Blog

Week 16

Rituals

This Sunday is Godparents’ Sunday. If you are able to visit your/a local church, you can ‘relive’ your baptism by going there today or one day this week. First, read and remind yourself of the baptismal promises. Second, take a trip to the church and make the sign of the cross as you enter (you may not be able to use water to do this but it can still help to remind us of the sacred space we are entering and our place within it). Then you can visit the font and think about your baptism. Look at the form of the church – some churches are cross-shaped to think about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many churches have the font near the front door (west) and then you can move through (east) towards the altar. This symbolises our own Christian journey. Take anything you want to ask God’s help for, with you on that journey as you move around the church building. As you leave, ask God to go with you in your everyday life. Have a drink of water (just from your own water bottle, or even from a tap when you get home again) as a reminder that God fills you up for that continuing journey with him.

Resources

The attached water-based prayer stations may be something you can do at home and/or something you can offer in your church as it reopens for private prayer – as long as this complies with all health and safety guidance.

Really good ideas

Some ideas for the future of children and youth ministry

Coming soon…Holiday Clubs at home/Virtual Holiday Clubs for the summer!

Week 15

Rituals

Baptism is one of the great rituals of the church. It is how we enter into the church and become part of God’s family. It is a sacrament of the church and one which has been absent during the lockdown period. Next Sunday (5 July) has been designated as Godparents’ Sunday by the Church of England. This has been an initiative for the past few years to celebrate Baptism in our churches, remind people of the promises they have made and gather them together for a service of thanksgiving and a renewal of promises. The focus has been on Godparents – as well as the baptised and their families – as an important connection with people who are responsible for praying for and encouraging the discipleship of those who are baptised.

This week, prepare and remind yourself of your own baptism – and/or the baptism of your children. Find photos, certificates and even the candle if you have one. Talk about the day and who was there. Plan a way to get in touch with Godparents for next Sunday, if you are able.

Resources

Use the attached order of service to go through the Baptism service together – as a reminder of your/their own or what might happen in the future. You can also use this for baptisms in your own church to help children who are attending to follow the service.

Really good ideas

Week 14

Rituals

Now some of us are able to pray in church buildings this can be a source of peace and an great aid to prayer after such a time of exile – being far away from our sacred spaces. For those who can’t, who live too far away or who are anxious about doing so, or as you begin to return to church buildings you may have a time to focus on what is important about Sacred Space. You may also wish to think about how you can create this space at home, or develop the atmosphere needed to pray. Talk together about it as a family

–        What is it that helps you feel close to God?

–        Are there sounds which help or is silence better?

–        Do you need to be in a particular building? Can you be outside?

–        Does it matter if you are alone or with other people?

–        Are there things you need to do or hold to help your focus?

–        Is it helpful to have something to look at, e.g. a cross or image?

Use what you find to inform how you pray together at home and what spaces you might need to create for this. However, also think about it as you return – or prepare to return – to church. Do you need to have more items for focus in your children’s spaces? Do you need to create more times of silence? What aids the spiritual development of your children and your family? (there is a challenge in the attached document related to this idea too!)

Resources

In the Bible passage for this Sunday (Matthew 10.24-39) Jesus is giving some instructions to his friends about following him. However, he doesn’t always have easy answers.

This week there are seven discipleship challenges for you to think about and respond to the idea of following Jesus.

However, as much as this is challenging we are also reminded in this passage that Jesus tells us ‘Do not fear’. The Bible says this 365 times – one for every day of the year – what a beautiful reminder at a worrying time.

Enjoy the challenges together!

