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Meditations

  • Thoughts on Finding Time

    This is an busy time of year in our household. My youngest is playing baseball; my older one is working through all the Senior year requirements along with planning for graduation and college this fall. We're having work done on our house, and I'm planning and presenting day-long programs for 3 elementary school classes and one high school class. We're juggling a lot, and so are you I'm sure. In the middle of all of this I find it is critical to take a step back, to look at that crowded family calendar and make some time for the important people in our lives. Relationships take time. That means time for your immediate family, but also friends, and the ones you hope to be friends with. Taking time, to listen to each other, to tell a story to connect or reconnect with others is an opportunity to receive gifts that God has given you.  One of the interesting things about the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions is that each one has a weekly Sabbath. Although other religions have holy days, these traditions declare that God has made time sacred, so sacred that one day a week needs to be set aside as a day of rest, to be set apart from other days. I currently live near a large Amish community and have been impressed with their commitment to family and community. They worship together every other Sunday and to strengthen their community life, they eat together after the service, and spend the "off" Sunday visiting with family and friends. The time they take creates bonds that carry them through the hard times and make rejoicing sweeter. The following was hanging in my grandmother's house when I was growing up. Who hath a friend with whom to share, Hath double cheer and half a care. So look at your calendar and find some time for your friends, new or old, they are a gift to you from God.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Finding Time

    This is an busy time of year in our household. My youngest is playing baseball; my older one is working through all the Senior year requirements along with planning for graduation and college this fall. We're having work done on our house, and I'm planning and presenting day-long programs for 3 elementary school classes and one high school class. We're juggling a lot, and so are you I'm sure. In the middle of all of this I find it is critical to take a step back, to look at that crowded family calendar and make some time for the important people in our lives. Relationships take time. That means time for your immediate family, but also friends, and the ones you hope to be friends with. Taking time, to listen to each other, to tell a story to connect or reconnect with others is an opportunity to receive gifts that God has given you.  One of the interesting things about the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions is that each one has a weekly Sabbath. Although other religions have holy days, these traditions declare that God has made time sacred, so sacred that one day a week needs to be set aside as a day of rest, to be set apart from other days. I currently live near a large Amish community and have been impressed with their commitment to family and community. They worship together every other Sunday and to strengthen their community life, they eat together after the service, and spend the "off" Sunday visiting with family and friends. The time they take creates bonds that carry them through the hard times and make rejoicing sweeter.   The following was hanging in my grandmother's house when I was growing up. Who hath a friend with whom to share, Hath double cheer and half a care.   So look at your calendar and find some time for your friends, new or old, they are a gift to you from God.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on God, dinosaurs and the creation of the world

    Last year among my 11 year olds group of friend there was much conversation and debate about how the world came to be. This was not the first time (or I suspect the last time) the question would come up. It was sparked by a number of events and generated many question about the story of creation in Genesis. Or perhaps I should say stories of creation, because there are in fact two account of creation, the first in Chapter 1 and the second in Chapter 2. The question that kept coming up for my son, and that I have heard over and over again is "Mom what REALLY happened?" We hear of the "Creation vs. Evolution" debate of scientist, believers, skeptics and others championing their view of the exact science that created the world as we know it. But the wrong questions are being asked of Genesis and of the texts of science. In Genesis we hear the stories that were told around the campfire to answer, "Why are things the way they are?". This is not a modern science text but something closer to poetry, a poem that points to God as creator. The text of science address the questions of "how?" not "why?". When my children were very young they would ask me about creation, evolution and the dinosaurs. The best explanation I've come up with is this conversation. "Describe the sun to me like a poet would." "Now describe the sun to me like a scientist would" "Tell me, which one is real?" The answer is both.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Maundy thursday

    Throughout Holy Week the worship services give us an opportunity to walk with Jesus from the triumph of Palm Sunday through the dark of Jesus' trial and death, to the glory of the Resurrection. For those of you with younger children, there is one midweek service that I encourage you to try to attend. Maundy Thursday provides a worship experience of children that can bridge the experiences of Palm Sunday and Easter. If you haven't been to a Maundy Thursday service before, during this time we are invited to experience the intimacy of the last supper and the sorry and feat of Jesus' friends at his arrest. As part of the service the congregation is invited to come forward and to have their feet washed, and to receive communion for the final time before Easter. For young children to be encouraged to take off their shoes and socks IN CHURCH is an experience that draws them into the story and helps them to participate in it.  The foot washing, communion and the stripping of the alter offer children a dramatic way to experience the story of Holy Week. I hope you will take to time to come.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Tweets, Facebook, cell phones and friendship

