Sunday School: Faith Formation
Thank you to everyone that joined us for Sunday School during the 2021/22 school year. Our sessions wrapped up on May 8. Stay tuned for summer activities coming soon and don't forget about Lutherdale Summer Camp opportunities. Details below.
Are you looking for the "Storybook Series with Deaconess Katie" videos? Find them on the Holy Cross Kids page.
May 2022 - Sunday School Faith Formation
by Amy Becker-Perez
Sometime this month, the ground will be warm enough to begin planting most vegetable and flower seeds. Some of us may know when to plant what, how to prepare the soil, and care for seedlings, when to prune, when to harvest—producing wonderful results. Others of us (ahem—like this writer), rely on others’ wisdom and expertise through books, family and friends or online, and then through trial and error try the best we can (which may only produce 2 meals worth of green beans at 10x the cost of what beans would cost at the grocery store).
One of the beloved parables we hear Jesus tell in three of our Gospels is the parable of the sower—in which a farmer scatters seed everywhere, whether or not the farmer is assured the environment is perfect for it. I read this as a promise that our generous God is always planting seeds of faith and love—with the hope that something will catch and take root.
When we think about our own faith lives, we may be able to think about the events and people who have helped enrich the soil in which our faith has taken root. Some may have offered their experience, a consistent practice or some structure to learn. Some may have given us community to practice faith, or opportunities to ask questions. Some events and people may have made us feel a little uprooted, but we can now see we were replanted into more nourishing soil.
As adults fostering the faith of kids, I wonder if our goal can be imagined as that novice gardener—sometimes knowing how to best tend the seeds, and at other times needing to rely on others and prayer. Helping others grow in faith may mean practicing certain aspects differently than you first attempt. As I seek to nurture faith in my own family, one of my consistent faith practices—bedtime prayer—has not been helpful (yet) for my kids. So, we pray at other times during the day. And, sometimes I’ll sing “He’s Got the Whole World…” with verses with our loved ones names and events for which we pray.
My point—each little seedling of faith, which is planted by God, may be best nurtured with different nutrients. Some kids do well with listening to stories or prayer. Others may best connect through serving others. Some may love singing or asking questions or even rebelling as a method of learning about God’s love (or, perhaps that’s what I tell myself to then try to communicate God’s love and grace even as I set boundaries). There is not one right way to nurture a child’s faith.
As we look forward to summer months, I pray for the ways God is blessing your work of tending to and nourishing the faith of kids, so that those seeds of faith may grow in love.
We continue to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with our final two Sunday School gatherings on May 1 and May 8. Please join us!
See below for Lutherdale Summer Camp opportunities.
Resources for Talking with Kids About War
by Deaconess Katie Freund
Dear Holy Cross Families,
With the heartbreaking conflict in Ukraine dominating our news it can be hard to know how to talk about the world's brokenness with our kids.
There is tremendous value in having difficult conversations with our kids, especially when it comes to topics that have no easy answers. When left to make their own assumptions, kids can think that anxiety or confusion is something only they are experiencing. The feeling of being with these feelings isn't good for anyone, especially children. You do not need to have the "perfect" answer, or even any answer, to be a valuable resource to children. We often underestimate how much comfort simple, open, and honest communication can bring. Believe it or not, simply sharing this moment together does a world of good in showing your child that they are not alone.
A few resources for families have been circulating this past week and I wanted to share them with you in case they may be of help.
The first is titled "A Kids Book About War" - it is written to be accessible for kids age 5 and older. It is provided as a free resource but if your family benefits from it please consider making a donation through the website to support Unicef or Doctors Without Borders. View the ebook at akidsco.com
The second is an article to help parents have faith-based conversations about this topic at home written by Charity Kauffman, the managing editor in Group's children's ministry department. It's an easy and short read that gives clear cut advice.
