Children and Youth Ministry Update from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato
Dear Park People,
I’m excited to be starting my very first Advent season with this community; getting ready to celebrate Christmas with the Sunday school children and families. On December 2nd, the first Sunday in Advent, we read Luke 21: 25-28, and discussed the ways that people prepare for Christmas, by making Christmas visible (trees, decorations; special clothes.) The children then made an array of Christmas ornaments, which they used to decorate the sanctuary Christmas tree after the service.
As the season goes on, our readings and discussions will focus on the reasons why we rejoice in this time, and the ways that we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, not only in an outward manner (all of the gifts and adornments) but in our hearts, especially the ways that we show Christmas love to the important people in our lives. With all of that in mind, our craft projects will revolve around expressing joy (making “joyful noise” jingle-bell bracelets) and love for others (making Christmas cards for our dear ones.)
On Pageant Sunday (December 23rd) the children will stay for the entire service, in the company of their Teachers, Ms. Glenda and Ms. Laura, and me. They will participate in the wonderful pageantry, with guidance and encouragement from their children’s ministry adults. I’ve never taken part in a pageant of this (unrehearsed; interactive) sort before, and am looking forward to an exciting, new experience.
During the 11 AM service on December 24th, the children will once again be in separate space (to be announced) and will celebrate Christmas Eve as a community , reading the Nativity story, singing Christmas songs, and partying together!
We continue to deal with the challenges of being an itinerant Sunday school, and are, to some extent, getting the trekking around, with Bibles, art supplies, snacks, and toys ,in rolling carts, “down to a science.” Still, I am very happily anticipating the time when we will finally settle in a permanent space of our own, which, I have been promised, will happen early in the new year.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the refrain from a somewhat silly, secular Christmas song, which gets a lot of airplay at this time of year: “I need a little Christmas, right this very minute…” While I don’t actually like that song, the sentiment resonates. There is so much literal and figurative “cold and dark” in December. This is especially true as we live through some of the most depressing and precarious times in this country’s history. I need (we all need) an antidote to the forces that might pull us down into pits of despair. That’s where “a little Christmas” comes in. And that’s where those of us who have children in our lives are especially blessed. Our little ones are Christmas personified. They are light, hope, creativity, and sweet; spontaneous joy. We are here to make Christmas as wonderful as it can be for them, and I am certainly striving to do that, for the Park Sunday school children, my step grandsons, Gavin and Connor, and for the many other children in my family-of-choice. I am also thankful, every day, for the Christmas spirit that their presence (the best present) brings into my world.
My Christmas wish list, for all of you, includes a sense of abundance, peace, freedom, hope, and plenty of happy magic!
Blessings, well wishes, and high hopes!
Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children’s Minister