Category Archives: Blog

Advent Intergenerational Event 2015 – Year ‘C’

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The beginning of Advent is a wonderful time to gather the whole church family together to learn and celebrate together the beginning of a brand new church year and begin to anticipate and prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

Intentional inter-generational events are among the best activities a church can have to help all of our members grow in faith and in faithful relationships across all ages. When we share our rich stories of faith with each other we help our younger members learn from those they look up to and provide opportunities for our older members to experience anew the wonder and awe of our children. Together we build meaningful cross-generational relationships that lead to life-long faith formation.

This Intergenerational Event has been designed to not only provide and opportunity for faith sharing and learning, but also to provide resources for all of our families to continue to learn and worship together at home through the ritual of lighting an advent candle each day of advent and doing age-appropriate family devotions together. Together the congregation will share in a meal, learn about the history and practice of advent, get to know each other a little more, make an family advent wreath to take home, be supplied with an advent devotional booklet, and practice the ritual of lighting the wreath, reading and praying as a family at the event so they’re ready to carry it on day-by-day as a family when they get home.

This event is designed to happen on the first Sunday of Advent following worship or in the evening, or on a weeknight during the week before Advent. Here’s what your Advent Event could look like:

Share with a Meal (45 minutes) A potluck meal makes it easy for everyone. You may wish to ask families to bring a seasonal family favorite. Is there a food they always eat when they decorate the tree? wrap presents? have extended family members over? You may wish to put on some hot apple cider or hot chocolate for everyone to enjoy the scents of the season. Whatever works for you church with the emphasis on easy and enjoyable.

Invite families to sit together at this meal, but make sure a broad cross-section of ages are represented at each dining table. Decorate the tables festively and place some discussion cards on each table with fun Christmas questions such as: What is your favorite Christmas carol? What was the best Christmas gift you ever received and why? What is your favorite Christmas cookie and who makes it? Who’s coming for Christmas this year? What do like to eat at Christmas? Encourage tables to get to know each other a little more through these questions and chat about Christmas’ past and the joy each has brought.

Intro to Advent (10 – 20 minutes depending on the age of the group) While everyone is still at their tables take some time to introduce the theme of Advent to the group. Rather than delivering a lecture on Advent you might want to pick some of the more interesting points about Advent an print one point per piece of construction paper, cut each piece of construction paper into a 6 – 8 piece jigsaw puzzle, and place each jigsaw puzzle into an individual envelope. Distribute the envelopes of puzzles to the table groups and have them assemble their puzzles to discover exciting things about Advent for themselves. Have each group share what they have learned with the whole group.

Here are some interesting things to know about Advent:

  • Advent is the beginning of the church year
  • Advent means ‘to come’
  • Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas
  • During Advent we ready ourselves for the birth of Christ, the coming of Christ into our lives, and for the return of Christ
  • Advent is season of expectation, anticipation, preparation
  • Advent was originally a season of penitence and has become a season of joy and celebration in modern times
  • The colour of Advent is either purple or blue, depending on the congregation’s choice
  • The bible is filled with references to Christ as the light of the world. We light Advent candles to remind us that Christ is coming as light and as the number of lit candles increases as we get closer to Christmas we see that the light is growing brighter week by week
  • The evergreens of the advent wreath represent life and growth
  • The circle of the Advent wreath have no beginning and no end, as Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end
  • The four coloured candles of the Advent wreath represent the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy (sometimes represented by the colour pink) and Love.

Make An Advent Wreath (30 minutes) Each household should make an Advent wreath together to take home with them. The instructions for a beautiful and easy, fresh Advent wreath are included in this file. If there are  families who might want to make more than one wreath, they might make additional wreathes for shut-ins.

Worship Together (15 minutes) As families begin to complete their wreaths gather the whole group together and distribute the Advent devotional booklets included in this file. Explain that Advent is a wonderful time to begin a new family tradition together and that lighting the advent candles and reading scripture/stories together is a wonderful ritual to bring into their homes. As a whole group complete the first day of Advent devotions as it is written in the devotion booklet. You may wish to include a couple of Advent hymns to you worship.

Thank the families for attending and remind them to repeat the devotion that evening and continue through their devotional booklets at a consistent time each day.

Click here for instructions on making an Advent wreath

Click here for a pdf file of the Advent Devotional Booklet for 2015, Year ‘C’

When you open this file it will appear out-of-order. The file has been saved for you to print and then photocopy back-to-back, assemble, and then fold and staple as a booklet down the middle. You can also also print the booklet 2-sided, fold and staple as a booklet down the middle.

