Family Ministries Update: March 2017

Laura Updyke is the interim director of family ministries – you can contact Laura here

Sunday School

If you see one of our Sunday School teachers, please take a minute to say thanks for the great job they’ve been doing this year! We are especially grateful to Haifleigh Pritchard, who is giving her time every Sunday to work with our 3rd-5th graders, helping them manage the crucial shift from Sunday School to confirmation preparation.

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Table Talk: Week of March 12, 2017

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story. Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion. Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development. What a gift to provide a child. Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

God Calls

This week Sunday School focused on the reading from Genesis, God calling Abraham. Our 3rd-5th graders encountered it for the first time, while our younger children had read this story earlier and revisited it.

The focus this week was on God’s directions to Abraham. God chose Abraham and Sarah to start his family. God’s call to Abraham directed him to leave his home, and everything familiar, and travel to a new land, with no assurance other than God’s word that all would be well. Abraham followed God’s directions, even though it wasn’t easy for him to do this. He trusted in God and his love for them.

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Table Talk: Week of February 19, 2017

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story.  Please read the summaries, look up the story online,  in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion.  Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development.  What a gift to provide a child!  Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

Following God’s Laws

All of our children read about the laws that God gave Moses to share with his people. The central laws, the Ten Commandments, are still the basic rules Christians are expected to follow in their interactions with God and all people.

God did not say that these would be easy rules to follow, he knew that they would be hard, but he challenged his people to act always through love and to show that love through their actions.

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Table Talk: Week of February 5, 2017

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story.  Please read the summaries, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion.  Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development.  What a gift to provide a child!  Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

Teaching God’s Word

The Gospel of Matthew formed the basis of our 3rd-5th graders lesson this week. Jesus calls on us all to be the Salt and the Light and to show others the power of God’s Word through our actions. The church was just beginning and followers were often in hiding to avoid persecution. Matthew is calling on the members of the church not to hide their beliefs, but to be a beacon of light and help to lead others to God’s teachings and the Salt that prevents the world from going bad.

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Table Talk: Week of January 15, 2017

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story.  Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible,  and begin the discussion.  Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development.  What a gift to provide a child.  Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

God Is Faithful

Our 3rd-5th graders engaged the text of the Epistle, Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which Paul tells of God’s faithfulness, and explored what it means to be called to be God’s people. God’s faithfulness is what ensures that we will be able to grow in his love and what strengthens us and prepares us to be full members of his church. Paul notes that God has enriched his people in speech and knowledge to prepare them for their role and that the testimony of Christ is strengthened among them. They have been given all of the gifts they need to help spread his word and act in accordance with his teachings.

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Table Talk: Week of January 8, 2017

For the next few weeks, we will be experimenting with our Sunday School organization. Godly Play will encompass 1st-5th grade. Godly Play is designed to be used for all age levels and we have wanted to expand the experience. This desire, combined with the struggle to recruit teachers for this oldest group, persuaded us to try something new. In the lead up to Lent, we will see how having the groups together works and then evaluate how to proceed from there. We’d love to hear feedback from parents and children as the process unfolds.

Holy Baptism

The First Sunday after Epiphany is also known as the Baptism of our Lord. Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into the Church.

We baptize people in the name of the Father…the Son…and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we call the Father the Creator. We call the Son the Redeemer. We call the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. People are baptized at all ages, from babies through the very old. We ask the person about to be baptized questions, or the parents or godparents if they are babies. We say prayers for them.

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Table Talk: Week of December 18, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

We have lit three candles ─ for hope, for peace, and for joy. Today we add the fourth candle ─ the candle of love. With this flame we signify the love of God that surrounds and fills us at all times, but that we recognize in a special way in the Christmas story. There is no greater power than love. It is stronger than rulers and empires, stronger than grief or despair, stronger even than death. We love, because he loves us.

(All four candles are lit.)

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Table Talk: Week of December 11, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Reading

We have lit the first two candles, one for hope and one for peace. Today we add the third candle, the candle of joy. We see joy all around us – in the children, the lights, the music, that gathering together. But how often do we let our preparations or our memories push joy aside? Joy is like an underground spring that wells up within us, but joy requires intention, deliberate cultivation. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised. So today we open ourselves to joy, trusting that God has already planted it in us. So we give it care and offer it to share.

(The first, second and third candles are lit.)

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Update on Family Ministries

Sunday School

Thanks again to all of the parishioners who have stepped up to teach this year. We are very grateful and there has been a smooth transition as our new teachers have taken over.