Really good ideas

·        This Sunday is Father’s Day – here are some free resources from ROOTS https://www.rootsontheweb.com/fathers-day-ideas?fbclid=IwAR0jpxqBG_pIkrT5sEcX8Xiz755rDP4GGdzISy2gNmD3uiv12W904-C7jus

·        A video to help support children to understand the importance of physical distancing while still showing and sharing love with important people in our lives https://www.facebook.com/faberchildrensbooks/videos/676906269709189/?t=17

·        Those of you who are involved in Walsingham may have seen that the Youth Pilgrimage is going online this year https://www.facebook.com/ShrineOLW/videos/vb.406445776081175/251648819236266/?type=2&theater there is now a full timetable available on the Shrine’s website. I am planning to run a few Zoom events that week for young people in order to ‘stay connected’ – if you have young people who wish to be involved in this way please do get in touch.

Week 13

Rituals

The psalms are used as part of the routine of daily prayer in many traditional forms of morning and evening prayer. They remind us of many situations in which the people of God have found themselves and can be very helpful and relevant to the present day.

Try saying Psalm 121 every day this week, or exploring it a bit at a time together. It’s one of the shorter psalms and a great reminder of God’s guidance and protection as the lockdown eases and we begin to learn to live with risks.

Psalm 121 (New International Reader’s Version)

I look up to the mountains.
    Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
    He is the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He won’t let your foot slip.
    He who watches over you won’t get tired.
In fact, he who watches over Israel
    won’t get tired or go to sleep.

The Lord watches over you.
    The Lord is like a shade tree at your right hand.
The sun won’t harm you during the day.
    The moon won’t harm you during the night.

 The Lord will keep you from every kind of harm.
    He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go,
    both now and forever.

Resources

Returning to school – being prepared

This week’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel – Matthew 9.35-10.8(9-23) – includes Jesus sending out his disciples and giving them instructions. As part of this he tells them what they WON’T need to take with them:
‘You won’t need money; don’t take a bag or extra clothes. Don’t take sandals or a walking stick. You won’t need them.’

Use this to explore what we need and what we don’t need as we return to school.

Play a game by asking the children to quickly name three things they might need beginning with the same letter as their name, e.g. coat, colouring pencils, classroom.

Then things they won’t need, e.g. couch, cat, coal.

Make a list of some of the things they will need, but include some emotions/characteristics as well as physical things, e.g. courage, patience.

Make a reminder of some of these – or just a couple which they feel are most important – and ensure they are able to take this to school with them when they return. You could paint a pebble or a cross with the words on or add an object to a pencil case or school bag.

Jesus also gives some warnings:

‘You won’t always be welcomed.
You might find yourself in danger.
Sometimes, there will be unrest and difficulty.’

Talk together about some things which you are finding difficult at the moment and any worries you may have for the future. Jesus reminds us that life won’t always be easy. However, he promises his friends he will give them words to say and that the Holy Spirit will be with them.

Ask the children to draw around their feet. On one they can write their worries underneath and decorate on top. On the other write, ‘Wherever I go. God is with me’ as a reminder of Jesus’ promise. You can put these by the front door as a reminder to help with any anxiety on leaving the house.

Really good ideas

·        Resources from Youth for Christ via Ali Campbell at The Resource – really helpful for supporting mental wellbeing at home https://www.facebook.com/alitheresource/photos/pcb.2680458952191219/2680455908858190/?type=3&theater&ifg=1

·        Some resources have been prepared for school return – these are designed as assemblies but can provide helpful conversation starters and activities at home https://www.place2be.org.uk/media/yesltwzt/primaryschoolresources.pdf

·        Prayer cards for children and families https://youthworks.net/kidspray?fbclid=IwAR2I20bzaR68dGLd7t8iryYOX2xR3PAG0Ohc0rA6GEBtybD6OZ0FrY_Hdh  

Week 12

Rituals

 The focus in this week’s passage is not just the persons of the Trinity but how that Bible passage can teach us about God and what it has to teach us about ourselves. This practice of learning from Scripture, and from our daily living, more about who God is, what he has to say to us and how we can be part of that is a really important spiritual practice and one which is just as accessible for children as for adults.

