Sunday the Pre-K, K-2nd and Venture Club (3rd-5th Grades) will be learning about the Disciples. Jesus called 12 disciples, symbolizing the 12 Tribes of Israel, to follow him and learn from his example first hand. Instead of sitting in the synagogue and reading and talking, the disciples were "in the field" learning how to be part of the synagogue outside of the synagogue. Jesus called disciples that were not typical priests or scribes, but that came from a variety of places within society. This week we'll learn who they were and how Jesus called them. In our own lives, how does Jesus call to us (or how do we feel called by the Spirit of God)? In our own lives, how do we listen for the Way of God, and how do we keep learning beyond the walls of our sanctuary and church building? Who mentors us today? Is it just pastors and teachers, or are there other significant voices and role models in our lives today?
JYF will continue reading Revelation.
MYF will continue reading Matthew (one of the four Jesus stories in our Bible).
Adults, this week is the notable chapter on "Jesus and Hell" by McLaren.
Mentoring Coordinators Kris and Ligia will give an overview of the Mentoring process to 8th grade families at 11:45am downstairs in B-21. All JYF families are invited.
Current Mentoring Pairs will be having an afternoon of board games and card games together at 11:45am as well. Bring your own lunch and bring games to share.
Sunday the Venture Club, K-2nd and Pre-K learn the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. The JYF and MYF are up at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp for their annual Snow Camp (JYF) and Winter Retreat (MYF). The 2's meet as usual :-).
It seems "wilderness" is our theme for the weekend. For the youth, it is a time to get out of our normal routines and remember that we live in our world with sky piercing mountains, and that snow impacts life, despite our best attempts to live in a way that disregards weather. It is a reminder that God is present through all of creation, not just humans, and that creation is not a "tool," but a "partner." What can learn from the wilderness today? Probably playing in the snow with friends, and drinking warm beverages around worship and games will be the primary draw. But if we take a few moments to stop and listen... and watch... and feel... we'll notice that God is bigger than we can imagine, and that life is fuller than we often remember. God be with the JYF and MYF this weekend!
For the children, 5th grade and younger, wilderness is the place where we go to be tested. It is less about fighting the "natural" surroundings, and more about isolating ourselves to wrestle directly with God and our own identity. God is not to be controlled by our desires. God is not to be tested through our whims. God is not to be neglected so we can gain the world. Instead, we are to rest in the assurance that God loves us, all the time, and that nothing compares to the Deep Divine - not even all the gold, power and people in the world! Not sure all of that will sink in for all our children in one Sunday, but I'm not quite sure it's deep enough in my soul yet either. May we keep learning lessons to live by with Jesus the rest of this Winter and Spring!
This week Peace School continues for all ages. The younger ages hear the story of "John the Baptist" while the JYF continue reading Revelation and the MYF continue reading Matthew.
MLK Weekend is another reminder of why we keep re-telling these stories and why they were written, lived and live on. John the Baptist confronted the elitism of the religious leaders in his day. Revelation confronted the powers of the empire that sought to control the weak and the different, instead of include everyone and empower everyone. The Gospel of Matthew was primarily written to Jews, encouraging them to go beyond their known world of the "Old Testament," and to embrace Jesus' understanding of the Old Testament. Jesus' understanding was not necessarily new to Jews, but he lived Judaism in such a different way than most people. Like John, Jesus was concerned with practices that freed people, empowered people, and brought people together. Too much of Judaism bound people to sacrifices, difficult legal codes, and a hierarchy that privileged the few.
No wonder that Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated today. He also understood that Christianity is not for binding people, but for bringing people together. Do we still believe this today? If so, how do we show it to our children in a way that remembers King's dream?
Just a reminder that there is no Peace School this coming Sunday, Jan. 10. Families are invited to participate in this second Church Family Meeting with our Transition Pastor Rob. Younger children can hang out in the foyer with a few activities, and JYF and MYF are invited to participate in the meeting and share their voice and perspective.
Peace School will continue January 17 for all ages!
This week the younger classes (Pre-K, K-2, VC) take a week to remember that the Bible is one connected story. The Bible Story-line goes from Creation, to Abraham and Sarah, to Moses in Egypt, to King David in Jerusalem, to Queen Esther in Persia, and back to Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem. This second part of the year we continue this story with Jesus as the Jews anticipate another 'King David' to save them from their Roman occupiers. We hear how Jesus taught the Jews to live as if God was always emperor, and the Temple was foremost for the poorest, weakest, sickest, and left out. Jesus did not come to topple Rome by force, but to transform Rome, Jerusalem and the Temple through love, hope, peace, and better relationships. Jesus tore down world-views based on power and prestige and privilege, and instead lived a world-view that seeks to bring everyone together on earth as it is in heaven.
After Jesus is executed by the fearful and jealous religious, economic and political elite, his followers witness the resurrection of his vision and preach this news to all people throughout the empire - even those who are not Jew. They preach the news that God comes to save the poor, imprisoned, hungry, sick, alone, oppressed, depressed, forgotten and enslaved. Paul champions the core of this calling by leading people to this understanding and Way of Christ, and by encouraging small groups of people anchored in meals and fellowship (not just the rituals in the Temples). It is not an easy calling for Paul, but he is willing to die for the same kingdom that he himself once persecuted by death! Similarly, John writes an epic political cartoon to give hope to the Jesus followers martyred by the Roman Empire in his Revelation.
Are we strands of this epic saga 2,000 years later? Why do we still read the writings of those who live in a land far away, in a time long ago? Is this the same God that we feel deeply connected to today? Is Jesus still relevant in our daily lives? Do Jesus, Paul and John speak to our religious, economic and political leaders and institutions today?
May this second half of the year inspire us, motivate us, confuse us, challenge us, and give us an ongoing sense of love, hope and salvation.
Events & Evites:
Tory - Pastor of Children and Youth Faith Formation.