I must confess, that when I look at this Sunday’s gospel I am pleased that I am away for the weekend and so not required to prepare a homily: "Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” This is tricky! The following quote from Pope Francis goes some way toward making sense of the gospel: "God has a real face, God has a name: God is mercy, God is faithfulness, God is life which is given to us all. For this reason Jesus says “I came to bring division”. It is not that Jesus wishes to split people up. On the contrary Jesus is our peace, he is our reconciliation! But this peace is not the peace of the tomb, it is not neutrality, Jesus does not bring neutrality, this peace is not a compromise at all costs. Following Jesus entails giving up evil and selfishness and choosing good, truth and justice, even when this demands sacrifice and the renunciation of our own interests.” - Pope Francis Refusing neutrality! There are so many instances that require from us a response, when we must take a stand. Over the past year, many of us have made submissions to oppose David Seymour’s ‘End of Life’ bill. We are now being encouraged to make submissions in defense of the unborn, upholding the unborn child’s dignity and humanity in response to proposed changes to abortion legislation. We are increasingly being challenged to make practical adjustments to our lives in response to the environmental crisis. And in response to Jesus’ vision of the reign of God we cannot remain neutral in the face of any instance of human suffering and need. For example, as a parish have refused to be neutral about the suffering of refugees and have sought to respond in practical ways. Early on, there were voices of opposition to this stance, just as there are voices of opposition (even derision!) when we take a stand on the environment or about abortion or about euthanasia. It is important, however, that in refusing neutrality we speak the truth with love. One of our parishioners emailed me this reflection on a talk given by visiting lecturer, Alison Phipps at the Mornington Methodist Church on Tuesday night. She proposes a powerful way of thinking about how we speak truth with love. "She was talking about the fact that we don't have a refugee crisis but a hospitality crisis and that integration is a question of mutual reciprocal hospitality, which is life-giving. She also spoke about lack of welcome to refugees, anger and asking fellow Christians- if this is our Gospel teaching, where were you? However, wise Buddhists told her that's not a good question to ask, as it comes from anger, not a place of love. People won't change with that question being thrown at them. We change by being offered different models one small fragment at a time and hearing the echoes from other people. We change through beauty and our proximity to beauty. She spoke a bit about Pope Francis and Caritas Internationale modelling hospitality. If we wrap words, beauty and care around people, we 'sacramentalise' their experience as they are wrapped in hospitality and feel safe." Fr Gerard
It is important to support younger children in developing deep and consistent prayer lives. Help them know that God lovingly calls us into a personal relationship and always hears our prayers. God want to be part of EVERY aspect of our lives not just when things are difficult. Here are some fun ways to encourage you to be in relationship with God everyday and to bring all things to God in prayer.
Prayer Dice A prayer dice can be used as a quick and way to have prayer in the morning. Each side of the dice will have a word on it, for example, family, grandparent, animals, teachers, siblings, the environment, people who are sick, people who are lonely, pets or animals, your choice. Whatever the dice rolls on is what we pray for. At prayer time, maybe roll the dice 2 -3 times. Finish with a response e.g., “Merciful God hear our prayers”
Meditation Prayer Write down your own prayer or think about something you want to pray about. Go outside or find somewhere quiet at home and find a space on their own. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Get everyone to lay down on their backs and do a mediation type of prayer. Encourage stillness and a return to your prayer if your attention wanders, but leave space to just be in God's presence.
Prayer Ball Buy a small ball and write different things that you could use to spark prayer. Throw the ball to each other and stop every 5 passes. Wherever your thumb is pointing use that to create a prayer. Here are some examples of things you could use:
- Pop up and say one thing to praise God for something - Ask God to help someone who is sick - Shout out loud somewhere you can be like Jesus today - With a friend - Pray for a child who lives where there is war - ask God to help you cheer up someone who is feeling sad - Tell God about a fun day you have had and thank God for that day - what makes you sad? Why? Ask God for comfort - some children have no clean water , ask God to help them - pray for someone you have seen on TV - thank God for someone who is older than you - shout out the name of someone who helps you - put you left foot into the circle - then pray for those kids who don't have any shoes and warm clothes - pretend to swim around the room and prayer for those people who live on island effected by climate change - if you could email God .... what would you say? Tell God now. - with a friend pray for all the babies and mothers in the world - what is stopping you from helping others? Ask God to help you be brave! - What could you donate that someone else could use? Ask God to help you be more generous. - what is your favourite thing about God? Tell your friend - zoom around the room and tell God 3 people you are thankful for - stand like a tree and pray that we can be more careful with our environment - think of something you have done wrong. Silently tell God you are sorry. - make the sound of a lion or wild animal - thank God for the amazing creatures we share this planet with - find 3 people and tell each one something you are thankful for Prayer Marbles Choose between 3-5 marbles Take turns to put the marble into the box saying one thing that you are thankful for.
Prayer Book Writing down things you are thankful for to God for in the front of the journal. This can be family, friends, sky, grass, etc. anything that they love and appreciate about the world In the back things that you want to asking God about: for example, 'Loving God please stop hunger and war.' or 'God of miracles please heal my cat who is feeling sick.’
M&M Prayer 5 colours blue - family green - friends yellow - church red - people of other religions orange - leaders and teachers
The children get 3-5 m&m’s or counters which they have to pray for and take turn to share their prayers.
Prayerful playdoh Think of something in your life you are struggling with or having problems with. Use the dough to create an image that represents this. Are you make the image listen to what God might be saying to you about the situation. Have a discussion with God and allow it to move back and forth, from talking to listening. Once everyone has finished creating end the prayer with something like, God give us the courage to deal with things are Jesus would. Amen
Lego Prayer Choose a piece of lego Step 1: Hold your brick, pray for yourself. Thank God for the things you have been given. Ask God to bless you and to help you to bless others. Step 2: Count the bumps on your brick. For each bump on your brick, pray for a different person - friends or family members. Ask God to bless them this week. Step 3: Find someone in the group who has a different colour brick to you. Thank God for something about this person. This could be a trait, attribute or skill. Thank God for making each person special and unique. Pray that we will learn how to celebrate, understand and include people who are different to us. Step 4: Find someone with the same number of bumps on their brick as you. Thank God for families and friends and all who care for us. Ask God to help us to be make an effort to be friends with those who are lonely. Step 5: Swap your brick with someone. Thank God for the person you swapped with and ask God to bless them this week. Step 6: Put all the bricks together and build a structure or tower with them. Thank God for the church and the communities we live in. Pray that God will help us to include others and to help people know that they are loved and valued.
5 Finger Prayer To take home. Thumb – for the ones we love (our thumb is closest to us. 1st finger – for the teachers (this is our pointing finger) 2nd finger – for out leaders (this is the tallest finger) 3rd finger – for the sick and vulnerable (this is our weakest finger) 4th finger – for me THE PALM - Mother Earth who's future we hold in the palm of our hands.