Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What We Are Reading - August 2018

Here are the books we will be reading during
Extended Session during the month of August! 

All theses are available through the Carnegie Library.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Reflections: Jesus is the Garlic Bread of Life

Jesus said " I am the garlic bread of life..."    

Okay, no he didn't. But he did say he was the "bread of life."

But I really love garlic bread - it's my favorite. So, guess what I am thinking about this week? Yes, bread.  I am also thinking about what Jesus being "the bread of life" means for me.  

What's your favorite kind of bread? (OK - this is making me hungry!) If you think about it, bread is something that people all over the world eat.  It can look different and taste different and can be called by all different names.  That's probably why Jesus used it to describe himself. 

Jesus often used things that people would be familiar with as an example to help people know more about him.

In this week’s scripture, the people following Jesus are asking him questions to try to figure out how God wants them to live. They asked Jesus “What does God want from us—help us to know how God wants us to live?”  They remembered the stories about the people hungry in the wilderness and how God fed them with mana– the bread that came from heaven. 

(You guys, remember that story from the Old Testament when it literally rained bread? Oh, man - now if rained garlic bread that would be heaven!)

Jesus told them that yes, God fed their ancestors bread and that God gave them life.

And the people said “ well, we want bread like that, too.”

And then in Jesus told them (paraphrased)

“I am the bread of life. I am the nourishment that feeds you. Anyone that follows me will not go hungry. If you listen to what I am saying and what I am teaching, you will not be thirsty."

Jesus shared a lot of meals with people during his life. He ate with his family, he ate on the road with his friends. He ate fish on the beach after his friends brought in the day’s catch. He ate meals at parties and weddings and there are many stories in the Bible about Jesus feeding people when they are hungry.  (I secretly imagine that Jesus loves garlic bread, too.)  So for me, I think that Jesus is saying that his teachings about God's love for the world and how we should treat each other is - well,  life. 

Here is what I am thinking about this week: 

There are so many stories in the Bible about Jesus eating with people. Sharing a meal with people is sacred.  So why do I sometimes eat alone?  I sometimes eat alone in front of the TV or while reading a book. Who could I reach out to that might be lonely and want to share a meal?

How have you seem or felt God giving you like this week? Are there friends and family that give you life? Who can you share a meal with that gives you life?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

VBS 2018 - Sunday Funday

We just wrapped up our version of Vacation Bible School - Sunday Fundays!

Kids were invited to stay after church for three consecutive Sundays to hear Bible stories, sing songs, and participate in fun crafts and activities.
Bible stories shared included Jesus sending out the disciples (Mark 6: 1-13),  Jesus calming the storm ( Mark 4: 35-40), Jesus walking on water ( Mark 6: 45-52  ), and Jesus Feeding the 5,000 (John 6:1-21).

Our activities included a walk to the Children's Institute playground, making crafts and edible slime, a visit from pet therapy dog Luna, and making pretzels to share with neighbors.  

A good time was had by all! Enjoy the pictures! 

(Thank you Linda May for some of the great photos)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Reflections - Leftovers

I just happened to be eating leftover Kraft mac & cheese as I read through the scripture passages for this week.  The Gospel story is from John and it's this Gospel writer's version of the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  This is one of the stories about Jesus that is written about in all four of the Gospels.

Here's what I am thinking about this week:  What did they do with the leftovers?

Read John 6: 1-21

Jesus and the disciples cross the Sea of Galilee and when they get to the other side they find that a large crowd has gathered. People had been listening to him teach and watching him heal people and they wanted to be near him.  Jesus and the disciples went up to a flat place on the mountain and looked at all the people that were gathering.  This version from John says that Jesus asks Philip
"Where are we going to buy the bread for these people to eat?"  Now, I am pretty sure Jesus was was trying to see if Philip could come up with the plan.  I mean - we know from Jesus' previous miracles that he would be able to figure this out.  Andrew points Jesus in the direction of young man who has five loaves of bread and two fish - but they all know that won't be enough.  The Gospel tells us Jesus thanks God for the food and uses that small amount of food to miraculously feed the crowd. And not only was there enough, but there were leftovers.   The people that gathered to be near Jesus had gotten exactly what they came for. When they saw the leftover food and realized that everyone had eaten, they saw that this was a sign - a miracle  - and they began to whisper to one another that this was surely "the prophet of God come to the world."

