Children, Mothering, Reflectionary

See Your Memories

NEC Commencement 017
#2 Son’s commencement, 2013, New England Conservatory

At my house, Facebook’s daily memories take us back in time to lives before the life we have now. I brought to our marriage the kids we call “the olders,” and they appear in this season wearing mortarboards and graduation gowns and prom attire. My stepson, in my mind, begins as the toddler son of a friend, but in my public life, he appears later, a schoolboy, in baseball uniform, or walking our puppy. The separate time zones of our memories remind me how new this life is still.

Sometimes I miss the old spaces: the house in Maine on a street with an esplanade of maple trees, the place where we picked up donuts, the beach where I walked my dogs of blessed memory. At the same time I am thankful for the new life, for the blending of two families into one, for the hope represented by God’s power to make me see myself and my world differently even at midlife. I am thankful.

Holy One, give us a glimpse of the future and gratitude for the present when we glance at the past. You are ever working with us and on us, and we thank you for it. Amen.

(Written originally for the RevGalBlogPals Weekly e-Reader. You can subscribe here.)

Books, Children, Pentecost

The Day When God Made Church ( book review)

Paraclete Press, 2016
Paraclete Press, 2016

The Day When God Made Church is a new children’s book from Paraclete Press, and it went to press just in time for the celebration of the holiday it describes, Pentecost. The author is a Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor, the Rev. Rebekah McLeod Hutto. The lively illustrations are by freelance artist Stephanie Haig.

The text of the book begins with the people who followed Jesus waiting to see what will happen next. Those gathered include men, women, children and animals, a microcosm of creation. The first-person plural narration draws the reader or listener into the story, as one hopes to do when reading to young children.

The animals notice something first, and then the people feel the wind of the Spirit. They respond with joy and with a range of verbal expressions:

Some with LOUD sounds,
some with quiet WHISPERS;
words like DRUMBEATS,
words that TIPTOE through the air.

The narrative continues through Peter’s sermon, which is paraphrased for a youthful understanding. We are all called upon to share the good news. The story includes references to Jesus’ ministry, and the illustrations amplify the telling with familiar symbols like loaves and fishes, a lamb, and the empty tomb.

Haig’s illustrations bring the simple text to life with swirls of color and texture. A variety of human and animal figures populate the pages, and the human – males and females across the age range – include a number of skin tones, hair colors and facial features, further embodying the idea of the book that all people are welcome to be part of the church God made and to share the good news with the world.

A photo I took of two of the pages. Don't you love the quizzical dog?
A photo I took of two of the pages. Don’t you love the quizzical dog?

While I don’t find it hard to tell the Pentecost story, and therefore haven’t looked for books to use with children, I really like Hutto’s approach, both theologically and pedagogically. It would be a great book to use for a children’s message in worship or in a Sunday School setting, and certainly appropriate at home as well. The illustrations are fun. They invite curiosity. I particularly appreciate the quirkiness shown by including animals throughout. They are a great way to keep children engaged with the overall story.

As is always true with books from Paraclete, the quality of the book is beautiful. Although it is a paperback, the paper is nice quality and feels good to hold in your hand.

I recommend The Day When God Made Church for church and home libraries, as well as the bookshelves of pastors and Christian educators.

*****

I received a review copy of the book from Paraclete in exchange for my honest assessment. This review originally appeared at RevGalBlogPals.

Children, Ministry, Prayers for Pastors

Tech Sabbath (a prayer for pastors)

Spirit of God,
You move like the wind,
are everywhere,
in everything.

But we are not looking for you
when our noses are bent toward
small screens and large,
when our eyes cross
and vision fades
after hours of studying
tiny images
held in our hands.

We know this, but it was a shock
when the 11-year-old said,
“Hey, maybe we could all
take a break from electronics!”

Hmmm. People might need us for something.
Suppose there is an actual emergency?
How can we arrange this?
Phones in a basket on the counter?
(We know the difference between
the ringer and a Facebook chime,
a tweet, a Bleacher Report update.)

After church, said the clergy parents.
After church, until Monday morning.

Today, may we find peace
in some Sabbath hours
unbusily spent
reading,
playing games,
going for a walk,
looking each other
in the eye,
looking for You.