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The Holy Weedwhacker: October 1 at 10am

Alison Faison

Being Parents: Working with Our Fears and Values

How did your fears and values show up this year? We have learned a lot about ourselves and our families during the pandemic. If only it could be so easy to create a boundary and say that the pandemic is over.  Transitions and change continue each day for ourselves and our children. God is there with us in the midst of acknowledging that particular circumstances are beyond our control.

I am reading The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and ourselves) Embrace Our Differences by Carolyn B. Helsel and Y. Joy Harris-Smith.  It is helpful to see how fears and values are simply defined, so that we can look at our responses and move forward into healthy behavior patterns in tandem with growing faith. Helsel and Harris-Smith define automatic ABCs as: afraid, back away, and control. This relates to our physical body’s responses to signals from the animal brain which aims to protect ourselves and those around us.  The authors also created intentional engagement ABCs: acknowledge, be present, and come closer in order to help people stay engaged in learning about themselves and others. “When we start to feel uncomfortable,  we can acknowledge the source of our discomfort. Acknowledge that there is something new happening in you and around you, and that this opportunity can be a gift.” Being present relates to staying curious, open, with a willingness to try as well as and deal with mistakes. “Coming closer means physically remaining in spaces in which you are uncomfortable. Coming closer means actually moving closer toward persons who are different from you, rather than staying away or avoiding them…It means you become a bridge without expectation.” In order to move into these intentional ABCs we need to have most of our needs met. During the pandemic, physical and mental health, economic instability, isolation, and loneliness touched our lives. We may still be in those places where we are trying to fulfill our basic needs. When we can fill our needs we can move into the ABCs of a more just society: Access, Build, and Cultivate.  Accessing reliable information, resources, and interpersonal network connections bring us into reality and community. Building is acknowledging systems in which we and our children have grown up and reframing structures in which those who are marginalized can finally also benefit.  “Cultivate refers to generating something new with what has been accessed and build upon…It also recognizes that we need new methods and processes as we move into the future.”

We acknowledge that our children go through fears and feel vulnerable like we do as adults. Their brains and bodies are developing, so their responses are different than ours. Our homework can be to look at brain research to understand age-appropriate questions and ways to respond to fears in children and youth, as well as learn how to be present and active listeners. Some tools that Helsel and Harris-Smith suggest to buoy up our own attitudes and wellbeing are to access the ROCKS of our foundation: Respect, Optimism, Community, Kindness, and Safety.  We can address our own fears about safety in order to fulfill the need for stability, as well as tap into reliance on God and our faith groups. We can work together to help our neighborhoods, schools, and community centers be more accessible and safe.  Reach out to Calvary friends and pastors when you need to check in with the ABCs. When we do this together, we can be healthier parents for our children.

More to Explore

Calvary’s 169 Years of Change-Makers

Occasionally I hear comments to the effect of, “Calvary’s recent highlighting of political issues can deter people from attending worship services.” My response is something like, “Since July 23, 1854, for 169 years, Calvary has been addressing human rights issues directly related to Jesus’ radical welcome. In 2020, we, along with many congregations across the U.S., became a Matthew 25 church that outwardly proclaims our commitment to feeding the hungry, clothing the unclothed, housing the unhoused, and loving those who are pushed aside and threatened by the workings of established societal systems.” In July 2021, I wrote a short children’s book called “You are a Calvary History-Maker.” I noted stories researched by Joe Beyer and information written in Carol Green Wilson’s book “Many Years One Message: Calvary Presbyterian Church: 1854 – 1979.” The opening line of my story is, “You are a Calvary history change-maker whether you have been sitting on the velvet sanctuary pew for half of your life or have only watched a few online services while sitting in your jammies on the couch this year.” The Protestant idea that we are the “community/priesthood of believers” gives us all permission to participate in our own faith-formation, as well as points to the responsibility to actively respond to our call. We don’t attend worship so we can watch the pastors and staff do community outreach. We attend worship to be inspired to courageously carry out the call of Matthew 25 into our relationships, work life, spiritual growth, and public action.

Summer with Children and Youth

Summer is a busy time for families as they shift from the school-year schedules to summer camps, programs, and vacations. How does church fit into families’ summer schedules? Many years ago, Calvary held summer worship services in the chapel and did not offer childcare. It was a time when pastors would go on study leave and vacations and folks would be out of town. It was a good time for families to sit together during worship. For almost ten years, we have had childcare open every Sunday throughout the year. We support families whenever they come to Calvary. Families have the choice to sit together during worship or walk their children to childcare and Sunday Studio.

More About Juneteenth

Join the Calvary Racial Equity Initiative (REI) Team after worship this Sunday, June 18, to celebrate our newest Federal holiday and the oldest known holiday that observes the end of slavery in the U.S. Enjoy Coffee Hour with treats from a local Black-owned business and information about Black heroes. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger announced that the enslaved people in Texas were free by the order of the president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1862. The Calvary church building will be closed on Monday, June 19 to commemorate Juneteenth. This blog will provide links to Juneteenth history resources and information about reparations. Amos 5:24 "But let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry."