Children and Youth Ministry Update from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato

May 15th,2020 Categories: Latest News
Dear Park People,
On Sunday, May 10th, we began our  Sunday school check-in time by talking about Mother’s Day, and things that the children had done, to celebrate their mothers. Some had made breakfast (home-baked muffins!) There were Mother’s Day cards and drawings, of course. But my favorite response to the question about what children had done to show love for their mothers was “We let her sleep as long as she wanted to!” Such gifts of understanding and consideration are, truly, the best.

During our formal study time, we continued reading the story of the prophet, Nehemiah; about the destruction and desolation that he found when he went to Jerusalem, and his message to the city’s leaders, about the need to rebuild, and help the people there. Relating this story to our own experience, we talked about the helpers who are enabling all of us, in our struggling city, to get through this difficult pandemic time. We then wrote a letter, with words contributed by all of the children, to send to the TV news station, New York 1, as part of their “Messages of Support” campaign. I emailed the children’s letter (signed “The Children of Park Avenue Christian Church”) to the station yesterday. Hopefully, it will be read aloud on the air soon, to give hope and encouragement for frontline workers. I will let the community know if I hear anything from New York 1, about when that might happen.

On Sunday May 17th, we will read Nehemiah 3-4, about the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. This story recounts the ways that people cooperated, in order to get the hard work done; taking turns doing the building, and standing guard to protect the builders. We will talk about the things that we can do, in our activity, and in our stillness (taking turns) to help our own communities. “They also serve who watch and wait.” Children are doing a lot of that, these days, and it isn’t easy, but it is meaningful, and I will be striving to help them understand that and express it, as we create our own prayers, for patience, kindness, and loving presence.

It has been said that we “preach the sermons that we need to hear.” While planning these lessons for the children, I realize that I’m doing that. As a native New Yorker, who loves the vibrant life of my city, so much, I struggle with the sense that I am now living in what seems like a very small village, consisting of the park, where I walk with my wife, Lynn, and the couple of nearby stores where we shop for necessities. I try to remind myself that I am actually doing something helpful for others, by living my life within these small boundaries, and never leaving the apartment without a face covering. As I collaborate with the children, on those prayers for patient; loving waiting, I will hope to find my own strength and inspiration, for the challenges ahead. Those hopes are for you – adult members of this community – too. May we find some timeless beauty and wonder, apart-and-yet-together, in this strangely time-warped time…

Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam) Fortunato: Children’s Minister