We imagine and long for a future in which all world religions will peacefully coexist, and we suffer under the pain of knowing that one of the greatest scandals of religion is that we too often find ourselves at war with each other. Imagining the future is a critical prophetic task of religion and all faith formation programs should have an eye on our ultimate future: the peaceful reign of God. Every once in a while, something happens that captures the future with a powerful concrete symbol. When it does, faith formation leaders can take advantage of it as a teachable moment.
For centuries, religious people from Hindus to Buddhists to Catholics have been using prayer beads. Now Protestants are adopting prayer beads as a spiritual practice.
The word bead comes from bede, which means prayer. “For those who struggle with how to pray—or what to pray—prayer beads can provide much-needed structure,” writes Kristen Vincent in her book: A Bead and Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads.
Hopefully, (a long time ago) we have moved beyond parent meetings which tell parents all the “stuff’ they need to know to “get through” the year, e.g. dates, times, Baptismal certificates to turn in, etc. (things they can read on their own).
Perhaps, though, we are still in the phase that parent meetings - especially at sacramental times - are focused on the children approaching the sacrament for the first time; catechesis is given to parents about what is happening to their child. For all practical purposes, we prepare the child for the “holy thing” and explain to the parents the meaning of it for the child. The end result of this approach is that often a child’s experience of the sacrament is his/her last participation in the community until another event arises, such as preparation for another sacrament.
This Spring, you probably celebrated the seniors who graduated from High School and are headed off to their next adventures. Their adventures may include a job, the military, community college, college, or something unknown. Regardless of where they are headed, staying in touch with them and letting them know you are still thinking about them, holding them in prayer, and looking forward to seeing them is important. Just because they graduate, does not mean that they graduate from the community. But how does one stay in touch? Here are my top 10 ways that I have found to stay in touch.
An 89-year-old is encouraged by her teen-age mentor to create a YouTube cooking video. When a 92-year-old declares that still has all her teeth, her teen-age mentor turns her statement into a rap song for the video.
This is just one episode in an inspiring, warm and touching documentary, Cyber-Seniors directed by Saffron Cassaday, in which a group of companionable teenagers serve as mentors to many elders, helping them to jump into the use of social media and today’s technology.
If you want a better youth ministry, pay attention to author John Green.
Many teenagers follow John Green closely. John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars has been made into a movie and currently is showing in movie theatres. Many teenagers not only read John Green’s books, but they also visit his YouTube channel—and often subscribe to it.
If you know John Green, you also know he has a brother, Hank Green, and the two of them are revolutionizing an entire generation of young people. How? By listening to them. By challenging them. By being entertaining. Effective youth ministry can learn a lot from John Green.
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?” (Luke 11:11-12, NRSV)
Parenting was less complicated in the first century. These verses from Luke indicate that there was wide agreement among parents about what to give and what not to give to their children. That’s really not the case today. Parenting options are so abundant and there are competing voices in the culture about what kinds of things and experiences children should have. Your pediatrician might recommend one thing. The Disney Corporation has another opinion. Your kids’ friends often act like expert advisors. The sports world has another agenda, and then there are the criminal elements eager to weigh in as your children move into adolescence. Parents are often confused and isolated among this chorus of voices.
Recently I attended an E-Formation event at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. It was a wonderful opportunity to become familiar with the many choices we have today when it comes to social media. From Pinterest to Face Book to Instagram to Vine to Snap Chat, one can get lost, confused, and struggle to choose which is the best way to stay in touch and connect with others via social media.
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