Tag Archives: Lent

Who Tells God’s Story?

Watch and Wonder

The Woman at the Well
John 4: 5-42

 

Do Tell!

In this story, Jesus sees this woman, this foreign woman, this woman he has NO BUSINESS being with (“Jews and Samaritans do not share things in common!”)–he sees her and reflects back to her the story of her life. In turn, in being seen, she begins to see Jesus for who he is– she sees the story of God unfolding before her. “Could this really be the Messiah?”

Suddenly her story and God’s story are bound together. She runs off to her people to tell them–I have met a man who told me my story, a man who might just be the savior of the world. 

In being known by God, and in witnessing God’s work in Jesus Christ, this woman is compelled to tell God’s story. She becomes God’s story-bearer to the Samaritans. Hearing God’s story come from the Samaritan woman at the well gives it special meaning and purpose–in her telling it, we glimpse more fully what God intends for God’s kingdom.

If I have learned one thing in my time storytelling, it is this: the stories of God belong to ALL people, and should be told by ALL people. So when I was asked to put together an ensemble of first time storytellers for the NEXT Church national gathering of the PC(USA), I was thrilled. The more we can hear these stories told and interpreted by others, especially folks who do not share the same life experience, the more fully we are able to see God’s story.

Tell a Story

As part of your reflecting on this text, tell a story of a time you felt seen/known.

Reflect

  1. For what do you thirst?
  2. What does “living water” look like for you? What feeds and sustains you?
  3. Who in your life is able to tell your story?
  4. If you could tell God’s story in two sentences, what would they be?

 

Image courtesy of The Presbyterian Outlook from the NEXT Church National Gathering (2017)

Storytelling Lent 1

This post is a mash-up of previous posts on the story of Jesus in the wilderness for Lent 1. Though the stories told are from Matthew’s gospel (and we are in Luke this time around), they can still be applied!

WATCH and WONDER X 2!

This is one of my favorite kid-telling videos we made at our church. The wonderful Alex Bryant filmed and edited this one, which is why the quality is so great. My own children (who are not in the video) could not stop watching it. Got kids around? Share it with them!!!

Matthew 4:1-11
As told by Rev. Leslianne Braunstein

Thank you, Leslianne!!!

WONDER WORD

FASTING To “fast” is to intentionally not eat food as a way to become closer to God. Here is an explanation of the practice of fasting in biblical times offered by Bible.org: 

“The [Old Testament] uses fasting and abstinence from food to point to something even more necessary for life—communion with and dependence on God. Fasting behaviors were sometimes commanded, sometimes voluntary, and sometimes even ritualized, but the Hebrew Bible rather consistently portrays fasting in conjunction with themes of disruption and restoration. In the midst of disruption, fasting comes to symbolize hope. Through repentance and prayer, fasting can signify the centering of the self in humility, the renewal of the relationship to God’s sustaining force. As such, fasting takes on a dual significance of mourning and hope.”

Have you ever fasted? What was it like? What was the hardest part? Did it make you feel closer to God?

If you haven’t fasted, find someone who has and ask them about their experience! Better yet–try a fast yourself–even a brief fast might help you tell the story!

learn it BY HEART

Verbal Threads Look for the words or phrases that are repeated through the story. Click HERE for the text from Matthew and HERE for the text from Luke (thanks again to gotell.org). There is a lot of repetition in the story, which makes for great storytelling! I like to print out a copy of the story and with my colored pens circle and connect the verbal threads. What do you notice about the repetition?interlaced-herringbone-10

Giving VOICE to the devil I am always struck by what good things the devil offers Jesus. If he’s meant to be the savior of the world, wouldn’t it be great if he was well-fed and already ruled everything??? In order to consider how the devil sounds, you might want to think about (or tell a story about) what tempts you. Is the devil angry or…persuasive…or something else? What works better when one is trying to be tempting

Looking for CLUES What does Jesus look and sound like in this story? Consider what it would be like to fast for 40 days and nights…how might this have affected his speech or the way he stands? Was he hangry? (When I am hungry, I am almost always also short-tempered and angry.) Does he start off the same way he begins, or is he changed over the course of the story? (For example, does he start of weak and get stronger, or could it be the other way around?)

WAYS to WONDER

For all ages: STORY BOARDING This story has great visuals (some kids may need a bit of explanation from adults).

  1. Draw Jesus alone in the wilderness (consider…what is the wilderness?)
  2. Draw the temptation of the bread (consider…what do we “live by”?)
  3. Draw Jesus and the devil on the pinnacle of the temple (consider…how do we test our God?)
  4. Draw them up on a high mountain looking at all the kingdoms (consider…what things in this world are particularly tempting to you?)
  5. Draw Angels attending Jesus (consider…when have you felt God caring for you?)