Introducing The CNOB Vacation Bible School Resource Lending Library

Children holding a heart shape

I am grateful to Knox Presbyterian Church in Guelph for cleaning out their attic and passing on to me a variety of VBS resource kits that they’ve used over the years. With this kind gift I am now able to begin a small but mighty VBS resource lending library for churches to save a bit of money while hosting a great Vacation Bible School at their church or in their community. If you wish to use one of these resource kits you are welcome to do so, knowing that each of them comes from a past season and therefore comes ‘as is’, without the possibility of ordering publisher pre-packaged craft kits, give-aways and student booklets. Many of our churches already avoid these ‘extra’ kinds of purchases already. Please know that every resource kit in the library already includes excellent directions for crafts and lots of activities making the packaged craft kits, give-aways and student booklets often redundant. So with just the VBS introductory kit from the lending library you should be good to go.

You will find a list of the available resources linked at the end of this blog post. With each listed VBS resource kit you will also see noted the overall theme of the curriculum, daily themes with accompanying scripture references, and details of every item the kit contains. I hope this will help you in making a resource selection suitable for your church.

If you would like to borrow a resource from the library to use for your Vacation Bible School, Professional Development Day programming, or for mid-year school break activities please contact me to find out if your resource of choice is available for the time you require it. Once I have received the request I will confirm the kit can be loaned to you and I will then try and use the Presbyterian people connections we share to pass the resource on to you as soon as possible while also trying to avoid shipping costs (I have no budget for shipping). You are welcome to keep and use the materials for as long as you need to prepare for and carry out your event, but please do not lose or destroy any of the materials you receive so that they might be used again and again by other churches down the road.

Once you’re done with the materials please contact me and once again we’ll try and get them back to the synod office in Toronto through the people we together know who might be travelling in this direction or as I travel just by your door as I tour the synod.

Finally, if you are busy cleaning out your church attic and are wondering what you could do with those very useable VBS kits you have taking up space at your place, please know that they could be used helping other churches this summer and beyond. If you’d like to donate them (even if they are duplicates to ones I already have) thank you and please let me know and I will figure out a way of picking them up from you and getting them into the Resource Lending Library. I am also hoping to build up a library of intergenerational materials as well, so feel free to keep that on your radar and pass things along when you’re done with them.

Thank you to Knox, Guelph for providing the beginnings of this very helpful ministry to the churches of our synod. Now let’s welcome the children for some exciting ministry opportunities throughout the synod.

Blessings, Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation, Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda

To borrow a kit please contact me at torismit@gmail.com or call 647-348-0879

Click here to view the VBS Lending Library Resource List

Report on Synodical Annual Meeting and WMS Council Meeting

Our synodical president, Joy Randall, has written a letter to all groups letting us know about the events and decisions of the 2015 Synodical Annual Meeting and the Biennial National Council Meeting of the WMS held this spring. This letter was circulated to all presbyterials for their distribution to all the groups in their bounds.  If you did not receive the letter, or wish to reread the letter, it has been attached to this blog posting.

Also, included in this blog posting is the booklet of reports to the Synodical Annual Meeting so you can read about the work of the groups and presbyterials of the synodical and see the wonderful things that so many are doing.

Click here to see Joy’s letter re the Synodical and Council meetings

Click here to see the Annual booklet of reports for the 2015 Annual Synodical meeting

Be Strong – Be Courageous: A study on Joshua 1:1-9

The Presbyterial of Kingston met recently and considered the theme “Be Strong – Be Courageous” in mission and in bible study.  The following is a short study on the passage from which the presbyterial found their theme.  Take some time to reflect on the passage itself.  What words and phrases leap off of the page for you?  What questions do you have about the circumstances of Joshua’s call to lead the people of Israel into the promised land?  What are the challenges ahead of him?  What will be the key to his success?

Then go ahead and read the brief commentary following the passage and consider the questions that follow.

You will then be invited to pray using one or more of the prayer practices included.  Each practice invites us into contemplation and consideration of the our own need for strength and courage and the needs of those around us and throughout the world.

Click here to download the Joshua study

Click here to download a map of the world to use with the Joshua study

Are You Looking For Something to Read?

DSCN0297Have a look through this reading list prepared for the 2015 annual meeting of the WMS Synodical of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda. You will find some great children’s reading books, some key Christian education texts for church leaders to consider, and some wonderful addition options if your group is looking for some additional study materials. I hope you will find something for yourself and something for a leader in your church community to enjoy and grow with. Happy reading!

Click here to open the reading list