Here is a fantastic tool to help you do that with your children 

https://pray-as-you-go.org/player/prayer%20tools/2286

Hopefully this ritual will help you to learn about each other and about God as we move into this new season in the Church of ordinary time – where the focus is on learning and growing together.  

Resources

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday so here are some resources to explore the Bible passage as a family with some activities, questions, a game and a craft. I’d love to know or see some pictures of how you get on.

Really good ideas

·        If you haven’t already seen them, the Church of England assemblies in partnership with Oak National Academy are released each Friday morning and you can find them and more resources here https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/faith-home/faith-home-videos

·        For those who are leaving school, university or making other transitions this summer, this may be a helpful read – or helpful to pass on to others in those situations. It’s about university but applicable to any similar context of leaving something behind and moving on. https://www.youthandchildrens.work/Read/Blog/A-letter-to-the-class-of-2020?fbclid=IwAR3bPdUV2YdDyTn2Z4EbRIg2i8hjsSCOl14Wt1FBrD_Y_3H1KhbyObmNWHU

·        Wonderful Word Vision are providing a free Little Pack of Hope https://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/resources/activities-uk-churches-families-and-communities-during-covid-19/

Week 11

Rituals

Having moved through the Easter season and celebrating Pentecost this weekend, next weekend we will celebrate Trinity Sunday before moving back into ‘ordinary time’ for a while. The Trinity is one of the most complex aspects of the Christian faith to understand. However, key to the Trinity is an understanding of God as relationship (in God’s self) but also that we can enter into a relationship with God. At a time when relationships are restricted (we cannot meet up etc. in normal ways) it is a great celebration that we can still come close to God. Talk about prayer as a conversation and Trinity as relationship this week and see where it gets you. If it’s not already in your practice, introduce a time of prayer and worship by saying ‘We meet in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ – this reinforces both ideas and is a helpful scene-setting for prayer and conversation with God.

Resources

Linked to that idea is the theme of the Faith in families booklet for week 6 – being closer to God. This is a really helpful way to see how we can grow in faith – it is not about learning and doing, it is about being and experiencing. Try and use that language this week as you share together.

Really good ideas

Week 10

Rituals

Thy Kingdom Come continues until Pentecost Sunday (31st May) so do find ways to connect with this special season of prayer.

One of the things that is most common in many churches is that people often come in to light a candle. It can be one of the things we turn to when someone is ill or if there is something we want to ask God’s help for. It might be one of the things you most miss about going into your church building. While you are able to light candles at home of course – if it is safe to do so – there is something special about lighting one in a holy place, a place where you can leave your prayers and questions with God. This week you could try lighting a virtual candle and handing your prayers over to God through that action. Try it here https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/light-candle.

Resources

In addition to the fifth week of the Faith in families booklet which looks at getting to know the Bible, I am also providing some ideas to explore and celebrate Pentecost together using things we use for other celebrations – balloons, cake and a song! I hope you can use them in the week leading up to and on Pentecost Sunday itself to really celebrate the birthday of the church and the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Really good ideas

Week 9

It may still be some time until we can be physically together again in our churches but this week provides a really important focus for being together in prayer so I hope we can all be involved in this initiative. 

Rituals

Thy Kingdom Come is a global wave of prayer from 21st-31st May. It’s going to look different this year but praying can still be done on our own or together. Try and set aside a time of day during this period to pray the Lord’s Prayer. You could do this with your household but could also ‘meet’ with others via video call to pray together. Try and join up with at least one other person to do this every day.

Resources

The Faith in families booklet explores ‘Loving other people’ this week. It would be good to explore how you have/could do this in the current situation – what new ways of showing love and care have you discovered?
On Thursday this week it is Ascension Day which begins a ten-day period of prayer instituted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading up to Pentecost on 31st May. I have included some prayer stations based on the Lord’s Prayer made specifically for this special time of prayer. These are designed to be set up in a church and used by everyone but could work at home, you could do one every day or set them up in a space in your home – or outside – and travel through them together.