Lent/Holy Week Stories!

Don’t forget to tune in to the special Holy Week series at StoryDivine.com! Here are links to the first two episodes!

Episode 11.1: Memory Reboot

 

Episode 11.2: Not I, Lord!

 

More Kid Videos!

Here are our final “kid telling” for Lent…as well as a few previous ones! Thanks to my fabulous church for their telling skills! 🙂

If you’re interested in doing activities around this story, check out my “Family Liturgy” post at Practicing Families.

The following videos were created by the children of the church, and filmed and edited by our the fabulous Alex Bryant. (Forgive my branding at the top–they are his, but I had to reload the videos onto  my vimeo site to link them appropriately!)

Nicodemus and the children: Lent 2 Stories and Stations

In case any of you are working on the RCL text this week–here are stations based on the FIRST HALF of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus along with our kid telling!

And check out Story Divine for a telling of the whole story!

WATCH and WONDER
Kids tell John 3:1-10, 16-17

This is a tricky story to have the kids tell–it’s hard for adults to understand! What I am learning from these experiences of putting the kids on video is that so much more of the learning of the story happens in the watching–not the participating. This is not surprising, but I continue to be surprised by how engaged the kids are in watching the story. I chose to leave out verses 11-15 because I thought it would be too much for the kids to do without a lot of unpacking. Normally when I tell stories, I do not omit verses. I also used the Common English Bible (CEB) for the telling. It is much easier for kids to speak aloud (and often for people to understand). On occasion, we changed some of the language to accommodate the kids, but I do not believe this sacrificed the integrity of the story in any way! Here is the CEB version of John 3.

If you want to hear the story told in full and begin to learn it yourself, see my previous post with links to Tim Coomb’s telling.

WORSHIP stations

Our worship stations this week included the following:

Lent prayer wall 2

Prayer wall (week 2): My husband and I constructed this prayer wall out of wood and chicken wire–then we painted it with chalkboard paint. Each week something different is written on it. Participants were asked to pray about something concerning birth, life, death, or new life–writing it one a slip of red paper (a new color each week) and putting it in the wall.Global Prayers (week 2): Last week we circled places we were praying for…this week participants were asked to write words that named the things that come into the world through the gift of God’s son.Lent globe prayers 1 Lent globe 2Water and Spirit: The notion of being born of “water and spirit” can be a bit…puzzling. Participants were asked to take a puzzle piece and draw an image of water or spirit. They were also asked to take an edge piece and write a word or phrase which described what it might look like to be born of water and spirit.Lent puzzles 2Lent puzzlesLent ROCKS: This week, remembering that Nicodemus recognized Jesus as a teacher from God, we used our rock words to teach one another. Each participant left a “teaching” for the next participant to read. (We had each person take a picture of their rock teachings.)

Lent rocks 2
Tell me a STORY: Our “story booth” continued with the recording of stories about “encounters with strangers.” Stay tuned for more info next week…we had one elementary school boy tell us about meeting his friend for the first time and their subsequent formation of the “Elemental Buddies.” LOVE.

We also played back our stories of birth, adoption, and new beginnings in the narthex. Amazing. (I hope to post some of these later…but I need some more time to edit!) Lent story stations

Finally, we set aside part of the sanctuary for telling stories of birth and adoption. Baby dolls were put out for the youngest kids. Folks were encouraged to tell their children stories of their births…and folks who did not come with children were encouraged to tell someone the story of their own birth or adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we also premiered our video.Lent video pic

 

 

Worship Stations for Lent: Part 2

Last year I posted information on our worship stations for our Wednesday night Lenten suppers…but I posted them after they occurred. This meant I could tell you about the stations, what went well, what didn’t–and you could see pictures. This year the only pictures will be borrowed from other sites that have done the projects–my own photos to be inserted later! My thanks to my colleague Patty Chamberlain and our Children’s ministry team members for brainstorming with me!

One final note–as these are for Wednesday nights beginning the week after Ash Wednesday, and focus on the scripture for the following Sundays–there is no “Lent 1″ section! Click HERE for Part I.

LENT 3
Story: Jesus and the Money Lenders
John 2:13-22

Recurring Stations

Look for a variation of these stations each week. In addition to these, there will be 1-2 “special stations” each week.

1. Story video

Thanks to the amazing Alex Bryant for filming and editing. 🙂 It was so fun to work with these kids again…especially noticing how the older ones have grown and changed…and inviting our newest recruits. LOVE THIS WORK.

