Incarnation families are gathering on Sunday mornings at 9:30am in Alcova Heights Park—or at home, or in another lovely natural spot—for a casual time of family prayer and nature exploration. Join us! This fall, we’re enjoying art, music, and nature together, and we’re looking at Jesus’ maxims or "great sayings." Here's this week's verse:
“be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48
What does perfect mean? Are you perfect? Have you ever had a perfect day?
Why, oh why, did Jesus say this? What do you think he meant?
How can we be perfect?
As always, we’ll be open to an interesting discussion! Can’t wait for the kids to bring me some insight on this one.
We know that neither we nor the world we live in is perfect. Kids who are older than six are now able to think abstractly about time, and they appreciate having a framework in which to place things and ideas. It might be helpful to make a timeline together of “The History of the Kingdom of God.” We will have materials to explore this in the atrium, eventually! For now, we can use paper and pencil to make a timeline with these markers:
Creation: which we’ll hear about in Sunday evening’s service.
Redemption: Jesus was born; He died and rose again!
Parousia: perhaps a new word for many of us! It’s the Greek word describing the time in which “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
Pause and take time to think about what that will be like. No more violence, no more sickness . . . (perfect)
Ask the kids to place us now, in 2020, on the timeline. This should fall somewhere after/in the time of redemption, before Parousia. (But let different placements lead to fascinating discussions.)
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
In our song this month, we can hear a longing for freedom, wholeness, shalom. Parousia!
Here are the words of the version we’re using:
CHORUS: Swing low, sweet chariot Coming for to carry me home Swing low, sweet chariot Coming for to carry me home VERSES: I looked over Jordan, and what did I see Coming for to carry me home A band of angels coming after me Coming for to carry me home If you get there before I do Coming for to carry me home Tell all my friends I'm coming, too Coming for to carry me home I'm sometimes up and sometimes down Coming for to carry me home But still my soul feels heavenly bound Coming for to carry me home The brightest day that I can say Coming for to carry me home When Jesus washed my sins away Coming for to carry me home
Wonder all week:
Beth gathered excellent links about the history of Wallace Willis, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Enjoy reading and learning for your own benefit, and to be able to chat about it with the kids.
They might notice that “Swing Low” lends itself to multiple layers of meaning. You could use the framework of Past/Present/Future to discuss: the Old Testament account of Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot; the situation of Wallace Willis who was a Choctaw freedman—an emancipated slave; and our own longing for Parousia, for the restoration of all things, for “home.”
At a recent Wild Wonder gathering, we enjoyed the call and response nature of this song. Take turns being the leader, singing the first lines of the verses, with everyone responding “comin’ for to carry me home.”
For the songwriters and poets: “Swing Low” also lends itself to adding our own personal verses and prayers. Write and plug in your own rhymed couplets, with “comin’ for to carry me home” in between. E.g.: “Jesus is a friend to me/I was blind, but now I see.”
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is highly singable, and many different artists have recorded it over the years. Kids may have fun searching around to see if any favorite singers have a version. (At our house: I like Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash!)
Beth also sent me her Gospel music favorites Spotify playlist, which we all should make the soundtrack for Sunday brunch. Enjoy!
If you don’t already, somehow incorporate singing into your family prayer time (whether that’s at meals, bedtime, in the morning, or something else). For those of us who aren’t expert singers or musicians . . . don’t let it stop you! Music is the most natural way for children to pray, not to mention a lovely way to connect as a family.
Some simple song ideas:
The Doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . . “)
Jesus Loves Me
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
God is so good
What other songs does your family enjoy? I’d love to hear and share with the group.