Letter

Letter to the Congregation Concerning The Nursery

by Lisa McCowen

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 19:14

Dear Holy Trinity Church family,

Think of the people in your early life that were physical examples of God’s love to you at church, people who read you stories or were a loving presence.  There is an opportunity for you to offer the same to our littlest members.  

You may have heard about some changes in our nursery care for little ones.  We are moving from nursery as a childcare service to our vision of the nursery as ministry, the beginning of catechizing little ones, showing them the love of Jesus and speaking the Word of God over them.

Parents and other adults of the church are significant in implementing this vision.  We are asking families who use the nursery to serve once a month and we looking for more adult parishioners to serve, too!  We will equip you; there will be resources ready: simple printed Scripture prayers for parents to pray over the children based on the lectionary Gospel reading for each Sunday.  (see below)

Church family, please prayerfully consider how you can support this ministry.  Your willingness to serve is a gift to the parents of young children, many of whom are actively serving our church in a variety of ways (here’s looking at you, Groves, Barfields, Bonners, etc.!).  If you are interested in serving once a month or even being on the substitute list for a last minute need, please contact Lisa McCowen.

Grace and peace to you,

Lisa

Example of Scripture prayer from this week’s Gospel reading (John 14:15-21)

Lord, may these children know Your Holy Spirit, may He abide with them and be in them.  May grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  May they grow to know, love and keep your commandments.  May they know the love of the Father and the Son; reveal Yourself to them Lord.

The Atrium — A Congregational Letter by Allison Martin

Dear Holy Trinity Family and Friends,

We just ended another season of Atrium with an early and joyful celebration of Pentecost last Thursday afternoon.  Liturgy, candles, prayers and songs filled the time and at the end, much to the delight and anticipation of the children, an array of red foods were laid out and enjoyed in recognition of the liturgical color of Pentecost.  

Atrium or Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an international Montessori-based approach to Christian formation that makes room for children to touch and experience instead of just being told.  What does, "The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed," mean to a child who has never seen or held a mustard seed?  And does holding a tiny seed in the palm clear up the mystery?  No, but it gives a starting place to Wonder and opens the door to begin understanding Biblical truths such as parables and lessons Jesus taught in a way that is tangible and meaningful.  It allows children to do what comes naturally to them and that is to get up close by touching materials each week--handmade child-sized representations of the Altar and vestments as well as hand painted figurines depicting everything from the Annunciation to The Last Supper and parables and to ask questions and ponder what it all means.   It gives them a chance to reflect on their baptism by hearing scripture and having water poured over their hand at a small font or to see a ribbon stretched the length of a football field in the lesson called La Fettuccia (The Ribbon) to illustrate the the history of the Kingdom of God.  Our catechist Nancy Robinson shared this lesson with the Level II children in September and the children and adults in attendance were amazed at seeing how long the ribbon stretched before humans were created.  

Children also have an opportunity to understand and experience liturgical worship in Atrium as well.  To see a five year-old child carefully and mindfully set the prayer table or pour wine and water into a small chalice or to learn about gestures such as epiclesis as a visual sign of asking for God's gift of the Holy Spirit during Eucharist is an altogether sacred thing.  When I see Fr. David do this each week I know the children watching recognize and understand what is happening.  I pray it helps them see the things we do in worship as significant and meaningful and relevant to them and that church worship isn't just an adult-only experience.

The rich philosophy of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd maintains that children, even very young children, have a religious life and that God is present to them in a deep way.  Atrium is a place to nurture that space in their lives that often remains hidden.  For our seven year-old son Oliver, I have found the lessons he experiences in Atrium naturally carry over into discussions during our worship and life at home.  He told me his favorite thing about Atrium is the lesson of the Empty Tomb and prayer time and I know he deeply loves our catechists Miss April (Manring), Miss Nancy (Robinson) and our interim Level II catechist Miss Jenny (Shaw).  I can see a continued budding of knowledge and a depth to his questions and thoughts regarding our faith in God.  He gets excited when he makes a connection between something he experienced at Atrium to something done at home or in Sunday morning worship services and many times I have seen him replicating these things at home.  There have been many a chicken or stuffed animal or Lego mini-fig around here baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Most profoundly though, I see in him and his prayers a tender love for Jesus, the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep--young and old.  

I have never stood in the center of a vast lavender farm, but I have held a small bouquet of the purpley-gray flowers in my hand and inhaled their incomparable scent.  In that I have an inkling the size of a mustard seed of the dramatic experience it would be to take in such a place of profound beauty with all my heart, mind and senses.  The same is true for what happens in the beautiful and lovingly created space that is our Atrium at Holy Trinity.  I pray all children would have an opportunity to come close to and sit with the lessons and mysteries of our faith in such a way.    

I’ll close with the words of Hebrew scholar Dr. Sophia Cavalletti who co-founded of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Rome in the 1950’s and said, "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."

With love,

Allison Martin


 

Claire's Last Letter

Share on the day I go to heaven.

Graduation Day

If you are reading this I am in the presence of our almighty God. I feel nothing but unconditional love. Overwhelming pure love. I am so humbled by all of you and wanted to thank you for all of your love and support throughout my battle with cancer.

Cancer was something that happened to other people but when I got it I knew there was a purpose and God would use it for good.

A few years back before cancer I shared with our small group that after I lost my Mom I became at peace with moving on from this life. There is so much comfort knowing that there is much more to our lives than this life on earth. Don't be sad for me but instead care for my dear sweet family. I loved them deeply with every ounce of my heart and soul. I never want to see them suffering or grieving so remember this is not the end.

Lift up my husband , daughters , sister, Dad and all my family. I was blessed with the best supportive family and friends anyone could ask for and my heart is so full. I was given over 37 incredible years with the love of my life David who is a quiet, easy going , kind ,loving, supportive husband who gave me nothing but unconditional love. I felt so very blessed by God to marry such a wonderful man. I was also blessed with two beautiful , kind, wise, loving daughters. Lindsey and Caroline are so much a part of my heart and I will always love them unconditionally. Being their Mom was the highlight of my life. I am so thankful for both of my son in laws Cam and Alex which are both a gift from God for my girls and our whole family. My sister Anne has been my best friend since I was born and she continued to show her overwhelming capacity to love me in both the good times and the bad times. Keep them all laughing Anne it's the best medicine. Also I was so blessed with the sweetest most loving church family and friends. This is not goodbye as I will see you all in a very short time. Be kind to one another and live your life to the fullness. Remember family , friends and fellowship are the most important thing we have in our lives. Enjoy all the art , music and beauty we have been given. Try not to sweat the small stuff because most of it is small stuff. Stay close to God and let him carry you in both the good and trying times. In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. I love you all. Claire

I Fought the fight.

I Finished the race.

I Kept the faith. 💋

Love,
Claire