By The Reverend Christine V. Hides
“Maybe God is in the giant strawberry!” “Or the color blue!” “God is in the glitter!” Our preschool campers at Vacation Bible School were awed by Katie’s use of milk, food coloring, and dish soap to tell the story of Psalm 19. As I watched our youngest campers sing, plan, and learn scripture, I was reminded about what I have named, “the three C’s of summer planning: Community, Curiosity, and Choice.”
Summers in the Children’s Ministry wing are time for working on big projects and planning for the coming year. The three C’s help us focus on the ways we relate to and interact with children. Building community, nurturing curiosity, and offering choice create opportunities for joy and wonder to show up—even in a bowl of milk.
Almost everything I am reading these days connects with the 3 C’s:
I’m re-listening to the late Rachel Held Evans audio book, Searching for Sunday, which is read in her own voice. I am moved by the authenticy, humor, and tenderness she brings to the page. Organized around the sacraments she weaves a story of searching for community in a messy, imperfect, church world.
For children: Given the rainy weather we’ve had, The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates is a fitting summer picture book. On each page the umbrella gathers in and shelters all kinds of people and creatures helping us to imagine a world where there is enough room for everyone.
Written for teachers of elementary children, I believe the strategies and experiences in the book Experience Inquiry by Kimberly L. Mitchell could also be applied to parenting and other areas to encourage curiosity and engagement with what we know about the world. I wonder how we might incorporate the five strategies into our Sunday School curriculum: Get Personal, Stay Curious, Ask more – Talk less, Encourage Evidence, and Extend Thinking Time.
In Educated, Tara Westover offers her story of surviving a harrowing childhood raised by parents who isolated her from public education and the world. A true page turner, she shares the determination, effort and sacrifice required to make it to Cambridge University. I found it a compelling story about pursuing a life beyond what she had experienced or could have imagined.
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso’s picture book The Story of And: the Little Word that Changed the World, is a fun story about what happens when shapes are joined together. With “and” a solitary square and a sharp worded triangle can become a house. People can be gathered together. You and I becomes us.