Really good ideas

·        Thy Kingdom Come (the Church of England’s prayer initiative from Ascension to Pentecost) begins on Thursday this week. There are some great ideas for how to get involved including a Digital Family Prayer Adventure Map here https://www.thykingdomcome.global/sites/default/files/2020-04/Five%20Ideas%20for%20Families%20.pdf

·        Unfortunately on a very sad topic, but providing some very helpful resources: Saying goodbye from Together at home https://af51dd98-adab-4c43-ba03-c87e019551a5.filesusr.com/ugd/ebdd71_a046fb1bf386405d838acc0c207bb354.pdf

·        ROOTS for churches have continued to adapt their resources and are working with the Church of England to provide resources for each week in connection with the theme of the assemblies with TES, Oak National Academy and the Church of England https://www.rootsontheweb.com/faithathomewithroots

Week 8

Rituals

This week Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth and the life. It is through seeing and knowing him that we come to see and know his Father in heaven. We are using this time to get to know God better, but I hope although we are separated from our church families we can also use this time to get to know one another better and really appreciate why being together is so important. Find ways this week to connect with another family or person from your church, spend time together and get to know them. Explore together what knowing and following Jesus means to you.

Resources

I’ve been running a virtual youth group since lockdown (if you want any more information on this please email me) and have also been working (in my day job!) with ROOTS to adapt our resources to go virtual. This may work for you with your young people in churches or perhaps if you have teenagers of your own at home, to get together with another family group, we have made this week’s resources free to all so you can sample what’s on offer https://www.rootsontheweb.com/virtualyouthgroup

Really good ideas

Week 7

Rituals

The Bible passage for this week (John 10.1-10) talks about the sheep (us) following the shepherd (Jesus) because we know his voice. In our busy lives – even now as we fill our days with new and creative activities – how often do we make space to be still and listen for God’s voice? As part of building in regular prayer and worship time together be brave and build in times of silence. Spend time intentionally listening and find ways which help you to be still, e.g. finding a comfortable way of sitting, closing your eyes, having something to keep your focus. Share together afterwards what it felt like and if, in some way, you were able to hear God speaking to you.

Resources

This week the theme of the ‘Faith in families’ booklet is ‘Living a good life’. There are lots of ideas about memory verses and how to learn Bible verses together. Here are some ideas:

  • Learn one word each as a family and then put them all together
  • Play a game passing something round the circle saying a word at a time
  • Repeat the verse with different members of the family challenging you to say it in different ways, e.g. whispering, sounding excited, in different accents
  • Say the verse with actions
  • Have some write the verse and somebody else rubbing it out – swap roles over as needed
  • Set the verse to music
  • Decorate your house with the verse using bunting or peg it up somewhere so you see it every day
  • Write the verse on building blocks and build a tower – you could also have someone knocking the tower down to be built back up again
  • Have a relay race to collect the words of the verse and build the verse up in the correct order
  • Hide the words of the verse around the house then find them and put them in the correct order
  • And many more!

Really good ideas

Week 6

Rituals

This week’s Gospel passage is all about Jesus sharing his story with the disciples, perhaps they also share their story of loss and grief after the death of their friend with him. It is through this sharing, both of stories, and food together, that they recognise him and come into relationship with him again.
Use these simple ways of being together this week. Make story time part of your week; not only sharing books and stories but take time at the end of each day to share the story of your day together. Write a story together! Write a diary/story of your lockdown time. Make and share food together, perhaps some bread as you remember this particular story, and share what you all know about Jesus’ story – and which parts are most important to you.

Resources

This week the Faith in families booklet continues with week 1 which is all about praying. I have also attached a document with 5 simple sessions for stories, games and crafts based on prayer for children to support your work with the Faith in families booklet this week.

Really good ideas!

