There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You...Many Ways to Know God.
By Pastor Heath Howe
David, my husband, not only admires, loves, and appreciates Mr. Rodgers, he was also his friend. In our home library, i.e. David's room, you will find an original icon of Fred Rodgers in his calissic sweater, a wooden trolley given to David by Fred, and if you are lucky, hand written letters. The children's television hero of 33 1/2 years made a huge impact on David...and well, many others.
Being more of a Sesame Street girl myself I was not as familiar with all of Mr. Rodgers's stories and songs. I loved the Neighborhood of Make Believe, but I did not know much else. I certainly never knew that Fred was an ordained Presbyterian Minister and believed the children (and parents) who watched his show were his congregation. Through his show he wanted children to really love and appreciate their uniqueness as a child of God.
Knowing this is why one of his songs in particular speaks to me most this time of year, There Are Many Way to Say I Love You. May is for many of us a busy spring month. The flowers and plants are in full variety. End of the year events in all their vastness happen between May 1 and 31. As a church this year we end the month with Pentecost, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit and the many voices, gifts, and experiences the Holy Spirit brings to our lives. It is through these various acts of the Holy Spirit we begin to know God's presence. Just as there are many ways to say I love you. There are many ways to hear God's voice, feel God's touch, and know God's presence.
I think we tend to forget that at times. We are so busy trying to raise our children correctly or successfully that we forget to open up our minds to the numerous ways we can teach our children (and ourselves) to know God. We know God's love in the hug of a grandparent, the laugh of a teacher, and the sharing of a toy with a friend. We hear God's voice in the goodnight whisper of Mom or the baseball cheer of Dad. We sense God's presence when we reach out to someone in need or when we sit quietly in our backyard being still. God does not limit God's voice to words we hear in church. God has many ways to say, I love you. To better understand the diversity of ways we know God consider the following activity:
Meeting God in Nature
Materials needed: chime or bell
1. Choose one day this month when you will go to the beach, the park, the back yard, or any favorite outdoor place as a family.
2. Once gathered ask one person to serve as "time keeper."
3. Begin with a prayer: "Loving God, there are many ways to say I love you. May we know you in the many ways you call us by name. Amen."
4. Explain that for the next bit of time (times will vary depending on families and age of children) all are will walk quietly around the space you are gathered. Each person is to find three pieces in nature (a rock, a flower, etc.) that they really like. There will be one sound of the chime to begin the walk. When the chime is sounded again all are invited back to share their findings with the rest of the family.
5. Begin the walk (anywhere from five to ten minutes)
6. Chime the bell to end
7. All gather and share their findings. Once gathered, have each member share answers to the following:
Each of these pieces reminds me of God because_______________.
If I had to describe what God's love, voice, touch is like I would say____________.
Until now, I never knew that God's love was like________________.
8. Once all have shared have each person say the following to every other family member:
(Members name) you have taught me about God by____________________. Thank you.
9. End with a prayer: "Thank you God for the many ways you come to us. Thank you for our family. Many we share your love with others in the world."
Meeting God in Food
If taking a walk in nature does not work for your family, try the same activity while preparing a meal. Have each member or pair of members choose a dish to prepare. Once gathered form the meal, pray the prayer above, adapt the above questions to work with the food presented, feast, and end numbers 8 and 9 above.
Keep letting your imagination go. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. You may find other ways of Meeting God...Enjoy!
Meeting God in Others (Family Service)
Depending on the age of your children, discuss as a family what type of service project you would like to commit to as a family over the next few weeks or summer. Do not limit your creativity. There are many ways to tell God's people how much they are loved!
For other family activities please go to www.vibrantfaithathome.org