Read "Helping Children Process the Conflict in Ukraine" online at childrensministry.com
The third is a "30 Seconds" read from a clinical psychologist, Dr. Bethany Cook, titled "How to Talk to Kids About War". A big strength in this resource is how she quickly tells you how to assess where your child is at with what they may or may not already know of what is happening globally. Read it online at 30seconds.com
If there is anything we at Holy Cross can do to offer your family guidance or support (not just in this context, but amidst life's many challenges), please don't hesitate to reach out. DeaconessKatie@holycrosschurch.org
In the peace and love of Christ,
April 2022 - Sunday School Faith Formation
by Deaconess Katie Freund
We’re in the season of spring and celebration at Sunday School with Palm Sunday and Easter! We’re looking forward to having fun and celebrating with you!
Lutherdale Summer Camp Opportunities
Did you know that one of the largest common denominators of the faith lives of people in ministry is time spent with outdoor ministries (like Lutheran Summer Camps) in their youth? That’s one reason we’re encouraging our families to sign up their kids for “water weekend” at Lutherdale this summer!
For generations Holy Cross has been affiliated with Lutherdale, in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Lutheran outdoor ministries are a great opportunity for our young ones to not only have fun but also develop socially and in their faith. Our hope is for the kids of Holy Cross to make and strengthen connections with peers from our congregation by getting to spend time together beyond worship. We know that competition for scheduling is fierce in the summer, so rather than only offer one large program we’re working hard to make sure we connect you to resources to meet your needs and nurture the spiritual lives of your family. We’ll even be able to send a member of our ministry team up to Lutherdale to be with our congregation’s youngest members while they’re at camp.
Here are two weekends we particularly want to highlight for our members:
Water Weekend Summer Camp
Dates: July 15 - 17,
Ages: Grades K - 6
From Friday to Sunday, campers will develop new friendships and stay cool with a variety of waterfront activities, from the water slide to canoeing. Splash in the water and enjoy extra water activities all weekend! While the full cost of a weekend is $400, register before June 13 for the pre-summer discounted price of $250 for weekend programs! For more details and to register, visit lutherdale.org/event-details/water-weekend-1
Camp 24 Family Camp
Dates: July 30 - July 31
If “Water Weekend” in mid-July doesn’t work for you, there’s also the option for the whole family to go to camp together! “Camp 24
Family Camp” is twenty four hours together playing and praying together in God's creation! Families of all sizes welcome, the cost is $75 per person. For more details and to register, visit lutherdale.org/event-details/camp-24-family-camp-2
March 2022 - Sunday School Faith Formation
by Deaconess Katie Freund
This March we'll be kicking off the season of Lent by learning about how God always cares for us, no matter what. We'll start with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, and also look at Psalm 27 and a passage from the prophet Isaiah before finishing up with the parable of the prodigal son. Please join us!
February 2022 - Sunday School Faith Formation
by Deaconess Katie Freund
This February our Sunday School lessons are focusing on stories that highlight just how miraculous God’s love is! We’ll be learning about stories and teachings like the beatitudes, and the command to love our enemies, and Jesus being transfigured on a mountaintop. Focusing on growing intergenerational faith in our congregation is a great way to show God’s love for the least of these! Don’t be shy, come join us!
January 2022 - Sunday School Faith Formation
by Deaconess Katie Freund
Happy New Year families of Holy Cross! We left off in 2021 with celebrating the new liturgical year, and by now the calendar year has caught up.
On Sunday mornings (between worship services) we’ve been meeting with kids and adults all together in intergenerational faith formation. That sounds awfully fancy doesn’t it! Really it simply means that multiple generations have gathered and are interacting together. We’re hopeful that as our youngest community members are able to be vaccinated that our numbers on Sunday morning will grow—and when that happens we will revisit where we gather and what that looks like. But for right now we are focusing in and on diving deep into the lives of faith for our families. While we do love a good song and our scripture lessons, the focus is specifically on giving our families the tools they need to do the sacred work of growing together in the love of God. We’re starting again on January 9 at 9 am, and can’t wait to see you there!
November 2021 - Sunday School for Everyone
by Deaconess Katie Freund
Happy November Holy Cross worshipping family!
By now “Sunday School in the Sun” is definitely feeling more like Sunday School in the blustery fall leaves. We’re going to continue “playing it by ear” as to whether our intergenerational Sunday School will take place inside or outside on Sundays at 9 am. Our priority is balancing both health and safety as well as inclement weather, and the seasons are certainly turning. This is a very popular time of year, and for good reason!