2. Prayer WallLent prayer wall 2

Prayer prompt will say: “Jesus was upset because people were focused on themselves, and not on God. Write a prayer saying “sorry” to God. We call this a “prayer of confession.” When you are done, make sure to read what the wall says and remember you are forgiven!” (The wall will say: “God sees you, forgives you, loves you.”)

Supplies: Prayer wall (made from wood, chicken wire, chalkboard paint), red slips of paper, markers, instruction sheet.

3. Book Nook

Book nook pic

Featured stories: Enemies of Slavery by David A. Adler (8 & up) and The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack (4-8)

Thanks again to Storypath for their incredible resource! I have taken the description of the stories (written by Katie Todd) and put them in the inside cover of the books for parents to read and consider.

4. Tell Me a Story

Instructions: Tell a story about a time you were angry. Did people know you were angry? How? What did you do to calm down? (Got an idea for calming down, write it on a post-it note and stick it on the poster!)

Supplies: Poster-board, post-it notes, instructions

5. Sanctuary Sleuths

magnifying-glass-021114-ykwv1

Instructions:

  • Pick ONE card
  • Answer the question on the card by investigating the sanctuary
  • When you have the answer, write your name and the answer and place the card in the “answered” basket!

I also included Sleuth Levels

Below are links to the different levels (to be printed on corresponding sheet colors and cut out):
Pink Sanctuary Sleuths
Green Sanctuary Sleuths
Blue Sanctuary Sleuths

6. Making Crosses: Praying the News

Lent cross

Newspaper clippings/headlines are glued on large cross as we pray the news and remember that Jesus came to redeem all.

Questions to consider: How would the story you chose make God feel?

Supplies: Large wooden cross, Mod Podge, brushes, drop cloth, scissors, instructions, newspapers, magazines

 

 

 7. Pew Labyrinth

Labyrinthweekone

This station was the big winner last week…so we are putting a new one in this week. The picture to the left is of last week’s labyrinth. For last week, I had everyone choose a word to walk with on their labyrinth journey. This week I may have them all focus on one word.

 

Below is a drawing of my plans for this week. (There are places it overlaps, but we are limited by bolted-down pews!)Labyplansweek2

Supplies: blue painters tape…and lots of it!

 

 

 

 

New Station

8. With our Hands

Using an idea based on Beth Williams’ worship room at APCE, Patty Chamberlain used an old moving chalkboard, strung Christmas lights across it, then put pieces of white paper (the kind on rolls) on top (so that it is back-lit). Using somewhat transparent colored paper, participants will trace their hands, cut them out and write/draw based on the following prompt:

People in the temple used their hands to sell animals and lend money–taking advantage of those who traveled to the temple for Passover. Jesus used his hands to turn over the tables, to point them out the door, and to remind them about what God wants. On your hand cut-out, use words or pictures to show how YOU can use your hands to do God’s work.

The hands will then be glued on the wall.

Take a copy of the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila home with you–read it at least once a day this week as you consider how God is working through you.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

(Taken from HERE.)

Supplies: Christmas lights, large board, transparent-colored paper, scissors, glue sticks, instructions, large roll of white paper, glue

Pictures to follow!

HERE IS A PDF OF ALL THE INSTRUCTION SHEETS FOR THIS WEEK!
Lent 3 Worship Station Instructions

 

Worship Stations for Lent: Part 1

Last year I posted information on our worship stations for our Wednesday night Lenten suppers…but I posted them after they occurred. This meant I could tell you about the stations, what went well, what didn’t–and you could see pictures. This year the only pictures will be borrowed from other sites that have done the projects–my own photos to be inserted later! My thanks to my colleague Patty Chamberlain and our Children’s ministry team members for brainstorming with me!

One final note–as these are for Wednesday nights beginning the week after Ash Wednesday, and focus on the scripture for the following Sundays–there is no “Lent 1” section!

Recurring Stations

Look for a variation of these stations each week.
In addition to these, there will be 1-2 “special stations” each week.

1. Making Crosses
2. Prayer Wall
3. Book Nook
4. Tell Me a Story
5. Sanctuary Sleuths
6. Story video

LENT 2 STATIONS
Story: God’s Promise to Abraham
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

1. MAKING CROSSES
Fingerprint cross

Supplies: Watercolor paper, pen, wipes, ink pads
Prep: outline cross to guide fingerprint placement

 

(I found this picture on Pinterest!)

