all things.  None of this could have been “simple.”  But what I love about Mary is that, despite what must have been overwhelming and frightening and terribly uncertain circumstances – she showed up.  She believed.  But she didn’t believe unthinkingly – she pondered these things in her heart.

     I cannot bring simplicity into my world, for as is true for most of us, it is a busy, complex, often overwhelming and uncertain and sometimes frightening place. I can’t make Christmas “simple.”  But I can show up.  I can believe the Good News.  I can ponder in my heart the love I have for my family  – and for a baby boy whose coming into the world changed everything, forever.  I can know the joy I receive from this is real, as my life – as all our lives – spiral toward return and completion in the Messiah.      

Karen Richardson Dunn writes for Morvian Roots and Wings,  even though she is a a wife and mother,  a full-time student at Wake Forest Divinity School, and serves at Fairview Moravian Church as a worship intern.



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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