"... and it was good."

by Pastor Heath Howe

"God saw all that He had made and it was good."
                                                    Genesis 1

Creation is such an important and powerful teacher, especially for Christians. It is, in many ways, our first and ever-tangible example of what it means to embrace and completely live the life of an Easter Person. Creation shows us over and over again the pattern and rhythm of resurrected life. In every part of nature we see birth, life, death, and new life. Consider the seasons of the year. Each one comes alive, exists, and passes. In its passing, a new one is created. Consider the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, the tadpole who becomes a frog, and the seed that becomes a tree who, in turn, makes more seeds. The examples are endless.

We will spend much of the month of June moving out of the season of Easter and into the season of Pentecost. With this movement, it can be easy to forget about Easter. When we put away the bunny rabbit figures, store away the plastic eggs, and eat the last Cadbury Chocolates, we can easily put away our Easter faith. We must always remember that the Easter moment we hear about in the story of Jesus did not happen only once to him a long time ago. It is still happening to us and all of creation now. Because of Jesus, we have been caught in a new way of life. A life where we are one with God, one another, and all of creation. A life eternal where holiness is in all. A life in Christ.

If we forget this and limit the power of Easter to Jesus alone we will find the call of Pentecost difficult to do, for Pentecost is the season where we are sent forth to bring others into the life of Christ. The rest of June and all of July and August are a part of that season. How will we ever feel brave or able enough to invite another into the life of Christ if we have packed its meaning away with our decorations?

So let's not do that this year. Instead, let's invite nature to be our constant companion as we stretch our Easter wings, breathe in the breath of new life, and begin to claim our call. To do this, I invite you and your family to practice what we, in my family, call Prayer Plots. The activity can be done weekly or daily or a couple of times a week. It can be done all summer, or while on vacation. The important thing is to make it intentional. Choose what is best for your family. Here is how it works.

Preparation: Have each family member choose a place in the family yard, balcony window box, or lake house wooded area and claim it as his/her prayer plot. The space need not be more than 12x12 foot space. Someone might choose a particular flower or a set of trees. The possibilities are endless, and there is no right or wrong.

  • Provide or have each member bring a journal and pencil/crayons.
  • Choose a bell or chime to use as a signaling device to mark the time (no electronics).
  • Divide responsibilities: reader, timekeeper, etc.

Welcome (said by oldest member of the family): "For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. Welcome to the time of meeting the Christ in creation, ourselves, and one another."

Bible Reading (read by a child if possible): Genesis 1-2:3. If this is too long, read manageable pieces each time you meet, or use the passage from a children's bible. The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories is a great one, and is lovingly illustrated by Kelly Pulley.

Activity:

  • A member of the family agrees to be the time keeper for the gathering (this job can pass to another family member each time). To begin, his person rings or chimes a bell.
  • Have each person walk to his/her prayer plot. Remain there for several moments and just watch, listen, and notice. Duration can be tweaked based on the needs of your family. Write or draw anything that comes to you.
  • The bell/chime is rung again, signaling a time warning.
  • he bell/chime is rung a 3rd time to signal the end.
  • All gather and share what they noticed.

Consider the following:
"In my prayer plot today I saw..."
"I wonder what God is doing with this place..."
"I believe this part of nature is trying to teach me..."
"I see Christ alive in this place because...."
"I am part of this plot because...."

For younger families:
"My favorite thing about my prayer plot is..."
"Here is the spot in my prayer plot that reminds me of me..."
"I know God is here because...."

Closing Prayer: (read by another member of the family): "Creator God, you made us all and we thank you. Risen Christ you make us one and we thank you. Living God, you call us to life and we thank you."

Blessing: Make the sign of the cross on one another's forehead and say, "You belong to Christ."

The format has been adapted from For Everything a Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life by The Nilsen Family.