So about those leftovers...
The passage says that Jesus instructs the disciples to "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."   They gathered up twelve baskets.
The scripture doesn't say what they actually do with the leftovers.  We can guess that they used them to feed themselves and others who were hungry while they were on their journeys.

I am thinking this week about sharing and wasting our many blessings.  Jesus ordered the leftovers to be gathered so that nothing would be wasted.  So many people have so little, but like the young man in the story they are willing to share what they have.  Also, there are also so many people that are blessed with much more than they need.   This story about Jesus reminds me that God is calling us to do both: Share what we have with other who are in need. And, definitely don't waste leftovers.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Summer Reading - Check these out!

 I do love reading young adult and children's fiction. Here are a few books I've read that would be great summer reads for older elementary and middle school age kids.   All of these are available at the Carnegie Library. 

"Hello,  Universe" by Erin Entrada Kelly is an adventure story told from the perspective of four different kids.  The kids are not friends at the beginning of the story.  Then a sort of disaster occurs that brings them together in several different ways. The main characters are a diverse group. 

 "Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball."

"Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring" by Angela Cervantes is the story of Paloma Marquez who is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She's hoping that spending time in Mexico will help her remember her father. While in Mexico, Paloma meets siblings who want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.  This is where the adventure begins! 

"The Misfits Club" by Kieran Mark Crowley is about a small town where nothing ever happens. Only misfits can solve this mystery!
Kids that live there, Brian, Hannah, and twins Chris and Sam live start their summer vacation, but they know it's the end of an era. The Misfits Club, a club they started when they were 8 years old, is disbanding and they still haven't managed to solve any real mysteries.
But when they persuade new club member Amelia to go and investigate a spooky old house, they unexpectedly discover some stolen goods.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Books to Read (Parents) - Homesick & Happy

This is an older book that I just discovered recently - but think it is a great read for parents.  

Author Michael Thompson writes that parents' first instinct- to shelter their offspring above all else- is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go and watching them come back transformed. 

That doesn't just have to be summer camp, although that is the focus of this book. It could be visits with grandparents, trips with friends, or anything that separates kids from their parents. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be "both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant."   It's a quick and easy read that can help parents feel good about letting go and fostering independence in their kids. 

Read more about it here  

Ukulele Club this Fall

This fall we are starting a Ukulele Club for children and youth who want to learn. We will meet twice a month before Sunday school from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m.  Kids in kindergarten and up are welcome to participate!

We will have some classroom instruments for those who are interested in trying it out. If you would like to purchase your own please see the links below. 

Fall dates:
Sept. 16, 30
Oct. 14, 28
Nov. 11
Dec. 9

Please let me know if you are interested! 

Mahalo Soprano Ukulele

Kala Color Chord

We brought Ukuleles on our 2014 mission trip to El Porveenir in Nicaragua.
The kids loved learning and we were able to leave 10 instruments there for the school.  

Reflections - Jesus Rested, and we should too.

Jesus napped. And we should, too.
Really - it's true! Jesus was repetitive about a lot of things like taking care of the poor, loving the outcasts, loving God and our neighbors.
Also, Jesus was pretty good about taking care of himself and knowing when he needed to go off in to the desert to pray and get some rest. Jesus, throughout the Gospels, sets a pretty good example for self-care.
This week, in the Gospel lesson from Mark, we read about Jesus making sure the disciples have time to rest as well. The disciples have reunited with Jesus and are excited to be with him again. Previously, Jesus had sent the disciples out in pairs to teach about God's love and heal people who were sick. Earlier in the sixth chapter of Mark (verses 1-6), Jesus tells them that on their journey they are to take no extra food, clothes, or money. They were told to stay where they were welcomed and leave the places where they were not.verses
So now in this week's passage they were returning to Jesus and were filled with stories about what they had done.

The scripture says they were in a really busy place and they couldn't even eat together there.
Jesus suggests, "Lets go to a quieter place where you can rest." Jesus and the twelve got into the boat and started off.
But the people saw where they were headed and hurried off ahead to meet them there. When they dock the boat, there is a large crowd gathered waiting for them.

