Monday, 25 February 2013

Lensing the Lectionary

One of the fundamental principles of education is relevance.  If a teacher or chaplain cannot answer the simple student question, "Why are we learning this?" then she or he needs to rethink what she or he is doing.
A classic form of this question for a young Christian audience is, "How are the writings and teachings of people 2000 years ago relevant to me today?"  And again, I would argue there is an onus upon every Christian in a teaching situation to have an answer to that question in mind.
As I mentioned in my last post, the Revised Common Lectionary (and the Catholic Ordo Lectionum Missae, upon which the RCL is based) has proven useful in giving many faith communities an orderly, scholarly method for reading and reflecting upon a significant portion of the Bible over a three-year period.
The intention of the FaithLens blog (from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is to provide "weekly Bible studies that engage youth and young adults in connecting world events with the Bible, faith, and everyday life" and it does this through offering warm-up questions, some facts about a recent news story, discussion questions, the Lectionary's scriptural texts for the week, a reflection upon the Scripture, more discussion questions, some suggested activities, and a closing prayer. And it's completely free of charge!
(If you know of any local equivalents, feel free to tell us about them below.)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I am a Thoughtful Guy - Rhett & Link

Something a little whimsical this time around.

After a religious education lesson at a major Brisbane High School a Yr 11 student stopped me as the lesson ended.  He confided that what he really loved about RE was the chance to ponder his own identity, his place in the world and what difference a belief in God made for that.

He owned up to not really believing in God but had found himself taken aback by how much he had become engaged thinking about faith possibilities.  Just the act of thinking philosophically and then applying that to his own existence had been invigorating.

As he went to leave, he scribbled the name of this video onto the remains of a worksheet and thrust it into my hand.  "You should hear this," he said.  You'll love it."

Using humour, the video points to the worth of the act of pondering.  If an unreflective life is not much of a life at all, this video affirms the act of reflecting on the big and little questions that life poses every day. Oh and some that life doesn't pose, but a creative mind does!

It's just for fun, but could be used to as a starting point for a unit on ultimate questions, or in Chapel to affirm theological reflection.

You can find it here.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Life Vest Inside

I stumbled upon this video while looking for things related to service. From the beginning I got caught up in its "pay it forward" imagery. The idea that a simple act of kindness can flow on from one person to the next is beautiful and has deep a connection with the concept of grace in Christian thought and practice.

This video was produced by an organisation called Life Vest Inside "a grassroots organisation based in New York city whose goal is to simply encourage the spreading of happiness through small acts of kindness - as a way of combating bullying and teen depression."

Its founder Orly Wahba, a middle school teacher, started the organisation as a way of responding to the grief of her students who lost classmates several years in a row.

She remembers thinking: "How would I help my 7th grade students make sense of yet another tragic loss? How do you find order in such a chaotic world? How do you stay afloat when so many of life’s events seem to pull you downward?"

As she was boarding a plane she felt very disheartened and as she look across she saw a sign that said: Life Vest Inside. In this she found comfort. A life vest stays afloat no matter how much it is pushed down. She believed that through the kindness we show to others and others show to us we help each other stay afloat. From that moment Wahba decided to spread that message to the world.

I wonder how as Christians we might help our students see the "kindness" Christ has shown to us and that by showing grace, love and kindness to others we make the choice to  help others stay afloat.

The same clip with alternate (and I think more touching) music can be found here.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Loving the Lectionary

Not too long ago, I attended a workshop on Children's worship / Sunday school presented by a lady from a non-mainstream denomination. It soon became clear that her church's worship was a very spontaneous affair, with texts and themes chosen largely at random, depending on what the senior pastor and team felt called to present that week. At one point, she seemed to be thinking aloud: wouldn't it be good if the Sunday school focus and the Church worship focus were always guaranteed to be in synch from week to week?

As some of the Uniting Church, Anglicans and others in our group began to gently outline the concept of the Revised Common Lectionary to her, she became very impressed.  It seemed an old idea was about to gain some fresh followers!

I am often asked for lectionary-based materials because of the beauty of having all of a faith community's worship in synch, not just within one congregation, but literally in synch with congregations all over the world, and schools can certainly be part of this world-wide Scriptural pattern too.

The cartoon above is from, a lectionary-based strip which is free to use for your non-profit purposes, provided you meet their generous conditions: see their FAQs. In coming weeks, I'll be suggesting some more lectionary-based resources to help you keep you in synch with the many Christians around the world who prefer to follow the RCL.