Dear parent, February 22, 2017
Today in Way of the Child, we began a series of sessions that focus on Lent, including Ash Wednesday. We discussed Ash Wednesday and the meaning of making the sign of the cross on the forehead with ashes. Attending a worship service on Ash Wednesday can be meaningful for your child and you. Our Ash Wednesday Services are at Noon and 7:00 PM in the sanctuary on March 1st. Children are welcome at all services. Please consider attending an Ash Wednesday service with your child.
We explained Lent, the forty-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, as a time to remember Jesus, reflect on what Jesus means in our lives and repent (express sorrow and change our ways) for not living as Jesus taught. For the remainder of Lent, we will focus on Jesus’ time in the wilderness, including his fasting, praying and being tempted. We will also center on the forgiveness God offers when we do wrong and truly say we are sorry.
During this season, the leaders and children will make a Lenten promise – to do something loving, or to give up something we really like, in order to help us remember Jesus. We encourage you to talk and pray with your child about taking on this spiritual practice for Lent.
We have asked each child to write down his or her Lenten promise and bring it to our next session. Keeping a promise to do something for forty days is a big commitment. In each session, we will support your child in keeping his or her Lenten promise. Family support also helps. You can offer your support by joining your child in his or her promise, helping your child identify acts of mercy or charity, and by asking and talking about the promise on a regular basis.
Here are some ideas for Lenten promises:
- Save money made from doing chores to give to an agency that helps the poor.
- Each week do an act of mercy or charity for someone in need.
- Give up a favorite food or beverage, such as candy, ice cream, pizza or soda. Whenever you crave that food, you will be reminded to think about what Jesus means in your life.
- Give up a favorite TV show and use that time to read, reflect and pray.
- Begin some discipline that helps you grow close to Jesus, like reading a portion of scripture and praying each day.
We hope your child will take on the spiritual practice of making and keeping a promise during this season. We have given each child a Lenten Calendar kit that can be helpful during this season, as well. Each day glue an appropriate square for that day on your calendar to remind you to keep your Lenten promise and your prayers. Use the purple squares for the days of the week and the yellow squares for Sundays. Use the special squares for the special days of Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter.
Please Note: Starting on March 8th, we will take the children from Small Talk to the Fellowship Hall to join the adults in Holy Communion. We will continue this practice through Holy Week. April 12th is our last Small Talk of the season. In The United Methodist Church, children are welcome to receive communion, but it is the parents who decide when their child can begin receiving communion. The table of Holy Communion is Christ’s table, not the table of The United Methodist Church or of the local congregation. The table is open to anyone who seeks to respond to Christ’s love and to lead a new life of peace and love, as the invitation to the table says. Our Book of Worship says, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup. By Water and the Spirit affirms: “Because the table at which we gather belongs to the Lord, it should be open to all who respond to Christ’s love, regardless of age or church membership. The Wesleyan tradition has always recognized that Holy Communion may be an occasion for the reception of converting, justifying, and sanctifying grace.”
When deciding whether or not your child will receive Holy Communion, it is helpful to consider that children grow spiritually by participating in the life of the church, including the Lord’s Supper. They experience the world through their bodies and make meaning about these experiences through their senses. Children have a strong need to belong. What better place for children to know they are valued than in their faith community! When children share in the meal of the Lord’s Supper they know they have a place where they can experience God’s unconditional love and belonging in the faith community.
As preparation for communion, start in the Bible. There are many “feeding stories” in the Old and New Testament that children and parents can explore together. (Genesis 18:6, Exodus 16, Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 22:7-23) Children understand the world through stories. If your child is unsure about mixing the taste of bread and grape juice, allow them to try it out with a taste test at home. If they receive Holy Communion with us Wednesday night s, children may have questions or responses they want to share after they receive the Lord’s Supper. Consider talking about this in the car on your way home from church or providing opportunities for children to share their Communion experiences by expressing themselves in an art form.* Instead of picking up in the Large Group room, 118, you can pick up your children from the First Cup room following Holy Communion.
If you choose for your child not to receive Holy Communion at this time, please let us know and we will ensure your child receives a blessing as they go forward, instead of the bread and the cup.
May this season of the Christian year be a meaningful time for you and your family. If you have any questions, please call us.
Grace and peace to you as we all seek to live as Jesus taught.
The Children’s Ministry Team
Stacy Harrell – firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-434-5978
Christie Brown – email@example.com 919-609-2391
Alicia Shelton – firstname.lastname@example.org 336-686-7630