    I grew up long before tweets, or cell phones or even computers, back in the dark ages, my kids would say.  I'm a digital immigrant, trying to keep up with the world my children have grown up in. This world allows us all to keep in touch in new ways, to maintain friendships in new ways. I can chat with my college friend Teresa in Japan or Facebook with Jeremy in Australia. This is great! Until it's not. We all now navigate terrain that can strengthen a friendship or blow it to bits. Adults have had practice with both, yet there are times we struggle with them as well. For our pre-teens and teens this can be even more difficult. The digital world increases the impact of words. Out in the cloud they can last forever. What we say can be wonderfully supportive or devastating. Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs we are reminded that what we say has an impact on all those around us. Our words can be honey or poison. Perhaps the one quote that has helped me think carefully is the following: "Before you speak, think- Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?"  (Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Indian Spiritual Leader) Perhaps we can help to model this for our children, and help them to learn to live it out.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Keeping Lent

    One of the most memorable sermons I ever heard described Lent as the spiritual equivalent of cleaning out the back of the refrigerator. Out go the stale practices and old jars of habits, long past their expiration date. Time to scrub down the shelves and take stock of the practices that need to be taken out and used. As a family we try to make some changes, shake things up a bit. I work on more vegetarian meals. We look for a service project, we try to learn more about how others live. We look for new ways to meet Christ in others. What will your family be doing? Share them with me at Linnae.peterson@gmail.com
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Faith Formation and Development Part 3

    When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of my first stops was the bookstore. I was looking for a book to guide me through the next 9 months, and another one to give me some idea of what I needed to know about this new life I was responsible for. There were books, dozens of them, but none of them addressed the development of my child's spirituality.  What books I did find on the subject were dense academic tomes, so here I will boil down some of their information. Most researchers find that children pass through 4 or 5 "stages of faith," beginning in infancy and continuing through adulthood. Unlike physical development, many people stop along the way, spending more or less time in one stage or another as their personality or situation requires. Some spiritual directors liken the spiritual life to a spiral, where we revisit similar themes and issues throughout our lives from a different perspective.   Part III The Community of Faith One of the hallmarks of a healthy church is the friendships that form. This is one of the critical elements in the third stage of faith development. "Church friends" provide a community where tweens and teens can begin to explore what it means to belong to this community of faith. In this context they can explore all the questions that are floating around: What do I really believe? How should I respond when people are mean? What should I do about the things that I see in the world that are not right? Where is God in this world? Will everyone still like me on a bad hair day? Belonging, no matter what is going on, is a critical part of being in the community of faith, so keep trying to bring your kids to church, even when they have purple hair. It will make a difference to them when an adult comes up to them and says, "Cool hair". (I will continue with the Adult stages IV and V at a later time)
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Faith Formation and Development Part 2

    When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of my first stops was the bookstore. I was looking for a book to guide me through the next 9 months, and another one to give me some idea of what I needed to know about this new life I was responsible for. There were books, dozens of them, but none of them addressed the development of my child's spirituality.  What books I did find on the subject were dense academic tomes, so here I will boil down some of their information. Most researchers find that children pass through 4 or 5 "stages of faith," beginning in infancy and continuing through adulthood. Unlike physical development, many people stop along the way, spending more or less time in one stage or another as their personality or situation requires. Some spiritual directors liken the spiritual life to a spiral, where we revisit similar themes and issues throughout our lives from a different perspective. Part II The Forgiving Judge "IT"S NOT FAIR!!" So goes the rallying cry of the second stage of faith development. These little lawyers are looking for the sides of the box; they want to know what the rules are and just how far they can go before they break those rules. They want to know who is in and who is out and how they got that way. They like the image of God as a judge who will keep everyone in line. It's an image that comes easily in our culture, but one that can do great damage if not kept in check. Yes, there are rules-yet God is loving, forgiving, and merciful. Reminding your child of mercy and forgiveness, while keeping the rules, is a constant task. Good Luck!
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Faith Formation and Development Part 1