Personally, I think it has some of the best food, but what gets me even more excited than delicious food (which is saying something) is that we are in the season of smaller holidays that aren’t quite as bombastic and commercial as the high holy days in December.
We are just now celebrating All Saints Day, remembering those who have crossed into eternity ahead of us. Before us lies a season of thankfulness and gratitude. The days are growing shorter and the temperatures are getting lower. It’s definitely a time for introspection, a bit more rest, and delicious hot beverages.
So I invite you to ask deep questions of yourself, but don’t forget to include the little ones in your family as well. Kids are wiser than we give them credit for and they are very capable of having meaningful conversations. These discussions are going to look different in each family and at every age, but it’s always worthwhile.
You can ask them who they miss most right now, or who they’re excited to see over the holidays. Check in with kids old enough to reflect on how life was “before” Covid, ask them how they are feeling almost two years into this global event. And what a perfect time to ask God’s children of all ages what they want to say “thank you” for.
As my family settles into life in Lake County, we have been reflecting on this sacred land created by God. Our two-year-old says “thank you” to her “new house”, (and she reminds us every day that it’s her house). Meanwhile my spouse and I are grateful for the lovely neighborhood we’ve moved into and the community we are entering. We also feel compelled to do our homework, learning about the indigenous peoples who lived here before us and were then displaced. How we frame this reality as a family is going to “grow up” with our own children as they mature and age, but this time of year offers the perfect opportunity for deep meaningful conversations. So whatever those look like in your family, fret not. Kids are resilient. Moreover, our youngest community members benefit from brave and loving conversations together even when we adults get a little squirmy.
October 2021 - Sunday School in the Sun for Everyone
by Deaconess Katie Freund
Hopefully you have noticed that we have been promoting Sunday School in the Sun for everyone and all ages. While our Sunday School might look a little different this year, it still has the exact same goal—to guide God’s children towards a rich relationship with the God who loves them.
Have you ever come across the phrase “intergenerational”? It’s not just a great word to play on the scrabble board, it gets to the heart of what community looks like in the Christian life. Our lives are so very compartmentalized; small children go to daycare, youth are separated by age into schools, adults are at work, and our elders are either navigating retirement with their peers or going through major life transitions alone. How often do we get to all be together in the same space and focused on being together? Our church community’s greatest resource isn’t our building or budget, it’s not even our staff or our programming. Our greatest resource is you.
We can tell our children that God loves them until we are blue in the face, but it is so much more powerful for them to get to spend time with members of the congregation who are living examples of God’s love. That is why we truly hope that our members of all ages will show up (on Sundays from 9 - 9:45 am) to participate in activities and music and whatever else we can dream up. No need to sign up, just come and bring the adventurous love of God with you.
Deaconess Katie Freund
October 2021 - Pray All The Way
by Amy Becker-Perez
Earlier this year my 4-year-old said he wanted to ask God something—so we prayed together. I started by saying, “Hi God, thank you for today. We have a question.” I then prompted my son to pray his question, asked if he had anything else to say, and then closed the prayer. A very short silence passed before my son expressed his great frustration that God wasn’t answering him.
After the frustration my son felt, I think I need to figure out some different ways to explain what prayer is other than “a conversation with God”—although it is that. And, I’ve thought I should try to find some other ways to practice and experiment with prayer with my kids.
Some possible methods to practice prayer I’ve found are:
· Sing a prayer. If you have access to an ELW, look up songs done by the Taize community such as ELW #751 “Oh Lord Hear My Prayer.” Or, perhaps you might be able to draw from some Bible Camp favorites like “I Love You Lord.” (I found some version of both of these on YouTube.)
· The 5-finger prayer. Each finger leads us to pray for a different category of people. The thumb—those closest to us. The pointer finger—those who teach us. The middle finger—those who lead or govern us. The ring finger—those who need help. The pinky—ourselves.
· Use our bodies to pray. There are a number of ideas in this article about how to use our bodies to pray: anglicanprayer.org/index.php/2017/04/14/involving-the-body-in-prayer/ Perhaps, similar to the 5-finger prayer, you can pray for different things with different postures. Perhaps you put actions to the Lord’s Prayer.
