One lunchtime while we were visiting my family in Memphis this July, a sudden afternoon thunderstorm burst open, watering my mom’s lovely green yard. We must’ve had a window open—I remember enjoying several unseasonably cool days during our visit—and the kids and I sat quietly at the kitchen table for a moment, listening to the rain. Then Jack shook his head slightly as if amazed, heaved a little sigh, and declared, “I love God.”
That’s the moment—freeze it, bottle it, put it on the shelf like a trophy. If we didn’t do or learn anything else good during corona summer, we spent some time enjoying God’s creation!
I’m joking about the trophy. But you get it. We parents and adults crave a checklist or some kind of test to make sure we’re achieving something-or-other. Unfortunately—fortunately!—that’s not how God’s love works. God’s love is here for us no matter how well the kids are doing with our checklists.
Here’s something we can do: keep on keeping on. Continue to make time and space to pray and enjoy God’s word together, and to receive and enjoy God’s many gifts for us.
This September, October, and November (on the church calendar: until Advent!), we’ll continue to enjoy being outside together at Wild Wonder family prayer—Sunday mornings, 9:30, at Alcova Heights Park.
We’re also throwing in a few more common reference points: a song that our whole church will be learning, and a painting for all of us to look at and enjoy.
Don’t panic; this isn’t like a school assignment (although if it sparks an interest, you’re very welcome to go do some research and check out all the library books). Each week over the course of the fall, I’ll be sending more info, links, and ideas about engaging with our art and song selections.
But for this week, start small:
Listen to “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as a family. The main objective: sing together! (Big thanks to Jamie—AKA “Ben’s dad” in our house—for recording this for us.)
Save Jacob Lawrence's painting, Brownstones, somewhere: set it as your desktop wallpaper or screensaver on your computer, device, or TV. (Or old school: print it.) Again, we’re not going for anything elaborate; just look at the painting together. What do you like about it? What do you notice? There’s plenty of fun detail in this one.
At Alcova Heights on Sundays, we’ll be asking the kids to take a greater part in planning and leading prayer time—like choosing songs, art, and scripture readings. We'll look at some short sayings of Jesus and think about them, beginning with this verse:
I give you a new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34
At home, too, kids can help plan family prayer, according to age and interest. For example: setting up the space, lighting a candle; selecting art or making a prayer card; leading songs; selecting a Bible reading; praying in silence, out loud, reading a written prayer.
I’m looking forward to developing our own expressions of family prayer time this autumn—as a group and as individual households. I hope we can slow down to enjoy art, music, nature, and time together . . . all these good gifts God gives us.
Please, please holler at me with your questions and ideas!