Week 5

Rituals

This week’s Gospel passage for Sunday is all about Thomas who had to see to believe. Sometimes at the moment it might be hard to believe what’s actually happening in the world – until you turn on the news or go to the supermarket that is! We might be blessed with being able to believe in Jesus without seeing, or to hold onto the love of our families, although we cannot see them at the moment. However, it’s a helpful passage to remind us that it’s ok to ask, it’s ok to need ‘proof’, it’s ok for our faith to be based on tangible things as well. This week spend some time noticing what you see, hear, feel, taste, smell and what things help to strengthen and consolidate your faith. The sunshine might be one of them, or the touch of a wooden holding cross. Use them and savour them.

Resources

The attached ‘Faith in families’ document is the first section of a booklet, lasting over six weeks (plus this introduction). I hope that this will add consistency to your times together. We have already looked at; a format for Sunday worship time, various ways of worshipping outdoors, plus daily devotional time connected to Easter – which hopefully provided other ideas which can be ongoing, e.g. Memory verse work and songs/video resources.

I will continue to add additional resources alongside this but hope it’s a really helpful document – and can act a bit like a diary/scrapbook of this time – to build and explore faith together.

Really good ideas!

Week 4

Happy Easter for tonight/tomorrow when the celebration of light and life will become real in our hearts and lives. I pray that you will experience this in new ways, whether you feel close to God or far away through our isolation from Church and from one another. 

Rituals

Easter lasts for 50 days! Which is a good job as we need to continue in this atmosphere of joy and celebration to help us through these difficult times. You are probably trying to keep a sense of routine in terms of school work, your work, housework as well as eating, sleeping and exercising – and hopefully worshipping. Add into that time for daily joy and reflection. Decide on some things which bring joy, simple things, e.g. blowing bubbles, sharing an edible treat, feeding the birds, craft, and decide on a list for this week. Couple that with something to thank God for/reflect about, e.g. family, food, creation. Add your activities to the reward chart and give yourself a star for every day you do them. Remember to pray/reflect when you do the activities.

Resources

Ideas for Easter – a week of celebration of the life that Jesus gives us, life in all its fullness, life with him – forever. Enjoy and keep celebrating!

Really good ideas!

·        Diddy Disciples are livestreaming Compline, led by children, via their Facebook page. Another thing which may aid bedtime routines https://www.facebook.com/diddydisciples/

·        In addition to Joe Wicks for PE, you might like to look at Fischy Music’s youtube channel on Monday mornings as they livestream several of their songs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcPYmV-2DY4

·        Scripture Union are now offering regular ‘Lockdown’ content and have already released their ‘Diary of a disciple’ as a free audiobook. Suggested for those aged 7-11 https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/diary-disciple-lukes-story-audio-all-chaptersfbclid=IwAR37m3OvFoBCZZSqAQEMxrbRwK7uzbBq03UgDtsi81hupD4vQ5dl5z-mzcI

Week 3


I’m aware that many people are planning new ways to mark Holy Week and Easter this year, so I am emailing out slightly early to ensure that children and young people are provided for in your planning.I hope you are all well.

Rituals

By now the feeling of lockdown may be very difficult and finding ways to keep some normality and retain some familiarity is important. This week is Holy Week and gives a real opportunity to tap in to some familiar practices from our church liturgies and rituals, to recreate in our own homes. Do something each day (ideally each morning) to recognise the journey of the week, why not set up a pathway to the cross and move a pebble or a counter (one for each member of your household) along it every day.

Mark the days together too. On Thursday re-create the Lord’s Supper in your own home – you might include foot washing(!) or sharing bread together, but share a special meal (around a table if you can) and talk together about the last supper, share the story from Luke’s Gospel. On Friday, have some quiet time in front of a cross, read the story of ‘The three trees’ Angela Elwell Hunt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5qRzTOpOnk and read Matthew’s account of the crucifixion. On Saturday, if you can, build an Easter garden together including; rocks for the tomb, hills with crosses on them, as well as flowers and signs of new life. Of course, on Sunday we will be celebrating in a different way, but try and create an atmosphere of celebration, worship together, have Easter eggs and sings songs of joy.

