St. Mary's on the Highlands Episcopal Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Children's Ministries Blog
From the February 5, issue of the St. Mary's Newsletter
“They felt it.”
By Beverley Hoyt
“Who felt what?” you may ask. The question was, “How did the wise men know to go seeking the Savior who had been born?” The answer I expected from the gathered group of children ages 3-12 was, “They saw/followed the star.” What I got was a much more profound answer.
Placing a hand over his heart, a six year old child looked up at me and said, “They felt it.” His gesture showed me that he believed the wise men felt the Christ child come into the world; they knew it deep in their souls. This six year understands the profound doctrine of the Gospel reading of the Magi. He understands that these men, these kings, had such a relationship with God that they felt his arrival in this world. It does not matter where they came from; how long it took them to arrive at the home of the infant king; where Jesus and his family were living. The truth is that the kings had been waiting and they knew when Jesus came into the world, they felt it. There was not a news broadcast or a messenger sent in any form other than a star, but they felt the presence of God incarnate in their world and were called to respond.
Have you ever felt it? Have you had moments when the kingdom of God was so near you could feel it? This six year old knows that we can feel the presence of Christ in the world. That it is possible to align ourselves with God in a relationship where we can feel his presence. He knows that God is and wants to be close with us always, so much so that we can feel his presence.
I am (again) called to examine my own faith. Am I forming/maintaining a relationship with God in which I can feel his presence? Would I have gotten up and gone seeking this infant king? How much time do I spend rationalizing my feelings rather than acting on them? Am I still enough to know when God is present in my life? Am I watching and waiting?
Every Sunday that I work with the children of St. Mary’s, the children along with the Holy Spirit call me into deeper relationship with Christ. “How much closer are children to God?” I am called to ask myself. Christ tells us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children (Matthew 19:13) and that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:16 and Luke 18:17). In what ways can I open my life to that child-like relationship I am to have with God the Father, Jesus the Good Shepherd, and the Holy Spirit who lives within me?
Help me to be like a child and to be aware of your love deep within my soul. Help me to feel your presence in my life like a child and like the Magi.
In your holy name I pray,
Catechist Corner-January 1, 2012 issue of the St. Mary's Newsletter
Catechist Corner-October 15, 2011 issue of the St. Mary's Newsletter
By Beverley Hoyt
I love Sunday and being in the Atrium with the children! They seem to have a special capacity for understanding God’s love and his word that we adults do not have. I learn from them every week and am constantly amazed at how easily they comprehend “hard” ideas from scripture.
Without knowing it, the children are developing their moral sense of “how to act in the kingdom of God.” They are fully aware that God has a plan and that they are a part of that plan. Now they are learning that they have choices to make which will help strengthen the Kingdom!
Catechist Corner-June 5, 2011 issue of the St. Mary's Newsletter
By Beverley Hoyt
People frequently ask me to explain Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to them. What is it?
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24
By Virginia Phillips
We reread a part of the scripture: “…but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” What is Jesus trying to tell us? That one life can make more life in the world. That we are supposed to do a lot of good things with our lives. One child, a boy, ran over to another table and grabbed a figure of the Good Shepherd from a work relating to that parable and called out: The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep! Jesus died so we can have life!
By Beverley Hoyt
During the season after Epiphany, a class on communion was offered for 3rd and 4th graders of St. Mary’s who wished to gain a deeper understanding of the gift of the Holy Eucharist. The children explored scripture and their relationship with Christ. The children spent 5 weeks in Bible study and prayer and then had a day long retreat where they renewed their Baptismal vows and had the Rite of Reconciliation. These children are to be commended for their hard work and dedication to their lives with Christ.
The children who participated are pictured below: Adah Allen, Jacob Brashears, Carter Dewees, Evan Dunbar, Cate Jones, Nia Katechis, Kathleen Kelley, William Lott, Warner Payne, Atkins Roberts, Bruce Toomey, William Watts, Anna Caroline Williamson.
By Brantley Fry
If we want to help the child draw nearer to God, we should with patience and courage seek to go always closer to the vital nucleus of things. This requires study and prayer. The child will be our teacher if we know how to observe.
– Sofia Cavalletti, Co-creator of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
One Sunday a couple of years ago, my husband and I attended a class that Beverley was teaching for Adults so we could see what our children were learning in Sunday school. This class seemed like a good way to avoid the more complicated theological classes that were offered to adults that day. We could opt for the “easy” class, and avoid the (self imposed) embarrassment of not being able to answer questions or knowledgably contribute to the conversation in the adult classes. Instead, what we realized was this Catechesis thing is not an “easy,” watered down, kid version of Sunday school, but a challenging way of opening ourselves to a relationship with God.
We found ourselves immersed in “Sunday school” on a level we had never experienced and were propelled into the simplistic beauty that is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. That one class got us hooked and after serving as Atrium Assistants for a year, we began the formation course last summer. What we learned very quickly was that Catechesis is not about teaching one’s knowledge to children; it’s about learning with children.The title of the formation textbook may sum it up most succinctly; it’s about “Listening to God with Children.”
When reading Sophia Cavaletti’s statement above, the portion that stands out is, “…The child will be our teacher if we know how to observe.” As parents, many of us recognize and identify with this statement, because our children teach us something every day. Sometimes those lessons are missed until days, weeks, months, or years later, but when we observe and are aware, the lessons become apparent more quickly and more powerfully. On those Sundays when we have the privilege of being in the Atrium, the 4 and 5 year-old children of this parish teach us about and bring us closer to God. They teach us to be still and listen to God.
It’s amazing! I used to think that we would have to tell the kids to be still and listen, but that’s typically not how it happens in the Atrium. What could be a room full of commotion and noisiness more typical of kindergartners is instead (on most Sundays) a room full of prayerful learning and peaceful accord. It never fails to amaze me how these otherwise rambunctious children enter the Atrium and become calm and quiet. The space of the Atrium inspires peace and the children flourish in this peace. They come to the Atrium – a place of prayer and contemplation - and they bring a calmness, preparedness, and openness to pray and contemplate the mysteries of God. They teach us that if we are still and listen, we can have a closer relationship with God.