 

 

 

 2. Prayer Wall

Lent 5 prayer wallSupplies: Prayer wall (mine constructed of chicken wire and wood–painted with chalkboard paint), prayer prompt, small slips of paper (yellow this week), markers

On the wall: “I will be your God…”

Prayer Prompt: As God came to Abraham with promises for the future, write a prayer for your own future with God.

whoever you are3. Book Nook

Various books are there every week (general kids books about God). I used the amazing website StoryPath to choose special books for each week.

Featured story this week: Whoever you Are by Mem Fox. HERE is a link to the write up on the book. I may print out the write out and fix it to the inside cover of the book for parents to read, along with some discussion prompts.

4. Tell Me a Story

This station is simply a dedicated space for family, friends, or strangers to join in shared storytelling. This week’s prompt: How did you get your name? What does it mean? (There will also be a name dictionary available for anyone interested in looking up the meaning of their name.)

5. Sanctuary Sleuths

Each week there will be cards with clues about things people can find in the sanctuary. Each week more cards will be added. The idea is to especially engage the young children in learning about the space. I am guessing that plenty of the adults would also like to learn more about the space! (Still finalizing these…stay tuned.)

6. Story video

As we did last year, each week we will “premiere” a new storytelling video created by the children. This is just a space saver for the video–which will be inserted when it’s made!

7. Blessings and Starsglowing stars

Though our particular story is not the one about God asking Abraham to look to the stars, we thought it would be cool to give each participant a glow-in-the-dark star to take home as a reminder of God’s promises. A pastor will stand with a bowl of stars behind a kneeler…participants will be invited to come and receive a blessing and a star.

Supplies: glow in the dark stars, kneeler (optional), someone to do the blessing

 

8. Prayer labyrinth 

Prayer Labyrinth 1-27-07_Layout 1

I found this labyrinth on Pinterest (where else???) and I’m hoping to do a version of it weaving through the pews of the sanctuary. HERE is the post from which the idea comes!

Supplies: Tape (that won’t hurt the floors), Laminated signs with prompts, Instructions for the beginning of the labyrinth

Something Lent-ish This Way Comes…

While it feels we’re hardly out of Advent, I know many churchy types are thinking about Lent. HERE is a round-up of what we did last year with story videos and worship stations. I will be posting more ideas for this year’s lectionary-related story stations in the coming days. Stay tuned!

well 1

Raising Lazarus through Story (Kids tell John 11)

WATCH and WONDER

Kids tell John 11:38-44

 

WEEK 5 WORSHIP STATIONS

Our texts for this week were Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:38-44. Along with watching the two story videos, the worship stations focused on God “making all things new,” (Rev. 21:5). 
It was sort of a catch-all kind of night…as it was to be our last supper for the season, we wanted to incorporate something of Holy Week and Easter.

dry bones kids

CREATIVE LISTENING While watching Ezekiel 37, kids were invited to draw in the aisle. I explained to them what I had experienced at the NEXT Church conference thanks to the incredible pastor/artist Shawna Bowman. At the close of my NEXT talk, as I told a personal story and Ecclesiastes 3, Shawna created. I wanted the kids to have something of this experience. We put paper and crayons down the center aisle, away we went!

Dry bones art

 I think it was helpful that they had heard the story already the previous Sunday. It was also discussed in the children’s time during worship (though this somehow morphed momentarily into a discussion on zombies).

 

PRAYER WALL In our final week, we did not write down prayers…we offered prayer for prayers. Each person was invited to take down a few prayers from the wall and plant it in the soil in our flower pots. Flowers will be planted on top of the prayers. (At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, prayers are periodically removed and planted in the ground.) When planting, people were invited to  pray for others and ask God to make us all new. (I kept the stations a little more simple this week…watching two videos would occupy more time than usual.

Lent 5 prayer wall

STORY TIME Participants were invited to tell each other stories of Easter. (Yes, it’s that simple–just tell a story.)

GLOBAL PRAYERS At the right is a poster that I made with the kids at the start of Lent (in our Sunday school Making all things new posterprogram)–the idea was taken from Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry. The poster was displayed above our “Global Prayers” station.

New Earth GlobeFor our Global Prayers this week, participants were invited to coat the world with glitter-filled Mod Podge while thanking God for making all things new.

ROCK WORDS For our final week with our rocks, participants were asked to pick a rock word and take it home with them–placing it in a plastic Easter egg–to be hidden and found on Easter morning.

PATCHWORK “QUILT” Someone randomly dropped off a huge bag of paint chips for church school. We decided to make something new–a paper quilt. Everyone took a square and drew symbols of Easter. The quilt will be displayed on Easter morning.

