It takes relationships

Mrs. Gertner seemed ancient to me as I sat in the brightly colored tiny chairs for Sunday School opening. Mrs. Herman was the mom of my best friend at church – she was like a second mom to me – she taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. Despite having a lousy attitude in confirmation class, (and having Pastor Ted heave a bible at me during a Saturday morning session), I developed relationships with people in the church where I attended – and I maintained them through adolescence and adulthood.

The goal of cross generational faith formation is to help people develop relationships. Think about it . . . how many of you can put a name and a face together? Do you know the name of the two boys sitting up front with their mom, while their dad serves as a Sacristan? How about the shy blonde girl and her brother, and their parents? Do you know the name of the kindly lady with white hair that sits in the third row back, on the choir side of the sanctuary? Do you know the name of the guy who makes wine for Maundy Thursday, or the lady who organizes the funeral lunches?

Cross generational faith formation isn’t about making things easy or throwing away “Sunday School.” Remember those promises we made at baptism – “to support and pray for them in their new life in Christ?” – you can find it on page 228 of the ELW. It takes a village to help our families become connected to Christ. It takes relationships.

It takes more than two or three parents teaching Sunday School to a handful of children during the sermon on Sunday morning. It takes more than asking children to sit quietly in church for worship and expecting them to understand why we do what we do.

We need to learn to talk about our faith, together. Perhaps sharing and talking about our faith with those in our church can help us to be better disciples when we walk outside these hallowed walls. We need to participate in this Christ-life together.

Submitted by Kathy Kephart Weinberg

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What does it mean to wear a cross?

I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle last week. We ventured out to the Olympic peninsula to take in the beauty of God’s creation. The mountains were majestic. The lakes were peaceful. The forests were absolutely beautiful. God’s creation is amazing. It was a great break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

We also spent some time in the city. As we were walking around the Seattle Center area (a tourist area), I was approached by a street vendor – one of the many locals trying to sell their wares. He handed me something, which I soon realized was CD and that he wanted me to give him some money. I kindly told him I was not interested and he asked “what is that around your neck?”. He was referencing the cross that I had on and asked me what it meant in a kind of taunting way. I told him it was cross and it represented my faith in Jesus. But I left it at that – in hindsight, I could have said more.

His question made me really think – what does it mean for me to wear the cross? Are my actions and words a reflection of my faith? I feel this was a “challenge” from God. And I pray that God will give me strength and courage to live each day as his disciple.

Debbie LaFontaine

Life is Better with Jesus

Seeing God at work in my life was easy during our recent visit with our grandchildren in San Diego.  They are “tweens” of integrity, vigor and fun. They reflect the values taught by their Sunday school and their parents, who live the values of their Christian faith.

God is also present in unexpected places and times. Returning home from this visit, I was waiting for my beer at an airport bar in Nashville. The man sitting next to me said, “I’ve heard people say they were doing God’s work, but I’ve never seen anyone wear it on their wrist.“ He was referring to the plastic “God’s Work, Our Hands” wristband, which I have worn for the past six months and have recently considered taking off.  Our brief conversation revealed that he was a seeker of life’s meaning through a variety of Christian denominations. He was disappointed that he had not found a church that filled him with what he wanted. After briefly discussing our respective faith journeys, we concluded that, no matter which church we attend, “Life is better with Jesus.”

Thank you, God, once again for giving me the opportunity to be your witness.

Paul Stratton

God Works through Kids Hope

God is working in my life. Sometimes I experience the effect of God on me directly. Sometimes I experience the effect of God working through me to help another person. This is how God has worked through me as a Kids Hope mentor.

Today I had lunch with a father and son. What was special about that was that I had been the son’s Kids Hope mentor about five years ago at Randolph Elementary. That had been a time when he was stressed about his parents’ divorce and was having difficulty at school. Dad said that I had helped the son get through a really difficult time. For the past five years the son has spoken of me and our special time together, and he still has a picture of us together on his dresser.

Dad had reached out to me on Facebook and arranged for us to have lunch today. It was like Randolph Elementary was just yesterday, except that my mentee is now taller than I am. I felt good as he talked about how he feels confident about how he will deal with the challenges of starting high school and the changes in his family, as Dad’s girlfriend moves in with her two children. He talked enthusiastically about his interests and hopes for the future. As we prepared to leave, Dad and I reflected on the importance of mentors in our own lives, as both of us still have a relationship with the mentor from our youth.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to be a Kids Hope mentor.

Paul Stratton

A God Sighting from Marlene Runnion

I read the devotions from Christ in our Home on a daily basis. The one from Wednesday, June 26 is particularly appropriate for Holy Trinity as we seek our new pastor so I wanted to share it. The title is God provides the replacement and it is based on 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21. Quoting from the devotion: “Through God’s help, Elijah achieved a great victory on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). When Jezebel sought to kill Elijah, he fled. He met God on Mount Horeb. He complained that he was the only one left in Israel who worshiped God. God told Elijah that there were still seven thousand worshipers in Israel. God also told Elijah that a successor, Elisha, has been chosen. In those times when we are worried about who our next pastor or leader will be, today’s reading comforts us with the knowledge that God is in charge. God will provide a leader. The story of Elijah reassures us that God will not forget us.”

A God Sighting from Joan Gaul

Last week my nephew, Phil…an electrician, was on a ladder in a downtown Detroit building doing a renovation.  He  was jolted with electricity 3 times and then fell off the ladder. His boss rushed him to Hutzel  hospital and they quickly did an EKG, very concerned about his heart. They then transferred him to Detroit Receiving Hospital Trauma Center.  He had shattered his elbow, his back was black and blue and all swollen, and he could barely function.  The next day he had surgery.  The doctor came out of surgery after an extra hour, but he said it went well.  He also said if  Phil had not fallen off the ladder he would have died from electrical shocks – so that he was very lucky.  We (the family) all agreed God intervened and we are all very  thankful.  Phil is also very thankful and will now be able to walk his only daughter down the aisle at her wedding  this September.  Praise God.

 

A God Sighting from Bill Deacon

Our good family friend, Bob, was heading up north with his two brothers. They were towing a pontoon boat. As they rounded a corner on a country road, the boat slipped off the trailer. The three brothers contemplated what they could do about the situation. Lifting the boat back onto the trailer would be quite a task for the brothers who are all over 65 years old. God provided an answer – a car full of four young men stopped to help! Bob and his brothers were back on the road with the boat on the trailer. As Bob was telling me the story, I said “Bob, that’s a God Sighting!” He said no, “Those were angels!”