Why did Jesus go to hell?

Tonight we’ll continue our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We’ll be exploring the idea of Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our Lord. This week kids will have an opportunity to experiment with the definition of hell what that says about God. As we begin to look at the stories of God experiencing the deepest darkest parts of being human, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Why did Jesus go to hell?

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Does God still create stuff today?

Tonight we continued our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We are exploring God the Father as the Creator. This week kids will have an opportunity to consider God’s presence in creation and recreation and discover what it might mean for them to be co-creators. As we begin to look at the stories of creation throughout scripture, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Does God still create stuff today?

The “first person” of the Trinitarian God is known primarily as Creator. Indeed, the entire biblical narrative begins with two accounts God’s creation of the cosmos and of human kind – both of which served to set the monotheism of the Israelites apart from the polytheistic creation stories of their neighbors. No matter how one reads the creation accounts – be it literally or more figuratively – the message is clear: God and God alone is the author of everything that exists. When God rests on the seventh day, according to the first narrative, it suggests that a particular mode of God’s creative activity has ceased.

However, the second narrative suggests that when Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, a new mode of creative activity begins; Adam is to work to cultivate crops, and Eve will bring forth new life from her body. In each case the creative act is made possible by God, but human beings are now called upon to cooperate with God in God’s creativity. This being the case, the Christian witness testafies to a God who relies upon human participation in the creation of new things, be they works of art, medical advances, the birth of a child, or even the emerging kingdom of God’s grace in Christ.

We started of this week’s lesson by posing the main question to everyone in the room and asked them to move around the room to a sign that matched their answer. Then we turned to scripture and explored six separate stories from both the old and new testaments that feature God’s creative power. Then as small groups we created our own artistic interpretations of the Genesis 1 creation story.

This week’s Take Home Activity asks students to go on a walk, either inside or outside, and look for examples of things God has created. They will be asked to consider when things transition from God-created to human-created.

How can God be “three-in-one”?

Tonight we began our four week exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We’ll be exploring the Creed as the Faith Statement of our church as a whole and we will be tying that into the faith statements we’ll begin working on this weekend on the CREW Retreat. So as we look at the Apostle’s Creed as a whole, the Trinity is the first big idea most everyone, from middle school students to long-time pastors, struggle with. Tonight we’ll be asking the question:

How can God be “three-in-one”?

While not explicitly spelled out in the Bible, the early church combined two words (tri- meaning “threeness” and -unitas meaning “oneness”) to describe the movements of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that they found in Scripture. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. wrote that God is constituted by three persons, but by one substance. This concept explained how Jesus of Nazareth could both be God incarnate and be in a prayer-relationship with God.

Another way to understand the Trinity is to focus not so much on the three “persons,” but on the relationship that binds the three. That eternal, divine relationship can be understood as a mutual indwelling or as a reciprocal enveloping, each of the other two. When this understanding is applied, the incarnation of Jesus is seen as the invitation by God for human beings to enter this relationship, and the crucifixion is God’s own experience of broken relationship and godforsakenness.

Tonight, we started off with the idea of a Father simultaneously being a dad, a husband, and a son. Although he is just one person, he plays at least three distinct roles in his life. This analogy, as with all analogies, ultimately falls short of totally explaining the Trinity. So we turned to scripture to see how Christ calls us to believe things which may be impossible for us to comprehend. Then for our small group activity we took time to create Poetic Analogies for things from a chair to the spleen and preformed our poems for our small groups.

This week’s Take Home Assignment is to create a genogram of each students family or close friends. Using symbols, students will create a picture of the relationships within their own family and use that to explore the relationships that exist within the Trinity.

Ash Wednesday Potluck

This Ash Wednesday all of the families of confirmation got together to share a delicious meal, learn about what’s ahead for lent, and to participate in the Ash Wednesday service at 7pm. Our meal was a delicious mash up of all of our favorite dishes from Pulled Pork to Mac ‘n Cheese to Meatballs to Jello. What a delightful event.

This year during CREW we have been studying the Pillars of Faith and what it means to be a Lutheran Christian. As we move into our Lent Project, we’ll be focusing on the ELCA’s motto: “God’s Work, Our Hands.” In order to do God’s Work, we’ll be partnering with a historically Lutheran ministry called Mosaic. Mosaic serves people with intellectual disabilities in our communities.

During tonight’s meal we were blessed with the presence of Mosaic staff and clients. We heard from Kaite Flippen, Mosaic’s Public Relations Specialist, about the role Mosaic plays in the community both here in central Iowa and throughout the nation and internationally. Then Paul and Ryan (two Mosaic clients) about how their lives have changed since being involved with Mosaic. We saw that although people with intellectual disabilities may have different challenges than you or I might face, that they are blessed with their very own set of gifts and abilities.

This year during Lent, our small groups will be partnered with a group of Mosaic clients and asked to prepare a party based on the specific interests and abilities of the members of the Mosaic group. As CREW members work on this project, they will be asked to find how what you are doing fits in with the Mission, Vision, and Values of St. Mark.

After Lent we will be displaying in the church the awesome work of our middle schoolers and the impact they’ve had on their community.

 

Why should I pray the Lord’s Prayer?

We started off this year by learning about one of the pillars of our faith, the 10 commandments. Now as we move on after Christmas we’ll be spending time diving deeply into two other pillars of our faith: The Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles Creed. This week we’ll be introducing the Lord’s Prayer as by asking the question:

Why should I pray the Lord’s Prayer when it feels like I’m just going through the motions?

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Christmas by Heart

Happy New Year! I know that sounds weird but it’s true. The Christian calendar starts every year with the season of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting and preparation as we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah. This year in CREW we’ll be practicing the preparation that Advent is all about by learning to tell Jesus’s Birth Narrative from Luke 2 by heart. Memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible seems like a really daunting task. So, luckily that’s not the task ahead of us in the next two weeks. Instead of memorizing the exact words from a specific translation, we’ll be focusing on simply telling the story.

For almost 1500 years, scripture was passed down orally (that is people would speak while others listened). This was partly because most people simply couldn’t read and partly because the production of Bibles was an extremely expensive undertaking until the invention of the printing press just 500 years ago. So, over the next two weeks we’re going to take a small section of scripture and transform it back into the same sort of thing people 2000 years ago might have experienced as they waited for the coming Messiah.

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