Monday, October 28, 2013

ALL SAINTS: Surrounded by Saints!

My cousin's little saint Lorna who
now plays with Jesus all day!
It's a little too late for this year but I just remembered that at a church I went to a few years ago we all brought photos of family members and put them all around the sanctuary along with photos of church leaders like Luther and his reformation colleagues.  We had candles in the windowsills and either taped photos on the windows or set them on the sills as well.  It was so cool to be in worship surrounded by all our family members.

At one point in the service we also had an opportunity to say their names out loud.  The pastor paused and took a few moments for us to say the names of as many as we could remember.

It was incredible!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

CHRISTMAS: Children's Lantern Procession

Glass jar lanterns
Image from
This is one of my favorite ideas! Ever try a Christmas Children's Lantern Procession? It would be so cool for a Christmas Eve service! The kids would need to get together to create their lanterns and could take them home afterward. I suggest you not use actual candles as that may be asking for trouble. If moms want to use them at home then I'd let that be their choice but kids walking through the congregation with open flames... maybe not... even in jars. The cutest and easiest examples I found were on

  • Small Glass Jars - remember that heavy jars may be hard to carry. (Baby food jars?)
  • Strong Twine or Fine Wire - to make the handle tightly wrap the twine around the lip and leave a nice loop.
  • Glow Sticks or Electric Tea Lights or Candles (Do you dare?)
  • Tissue Paper & Glue or Modge Podge - can give it a great stained glass look.
Other options and things that can also be used to decorate the jar:
  • Sheets of Vellum - color on them with Sharpies and slip them inside around the edges of the  jar.
  • Colored Sharpie Markers - can be used to color vellum or even right on the glass.  If you want them to color on the glass you can make it more permanent by putting them in the over for about 30 min.
  • Aluminum Foil - to make small silver stars to attach to the outside.
  • Ribbon - to tie around the lip.
  • Doilies - can be colored, cut and glued strategically to look like lace.
  • Black paper can be used to create a silhouette of a manger or an angel.
Just imagine all the little kidlets carrying their lanterns as they process in with the choir.  They could walk all the way in and out with their lanterns or there could be a special place where they put them up front as amazing creative decorations. They'll look like a bunch of twinkling stars if displayed creatively.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

HS YOUTH: Advent Meditation Through Art & Music

One of the things teenagers don't do a lot is take time to pause and meditate.  Why not take the time to set something up for Advent? Take a Wednesday night or have an event before Christmas where they can come to church and meditate while watching a bunch of slides of paintings of the Bible and Jesus with music playing in the background. The music can be contemporary but should be contemplative as the goal is to give them time to relax and focus on God and not themselves. Be careful of the contemporary music you choose, some of it may have a nice message but is not Biblical and some is focused on how we feel and not what God has done. If you need some help find contemporary songs try this website. You can also try some instrumental versions of hymns if you don't find any recorded hymns that fit the mood.

Provide scriptural quotes and a few questions to help them focus as they meditate.  If you need somewhere to start, I've created a brief meditational experience you can borrow or use to create your own.

There are SO many great songs out there for this time of year but here are a few suggestions that fit with what I wrote:

  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • Come, Lord Jesus (Great is the Darkness) - Noel Richards
  • From the Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee
  • Do I Trust You Lord? - Twila Paris
  • God of Mercy, God of Grace
  • Joseph's Song - Michael Card
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Mary's Song (Breath of Heaven) - Amy Grant
  • Mary Did You Know? - Kathy Mattea
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • We Three Kings
  • Peace Shall Come - Hayley Westenra
  • Silent Night

Friday, October 4, 2013

REFORMATION: Society Then and Now

I found this great information regarding the Renaissance and the Reformation from that was very enlightening as the more I read it the more I saw that it remarkably parallels society today.  I think it would make for some great discussion as we get closer to Reformation Day.

Renaissance and the Reformation
Humanists and artists made it an age of individualism and self-creativity making society very secularized.
Europeans were very focused on materialism.
1543 is said to be the origin of the scientific revolution and would end with Newton at the end of the 17th century.  (Internet and the Technological Revolution)
The printing press made it possible to disseminate ideas (create books) more cheaply than ever before.  (Blogs)
Many people found the church’s emphasis on tradition and ritualism unhelpful in their quest for personal salvation.
The church leadership was said to have lost its spiritual influence over its people.
There was a general tendency toward anti-church with a distrust and dislike of the clergy.
One group believed it was time to do away with organized religion and another believed it was time for reform.
The church was considered too formal and boring and the people sought a more personal and spiritual religion; something that would touch their hearts.
The people wanted a guarantee that they were doing the right thing to be saved.
The traditions and rituals of the church began to mean little to the people.
The church gave little thought to reforming itself.
Mystics became more popular claiming they had been illuminated and found the “key” to salvation.   
Commerce and trade was so good that people felt life here and now was something good to the point that there was no real need for God.
The church was challenged by an increasing awareness of ethnicity and nationalism with events such as Joan of Arc and the 100 Years War.  (Immigration)
Merchants and skilled workers living in cities were growing wealthy and influential with growing materialism.  (Lobbyists)
European kings were more interested in power than nobility.  (Politicians)

REFORMATION: Repost - Crocktoberfest

Many Lutheran congregations, as they have a German heritage, host or participate in an Oktoberfest of some kind during the fall.  As we also love potluck suppers I came up with what I call Crocktoberfest! It's a great way to get people together and these days you can find recipes for almost anything from soup to cake and all people have to do is unplug the crock pot and bring whatever is in it to church.  Make sure you have plenty of outlets!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ADVENT: Christkindl Market

This is one of the coolest ideas I've seen for Advent! It's right up there with the Nativity on Parade idea I posted last year. Christkindlesmarkt is something that happens every year in Nuremberg, Germany and I think it would be fantastic to do a version of it at every church.

There are many ways a congregation could enjoy their own Christkindlesmarkt. Try one of these:

  • Fundraiser where the ladies groups (or the whole congregation) raise funds for a charity by selling...
    • Baked Goods
    • Christmas Ornaments and Decorations
  • Community celebration to invite families and the whole neighborhood into the church where there are stations where they can:
    • Make traditional Christmas crafts and ornaments.
    • Make and/or taste traditional Christmas foods.
    • Meet the magi and the shepherds and enter the stable as they hear the story of Christmas.
    • Learn about German (or your heritage) Christmas traditions.
    • Have times throughout where live entertainment is shared through children singing songs or doing a short Christmas pageant, small adult groups could perform, story telling, etc.
    • Have a photo booth where families and/or friends can dress up in Christmas costumes such as shepherds and angels. If you're creative about the background you'll get some fabulous photos.
I LOVE this idea! It can be a great educational and fun experience. If anybody tries it please let me know how it goes!