18 February 2010

Liturgical Year Resource

In her Convocation address at Virginia Theological Seminary in fall 2009, Lisa Kimball asserts that today's global and consumer age "are presenting us, the Church, with a profound invitation: focus on the basics. Read the Bible, Challenge the skeptics. Learn our history. Claim our unique identity in Christ."

The liturgical year is a basic part of our common life in the Church. It takes us through Jesus' journey beginning with Advent and acknowledges our need for growing and telling the stories in the long season of Pentecost. The liturgical year is a part of every Godly Play classroom. But it is often forgotten in classrooms for middle and high schoolers, and this is just the time when youth, who are growingi in self-awareness, need the liturgical calendar even more. It marks not just Christian time, but it gives our souls the opportunity to practice the rhythms of life. Advent helps us practice waiting, Ephiphany--a time of noticing Christ among us, Lent--a time for self-examination and repentance, Easter---a time of celebration, and Pentecost--the long time of growing.

When a youth faces waiting (such as waiting for a college decision or a job decision) or faces times of needing repentance (when they have broken relationships), their souls know just what to do because they have practiced. They know the prayers, they know it might take a long time to go through that period.  Keep the liturgical calendar in the youth room, give it out for bedroom bulletin boards, and dress your worship table with cloths that signify the color of the season. Through this practice, youth will also be more articulate about their faith in our pluralistic society.

A lifelong Episcopalian, Jenifer Gamber has served as a teacher and youth mentor for over 20 years and currently leads confirmation classes and baptism preparation at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, PA. She was recently elected Vice-President of NAECED (the National Association for Episcopal Christian Education Directors). Jenifer keynotes at conferences, leads workshops and retreats nationally, and maintains the website http://www.myfaithmylife.org/, a non-profit site offering free resources for adults who work with youth. She is a regular columnist for the Episcopal Teacher and author of several books for teens and adults about the Episcopal Church. Adults who work with youth might consider attending this popular retreat in September at Holy Cross Monastery: www.myfaithmylife.org./ohcretreat.html

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