As we head into the Advent season, the Sunday School students will be preparing to welcome Jesus into the world. On the first Sunday of Advent, everyone will be making Advent wreaths to bring home and use. Our Table Talks will include the readings done in church and also in Sunday School, and each week as we light the candles there will be questions that you can use at home to discuss the meaning of the candles and how we can prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord.

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Table Talk: Week of November 27, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

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Table Talk: Week of November 13, 2016

 PreK-K and 3rd-5th

In the reading this week, Paul tells his followers: “Dear friends, you must never become tired of doing right.” –2 Thessalonians 3:13, CEV

The letter to the Thessalonians calls disciples of all ages to work together as the church. We know what God wants us to do and how we should act towards others, but it can be hard to do the right thing. Paul is reminding his followers that they must be willing to work together to help others, no matter how hard it is or how tired they become.

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Table Talk: Week of November 6, 2016

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story.  Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion.  Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development.  What a gift to provide a child.  Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories. 

Yesterday, we welcomed two new members into the church through Baptism. In Sunday School, your children talked about baptism and its role in marking us a members of the church. Baptism symbolizes our entrance into God’s family, the Communion of Saints, just as their names, given by their parents, symbolize their entrance into your families.

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Table Talk: Week of October 30, 2016

Jesus and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

In this week’s Gospel, we again saw Jesus meet with a person who has made choices that had not pleased God.  Jesus’ friends grumble when Jesus chooses to spend time with him.  Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector, a group that the people of the time really disliked because many were dishonest. When Jesus enters Jericho, Zacchaeus climbs a tree to be able to see him. Jesus calls to Zacchaeus and tells him that Jesus will be his guest today and Zacchaeus promises to give away half of his possessions and change his ways. Jesus promises Zacchaeus that God has a place for him in heaven.  Those with Jesus, however, don’t understand why he is giving such attention to a “sinner”. Jesus reminds them he has come, not to reward those already following God’s teachings, but to seek out and save the lost.

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Table Talk: Week of October 23rd

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story.  Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your Bible, or a children’s Bible, and begin the discussion.  Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development.  What a gift to provide a child.  Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

This week’s lessons reminded us that none of us are without failing and that we are all dependent on God’s mercy and forgiveness. We are also blessed, however, because we know that God’s mercy will always be there for us, when we are ready to seek it out.

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A Stewardship Message from Fr Ben

Do you choose easy or do you choose adventure?

I asked this question on my first Sunday at Saint James’ four years ago this winter. I talked about asking my daughter that question half way through a rather rigorous hike, I encouraged you to consider all the ways that Jesus asked his followers that same question, and whether God might be asking the people of Saint James’ Episcopal Church the same question.

Years later I am ever more convinced both of God’s call to us and our resounding answer, “ADVENTURE!!!”. Here is the rub. Adventure is not easy. Jesus certainly never said it would be.

One of my favorite prayers, attributed to 16th century explorer, Sir Francis Drake, asks the same question of us. Have we arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore… (have we) fallen in love with life and ceased to dream of eternity?

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Table Talk: Week of September 25, 2016

PK-K and 3rd-5th Grade

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus from today’s Gospel is one of the many times Jesus spoke to his followers about what God wants from us.

Lazarus, a poor man, begs outside the gates of a rich man, who does not help him. When Lazarus and the rich man both die, Lazarus, who suffered on earth, is found by Abraham’s side in Heaven, while the rich man, who thought only of himself, is found in hell.

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Table Talk: Week of September 18, 2016

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager is one of the more challenging lessons Jesus shared with his followers. The manager, caught cheating by the rich man who employed him, is fired. Uncertain of his future, the manager comes up with a plan to help others, reaching out to all who owe the rich man money and changing the amounts so they can pay less, in hopes that they will remember and help him later. He then goes back to the rich man and tells him what he has done, earning his former employer’s praise.

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Table Talk: Week of September 11, 2016

In Sunday’s reading, the children heard the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. When the Pharisees questioned the time Jesus was spending with sinners and tax collectors, he used these parables, or teaching stories, to help them understand why he sought out those he considered lost. In the first, a shepherd hunts far and wide for a lost sheep, although he has 99 others, rejoicing when he finds it and celebrating with his neighbors. In the second, a woman with 10 silver coins loses one and hunts for it throughout her house. Again, rejoicing when it is found and celebrating with those around her.

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