If it were me, when I saw all the people gathered there waiting I would have been super annoyed. Think - "can't I get away for a while without being bothered? " But Jesus looks at the people and is filled with compassion. He felt the suffering that they were feeling. So, he sat down and taught the people many things about God. According to Mark, this happens again and again on both sides of the Sea of Galilee. In the later versus of this reading, they went by boat to Gennesaret and people were bringing other people to just to be healed. I am pretty sure that Jesus maybe wouldn't have reacted this way if he was tired and still wearing his cranky pants.

No matter where Jesus went - people found him. That is exactly why Jesus continually, throughout his ministry, takes time to rest. He goes off into the desert to pray. He disappears to the gardens to talk with God, rest and recalculate.

He could go to the cities, villages, and way out in the country and people followed him asking to be healed. Jesus healed everyone who touched him, the Bibles says. And I imagine that was a lot of people. Jesus knew that resting was needed from time to time so he could continue to teach and heal with love and compassion.

When we are feeling way too busy and overwhelmed - that's exactly when we need to take some time to rest. The busy schedule, people demanding your time, and all the things you are worried about will still be there after you take a time out. Let's be like Jesus and rest when we need it.

How can you make some time to rest this week?  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Reflections - Growing Up and Traveling Light

Read Mark 6: 1-13

The Gospel passage this week begins with us finding Jesus in a very relatable situation.  The people that knew Jesus when he was a boy are having a hard time seeing him as a grown up.

Yup, it even happened to Jesus. 

Jesus, when he was traveling around with the disciples and teaching, went to his hometown of Nazareth and went to the synagogue.  But things didn’t really go that well. The people just couldn’t think of Jesus as anything other than the little boy that once lived there. They didn’t listen to his teachings — so they left.
We've all be there - right? Our parents or people that have known us when we were young still see us that way.  They are not convinced that we can make a good decision or have anything to share that they don't already know.
Jesus and the disciples get frustrated and leave.  It seems like Jesus knows that what he needs to teach about God's love for the world is too important to waste time on people who won't give him a chance.  His time is limited. But I wonder how the story would have played out if he would have stayed longer and given the people of Nazareth a chance to see and get to know the person that he has become? 
Anyway, the second part of this passage tells about how Jesus feels an urgency to get his teachings out there so he decides that the disciples should divide and conquer.  The scripture says that after teaching in some small towns, he thinks of a plan.  He sat down with the disciples and asked them to choose a partner—and he would send them out in his name to travel to teach and to heal people.
And of course, the disciples give him some grief. They were very surprised and, as usual, they asked a lot of questions.
“ Do we know enough”
“Will we have the ability to heal people?” Common questions of anyone being sent to a job that they are not sure they are prepared for. 
Jesus said, “You have heard me teach and you will have the power to heal people.”
They felt a little better, but they were still nervous. 
Now, it's this next part that sends them over the edge.  Jesus says,“Don’t take anything with you but a walking stick. Wear sandals, but don’t put on an extra shirt. No food, no extra clothing, and no money.”
I know  - right?  
Jesus said “When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave that town. But if the town isn’t friendly to you, shake the dust from your feet and leave.”
Now, I am definitely an over-packer when I go on trips. Are you? I usually take way more than I could possibly wear or use - just in case I need something. I like to be prepared.  But here, Jesus is telling them to take just about nothing and rely on the kindness of strangers. My guess is that so all of that stuff doesn't get in the way of building relationships, healing the sick and the hurt, and spreading the message of God's love. 
The passage says they did what Jesus instructed. They stayed in the towns that welcomed them and left the ones that didn’t.  They taught about God’s love and they healed many people.

Maybe Jesus' plan here is to push the disciples out of their comfort zone and challenge them to have faith that they would be fine on their journeys.  Jesus sent them out with nothing so that they could really get to know the people they were going to help and heal.  He wanted to help the disciples create trust with the communities they visit.  Having to rely on their hosts for food, shelter, and creature comforts creates a mutual give and take relationship. 

This is a good lesson for us all. Jesus is teaching us in this passage that it is okay - good even - to rely on each other for things that we need and to be ready to share our gifts, talents, and things that we have. Especially if we have more than we need.  

What can you do to lighten your suitcase this summer?
What do you have that you can share with others?