Resources

The Holy week booklet gives ideas for each day and helps build the story together through the week.

Really good ideas!

·        Rhema Theatre company have made 11 films/dramas about Holy Week and Easter freely available https://talesfromthemiraclebook.co.uk/

·        This beautiful book has been made available for free and may really help calm any anxieties at bedtime https://issuu.com/churchpublishing/docs/candlewalk5?fr=sNmZhNjY3MDM3Mg

·        If you are shopping don’t forget the real Easter Egg to celebrate Easter https://meaningfulchocolate.co.uk/collections/real-easter-egg (also available in some larger supermarkets)

With many prayers for a peaceful and blessed Holy Week, however you are marking it.

Week 2

How has the week been? What resources have been useful to you? What would you like to see more of? Have you tried worshipping together as a family at home? 

Rituals

The clocks go forward tonight meaning we lose an hour’s sleep, but we also gain more light in the evenings. Even in these uncertain times, the turning of the world still adds rhythm to our days. We are also encouraged to get outside once a day, safely, for exercise, just with those with whom we live. Try and make the most of it and begin a new pattern this week of experiencing the outdoors in the extra light we have. Try and spend an hour outside each day (if safe to do so, and observing all government guidelines), ideally later in the day to really notice the change in the light. Talk about and explore the idea of Jesus as the light of the world and how we notice that in our daily lives – whether we are experiencing dark times, or the light of joy.

Resources

To accompany our outdoor theme – here are seven ideas to try worship/prayer together outdoors this week.

Really good ideas!

These certainly are unprecedented times but we know that God is with us and will remain faithful.

There are many resource providers who are seeking to amend what they offer and allow free content to all. I would advise following certain groups on Facebook/Twitter for lots of regular updates, e.g. Going for growth, Scripture Union, Messy Church BRF, Prayer Spaces in Schools, GodVenture, Parenting for Faith BRF, Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry.

I will be offering three simple things each week:

·        Rituals

·        Resources

·        Really good ideas!

There are many people out there doing lots of excellent things so I am not trying to reinvent the wheel or suggest that these ideas are exhaustive or the best examples. However I am keen to offer consistent support at this time and try to signpost the best ideas available from others.

Week 1

Rituals

Attending church for lots of families becomes a regular part of life. Even if it isn’t we are used to rituals and routine. Many families will be trying to build new patterns at this time, alongside trying to maintain work, look after relatives etc.
Faith formation shouldn’t be a burden should provide an additional element to our everyday ‘rituals’ at home.
While assigning a particular time to explore faith together might be tricky, it is good to assign a particular space. Involve children in ‘setting up’ this space and recognising a change in gear and a change in atmosphere as you move into a time of worship. If regular routine is helpful at home then consider dedicating time on a Sunday, ideally when your church would be meeting.

Resources

Please find attached a format for worship at home.
One with particular resources included for Mothering Sunday.

Really good ideas!

·        If you haven’t already, now would be a really good time to download Guardians of Ancora (from Scripture Union). A free game which explores Bible stories. While screen time may be limited, it will also be more important – in terms of learning and remaining connected. This is a great way to make it a positive experience.

·        Illustrated children’s ministry are offering some of their resources free at this time via a weekly email https://www.illustratedministry.com/flattenthecurve

·        ROOTS have adapted their offering for subscribers to provide resources for both adults and families at home. In addition to that they are offering more FREE materials – follow the link on the homepage https://www.rootsontheweb.com/

Happy worshipping! 

Do let me know how you get on, if you have any questions and if there are other ways you would like to build community at this time, e.g. connecting via video call.

Finally do join in with the call to prayer on Sunday 22nd March at 7pm by lighting a candle and joining the church at prayer.

Prayers and best wishes

Clare


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