· Light a candle. For a while after getting the Holy Week at Home kits last Spring, one of my kids kept lighting the battery-operated candle when we read from his children’s Bible. Lighting that candle signaled it was time to read the Bible. The same can be true for prayer—and indeed is a common practice.
· Pray using the Psalms. Use segments of favorite psalms to pray together. Each night, my grandparents ended dinner with a devotion and prayer that ended with “Oh give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 106) Many psalms contain praises, laments, declarations of trust and hopes. Some good ones to begin with might be Psalms 46, 92 and 121.
· Make a prayer jar. Help your kids write the names or draw pictures of people or situations for which they might want to pray on slips of paper. As you put them in, pray for them. Keep the jar someplace accessible and encourage your entire household to take a paper out to pray for that person or situation from time to time.
I am positive there are other creative ways to help explore prayer with kids. And, I’m also positive that as I explore prayer with them, my prayer life will deepen too.
August 2021 - Back to School
by Amy Becker-Perez
While it may feel like summer has just begun, August has arrived. If you haven’t already, you will probably begin preparing for the upcoming school year. Unless you purchased one of the school sponsored supply kits, you may be working on gathering supplies for your elementary student’s new school year. Perhaps you’ll be adjusting bedtimes and getting up earlier. You’ll soon be finding out what teacher your child has and maybe they (or you) will be comparing notes with friends to find out who else is in their class.
As you prepare for the new school year, perhaps you can also prepare to go deeper in faith with your student in one (or more) of these ways:
- One of the ways Holy Cross will be supporting you and your student will be by providing a backpack tag and a blessing on Sunday, August 22 at both the 8 am and 10 am worship services. We believe that God goes with us wherever we go and a backpack tag can help our kids remember that God is with them and loves them in any of the situations they find themselves in this year. When you receive your tag, help your student put it on their bag and remind them that God is with them as they head off to school each day. (Learn more about Milestone Ministries here.)
- Perhaps you might start a new ritual like introduced through Faith 5, (which you may recognize as a focus from Holy Cross in previous years). The steps for Faith 5 are:
STEP 1: SHARE your highs and lows
STEP 2: READ a Bible verse or story
STEP 3: TALK about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs and lows
STEP 4: PRAY for one another’s highs and lows
STEP 5: BLESS one another
You can find more about Faith 5 here: faithink.com/the-faith5-steps
- As you talk with your student about their new year, perhaps you can help them pray for the various people who will surround them this year. Talk about those they know: other students, the teachers they’ve had before (like those who teach specials classes), their principal and other administrators, after school caregivers. Talk about those they don’t yet know: their main classroom teacher, new students, or students they just haven’t met yet. Pray for each of these people, and pray for your student and the situations they will be in this year.
Finally, you can remind your students that you are praying for them. This not only helps them know that you’re supporting them, but it also models how you practice your faith—giving them a path they can follow.
July 2021 - Baptism
by Amy Becker-Perez
Summer months often allow for frequent opportunities to get wet and play in water. From running through a sprinkler or watering a garden, to spending the day at the beach or a water park or a water day at daycare or summer camp, we are much more likely to walk around wet during these hotter months.
July’s focus for us (and our kids) to connect faith with everyday life is baptism. While the day of baptism is an important event, we can explore our faith more deeply by regularly remembering the promises that God makes to us, and the promises that we adults make for a child’s development as a child of God. Some refer to this as “walking wet.”
There are a lot of possible opportunities for helping kids remember God’s promise of new life for them (and us) and what it means to be baptized.
· When we’re rinsing sand off our feet after a day at the beach, or wiping a face after a delicious ice cream cone, we might note how baptism washes away our sin. Baptism helps us know that even when we make messes of things, God forgives us.
· As we travel or see people we haven’t seen for a while we can talk about how through baptism we know we are part of God’s family. We sometimes refer to God as a parent—and that means that we are connected as siblings in Christ to people all around the world. And, even when we can’t be with people for a while, we know that God is with them, loving them, just as God is with us, loving us.