    When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of my first stops was the bookstore. I was looking for a book to guide me through the next 9 months, and another one to give me some idea of what I needed to know about this new life I was responsible for. There were books, dozens of them, but none of them addressed the development of my child's spirituality.  What books I did find on the subject were dense academic tomes, so here I will boil down some of their information. Most researchers find that children pass through 4 or 5 "stages of faith," beginning in infancy and continuing through adulthood. Unlike physical development, many people stop along the way, spending more or less time in one stage or another as their personality or situation requires. Some spiritual directors liken the spiritual life to a spiral, where we revisit similar themes and issues throughout our lives from a different perspective. So here is the first stage:   Part I The Good Shepard For the youngest children, their connection with God is all about taking it in. The wonder of a snowflake, the bounce of a musical rhythm, cuddling in a parent's arms, light through the stained glass all find their way into the spiritual life of the youngest children. Their faith is all about the experience, and enhancing that experience will deepen that faith. At this age children are learning language, and the language of faith is an important part of that. Help them see the love of Christ throughout creation. Experiencing the community at St. Matthew's will give your child an opportunity to feel the love of God through others and become familiar with the wonder of worship. In the story of the Good Shepherd, the shepherd takes care of all his sheep, no matter what. This story can be an image of Jesus' love for all of us, even the youngest.
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
  • Thoughts on Children and Santa Claus

     He's a jolly old elf..... the story on Santa Claus goes back much further than Clement Moore's poem. In fact the original title of the poem is "A Visit from St. Nicolas". St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century on what today is the coast of Turkey. He was known for his generosity to the poor, children and sailors. Many of the stories tell of his giving to others and helping them in secret. He was Bishop of Myra and in Sweden, Denmark, Spain and other countries you will see him dressed as a bishop. Perhaps the best way to honor St. Nicholas would be to follow his example and find way to help other, in secret. Have a family discussion and decide how your family can be secret saints. I'd love to hear your ideas. Send them to Linnae.peterson@gmail.com Book suggestion There are hundreds of wonderful Children's books that touch on Christmas. The list below is just a few suggestions. Check the library and bookstore for many more. Many of these can be found at St. Matthew's. Ages 0-2 Who is Coming to Our House?   Joseph Slate, Ashley Wolff   Sandcastle Books (Christmas)       2.      The Christmas Story Leon Baxter-Lion Book (Bible Story) Follow the Star Allie Zobel-Nolan- Readers Digest Kids (Bible Story) The First Christmas Allie Zobel-Nolan- Readers Digest Kids (Bible Story) Ages 3-4 Santa's Favorite Story Hisako Aoki, Ivan Gantschev Simon and Schuster (Christmas) Room for a Little One Martin Waddell , Jason Cockcroft- Simon and Schuster (Christmas) For Every Child a Star Thomas Yeomans - Holiday House (Christmas) The Donkey's Christmas Story Nancy Tafuri Scholastic (Christmas) Wombat Divine Mem Fox- Trumpet Books (Inclusion) The Gifts of Christmas Mark Bernthal- Lyrick Publishing (Generosity, includes St. Francis)  Ages 5-6 The Christmas Candle Richard Paul Evans- Simon and Schuster (Christmas) All Safe in the Stable Mig Holder - Candle Books (Christmas) The Baker's Dozen Aaron Shepard - Atheneum (Christmas) Marta and the Manger Straw Virginia Kroll- Zondervan (Christmas) The Little Boy's Christmas Gift John Speirs- Harry Abrams Publishers (Christmas, great illustrations)  Ages 7-8 Why Chirstmas Trees Aren't Perfect Richard H. Schneider- Abingdon Press (Christmas, inclusion) Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey Robert Byrd- Dutton Children's Books (Christmas) The Christmas PromiseSusan Bartoletti- Scholastic (Generosity) The Crippled Lamb Max Lucado- Tommy Nelson Publishers (Christmas) Miriam's Cup Fran Manushkin- Scholastic Press (Passover) The Give-Away Ray Buckley- Abingdon Press (Native American Christmas) Spirit Child John Bierhorst - SeaStar Books (Native American Christmas) The Legend of the Candy Cane Lori Walburg- Zondervan Publishing ( Christmas) The Christmas Ship Dean Morrissey- Harper Collins (Christmas) The Night of Las Posadas Tomie dePaola- Penguin Putnam Press (Christmas)
    Linnae Peterson, M. Div.

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