LAST SUPPER We actually made this during our intergenerational education experience the previous week, but it was finished and displayed for the worship station time–and I just love it. Kids were invited to paint themselves into the Last Supper scene. I used three large canvas pieces and painted a table at the bottom and Jesus in the center. I then penciled in circles for heads (just to give some placement help to kids). I wasn’t in the room when they added themselves in (as well as a sun!)–when I saw their finished portraits, it took my breath away. This was a wonderful activity that definitely could have been done as a worship station. Because they are on canvas, we can always add another leaf to the table…I think Jesus would like that.

Last Supper kids Painting

I am done with the children’s videos for a while, and going back to the story-learning blog format…but I am sure the kids will be back to tell more stories soon enough!

 

Can these stories live?

WATCH and WONDER

Ezekiel 37:1-14
as told by David Aland

that ALL should TELL

Dave is a member of the congregation I serve. As you can see, he is awesome. This Lent, we have had storytellers in worship each Sunday–and none of them have been me! It has been awesome to watch others tell. They all bring their own talents and voices, which adds so much to our worship experience. It is incredibly important to engage OTHERS in the telling of biblical stories. It benefits the whole church. (I am hoping to get to record the other congregants who’ve told soon!)

The story itself is a beautiful but strange one. Dave was trying to tell it in a way that captured the text’s mystery, but didn’t sound ridiculous. (As far as I’m concerned he succeeded in every way.) But when he first approached the text, he could not help but want to go to crazy-prophet-mode. So in his preparation, he went ahead and entertained his family by telling it in his crazy-prophet-voice so that he could get it out of his system. He is right on the mark–when you are preparing to tell a story–try out lots of different ways of telling. Sometimes it will help you overcome blocks. Sometimes it will lead you to unexpected truths. Who knows what truths you will uncover along the way….

 

The Children at the Well: Lent 3 video and stations

WATCH and WONDER

Kids tell John 4

I had very limited recording time this week–and the woman at the well story is about 40 verses–so this is our abridged version! To put the story into context, I added some commentary at the beginning and end. I prefer not to interfere with the kids’ magic, but I also wanted to put the story in context. Because of the lack of time, I was also forced to film quickly–which meant a lot of choppy shots! I used some repetition to try to adjust. As we create these videos, more ideas are coming to mind about how best to prepare for them–but these ideas will probably not be enacted until after our Lent videos are done. 🙂 HERE is a link to the full story.

I was thrilled this week to get an email from our wonderful missions staff person who wanted to know if it might be possible to have some of the kids from communities (national and international) that we support help to tell these stories. YES!!! People are talking about ways this sort of format might connect people–it is truly exciting.

WEEK 3 WORSHIP STATIONS

FILMING! This week, in lieu of recording stories in our story booth, we filmed a new story to be debuted on Sunday during worship (this will help give the whole congregation an idea of what is happening on Wednesday nights). We used both adults and children to tell the story this week–stay tuned!

GLOBAL PRAYERS Our prayers with the globe continued this week as we focused on water issues throughout the world. World Water Day was on March 22, and since our story was about the meeting at the well, I could not think of a more appropriate focus. I displayed water fact sheets I found through www.unwater.org concerning water issues throughout the world. I also included some samples from their  Children’s Letters to Ministers PDF. The participants were asked to draw droplets of water on the countries they would be praying for this week.

THE WELL Using scraps of material from our storage, I turned the baptismal font into an overflowing well. well 1 well 2Inside the font I placed paper droplets of water with words on them. Instructions were as follows:

  1. Remember that Jesus Christ offers LIVING WATER for our deepest thirsts.
  2. Approach the “well” and take a drop of water from the font.
  3. Use your water word to reflect this week.

Here is the link to my PDF of the drops: take what you need water drops

glad we met 1

GLAD WE MET Jesus is a stranger to the Samaritan woman, but because of their encounter, her life is transformed. At this station, people will encouraged to write a note to a person they are thankful to know. We provided cards, envelopes, and offered to mail them for those with addresses on hand.

Gushing up

GUSHING UP! Jesus said, “The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14)

Jesus’ gift of “living water” is something that becomes a part of us. He says it will “gush up” in us! At this station I attempted to have people begin to create the water gushing up with their fingerprints. My idea was to then draw in a figure with lifted hands (as if behind the water)…they were supposed to stay within the lines (see image on left, where I have drawn said lines).

gushing up 2

 

Yeah, that did NOT happen (see totally out of control image on right)! At first I was trying to think of ways to “fix it”–but the truth is, they made the water truly gush up…despite my trying to control it. Somehow I’ll get a person in the picture…a person bursting with living water!!!

 

STORY BOOTH Finally, we had our story booth stories–focused on stories of meeting. These are terrific. You can find them for a limited time here. Special thanks to Alex Bryant for editing these!