· As we explain why we need to turn off the sprinkler or hear about changing weather patterns, we might also discuss how we are given responsibility to care for the earth. (In the baptismal liturgy, those who bring a child to baptism are entrusted with teaching the newly baptized to do many things, including “care for others and the world God made.”)
See below for a fun activity from the website vibrantfaith.org called “Walking Wet.”
Walking Wet by Christy Huffman from vibrantfaith.org
It’s summer—time for spending time in the water at the pool, the beach, the river, the sprinkler, or the bathtub. Take some time to remember your baptism when you are playing in the water.
Permanent marker or gel pen, colorful washable markers, spray bottle with plain water, poster board, glue stick
1. Offer this prayer as the family gathers for a water moment:
We give you thanks, O God, for the wonders of water and are ever grateful you have claimed us as your children in the waters of Baptism. Bless our fun today in the water you continue to give us. Amen.
2. Invite family members to tell something they remember about the baptism of another family member and/or about their own baptisms.
3. Encourage children to splash and play in the water. As they pour water over their own heads, invite them to shout, “I am a child of God!”
4. Invite the children to pour water over the heads of the adults as they shout, “I am a child of God!”
5. Tell how church leader Martin Luther once said, “When you wash your face, remember your baptism.” After spending time in the water, use a permanent marker to write this quote on a piece of plain paper.
6. Invite family members to work together to draw around the words with washable markers. Lightly spray the paper with water and watch the colors run together.
7. After your artwork dries, glue it to a piece of poster board. Display it near a sink in your home, to serve as a reminder of your baptism.
June 2021 - Jesus is With Us
by Amy Becker-Perez
For many kids, the summer months bring new and different experiences. As we hustle from one camp or activity to another, it might help to remind ourselves and our kids that Jesus is with us in each situation. How do we do that?
Buy a pack of cross stickers (or temporary tattoos) - and as you head out the door each morning, each person gets one to put on themselves.
Trace the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads before you leave for the day.
Find that cross necklace or trinket that you don’t wear and put it in your car so that you can see it each morning. The cross is there to remind you to pray together before you go your separate ways.
It might be enough just to remind kids (and ourselves) that Jesus is with us. But, this reminder might lead to a conversation about why that matters. Why do we remind ourselves that Jesus goes with us? The answer you give today might be different than your neighbor’s answer or different than the answer you will give in 10 years. There are no wrong answers.
Talking to Our Kids About Race
Part of our call as people who follow Jesus is to love others as Jesus loved, which included seeking to change the ways culture can hurt others.
In Jesus’ time, he challenged the ways in which the culture as it was did not allow for fullness of life for those who found themselves widowed, orphaned, or in a strange land. In our time, following Jesus’ example of love can include challenging ways in which the culture as it is does not allow for fullness of life for those who are “othered” for any number of reasons. The following resources give ideas of how to equip your kids (and yourselves) for loving others as Jesus loves them. Here are some ideas and resources to begin the conversation:
· There are a lot of books you can read with your child(ren). Your local public children’s librarian will most likely be able to assist you in choosing some for your family to read. One book that my family has appreciated is Something Happened In Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazard. Age range 4-8 year olds). Another one is When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner.
· Sesame Workshop has some great resources for younger kids. As a parent, I’ve found the articles helpful. sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/racial-justice
· Talk with your child(ren) about being an “upstander,” and maybe even practice how to be one. Here is a cute video that introduces how to be an upstander: youtu.be/eeqQCyQOCPg
· When you’re watching a show with your kids, pay attention to who the heroes and villains are portrayed to be. Talk about why that might be.
· For your own growth, join Holy Cross’ Antiracism Roundtable and Work Group, held monthly via Zoom.
Some of these ideas were collected from a three-session class called “Raising Anti-Racist Kids” led by First Presbyterian in Libertyville. View the recap resources on their website under Resources for Families at firstpreslibertyville.org/anti-racism/
An important take-away from Sesame Workshop: “As soon as children can ask questions, support their natural curiosity by answering them, even the most difficult ones (and it’s okay to say you want to think about their question for a while). Let them know that it’s okay to notice skin color and to talk about race. The idea is to make differences normal… and good!”
From a place of faith, we recognize that God has created these differences—and loves and celebrates them.