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Palm Sunday: April 2 at 10am

Alison Faison

Making Room for Lent and Easter

Walking with children through the dramatic stories of Holy Week can be exhausting, but also connective. The book, Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter written by Laura Alary and illustrated by Ann Boyajian, walks adults and young children through the first Sunday of Lent all the way through the tough events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends in the glory of the Easter story. She frames each event in terms of making space: in the Kingdom of God, in our hearts, houses, tables, and more. She addressed the people who did not want to make space for Jesus or his welcoming and just ways. When reading the Lenten story with 2nd graders or older, jump directly into the gospels in the bible. If you don’t have access to a bible, check biblegateway.com and locate the CEV or Contemporary English Version for readability. It is good to navigate the chapters and verses with your child, so that they understand how to find passages in the bible. Start your reading journey on the first Sunday in Lent and explore until Easter Sunday.

We start Holy Week on joyous Palm Sunday when children wave palms and shout, “Hosanna! Save us now!” Adults know the dramatic irony that not all will welcome Jesus into Jerusalem during Holy Week. Children linger in the hope of the present moment. Jesus, riding on a donkey, is the one to be celebrated. Laura Alary asks, “I wonder who they thought Jesus was? I wonder what they hoped he would do for them?” Then we move into the trials that Jesus faces during the week. During Passover, Jesus invites his disciples to share a Last Supper as well as enjoy a loving gesture of washing the feet. Alary writes, “He [Jesus] pours himself out like water from a pitcher. He touches what is dirty and hurting and makes it clean and whole.” He reminds his beloved friends that he will always be with them in spirit. Then Jesus’ friends fall asleep and fail to protect him while in the garden. Jesus is taken away by soldiers. Good Friday scares us by its violence and saddens us by its sense of finality in Jesus’ death on the cross. Alary writes, “The cross is draped in black. The church is not dressed in purple anymore. It is bare and sad and full of shadows. Outside on the street I head people laughing and talking. It seems wrong. Don’t they know what has happened to Jesus?” On Holy Saturday we wait, make room, and wonder what it felt like on that early Easter morning for the women to find the stone rolled away from the tomb and Jesus raised from the dead. Alary exclaims, “Hallelujah! Jesus is risen! The colors of the sunrise spill over and splash into our church. Everywhere there are flowers and green leaves, beautiful banners and bright sunlight. The shadows are gone. Lent is over.”

Let us make room according to Matthew 25: feed the hungry, provide company to the lonely, and help those who are in unjust situations or have left prison. Calvary Presbyterian Church, along with a host of other interfaith houses of worship, is a Matthew 25 church as well as a Sanctuary church. We believe in connecting directly with people who want assistance, accompaniment, and acceptance. It is our calling to serve inside and outside of the walls of the church just like Jesus did in his walks through towns and cities. Let us make space in our lives by making it simpler if possible. Let us acknowledge things that we think are preventing us from connecting with God even though God is always present. Let us experience the joy of sharing with others and the peace of spending time alone in self-care.

More to Explore

Talking with Kids About the Order of Worship in the Bulletin.

If I visited Calvary for the first time and had not been to a Presbyterian church before, I would want someone to help me understand what I was doing throughout the order of worship. This blog provides an example of how some churches annotate their bulletins so children, youth, and adults can learn more about why we choose to read, sing, pray, and listen at certain times during the worship service. Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church (www.hbpres.net) in Louisville, Kentucky offers a model of how to explain the order of worship. Being transparent about how we worship together is in line with our reformed tradition. We can read and interpret the Bible ourselves, as well as worship and say prayers with our own bodies. Many years ago, a priest would do all of this while the congregation sat or stood. It is important for parents to share with their children that all people have the freedom to contribute to a worship service. By singing, listening, praying, and sharing, we get to know each other and witness each other’s talents and inspiring work. Fellowship and education events are only part of the ways that we form our faith together. Participating in worship is what binds us together each Sunday, so that we can support each other at or outside of church during the week.

Support Trans Kids

Calvary Presbyterian Church continues to support transgender youth and adults. March 2023 is Transgender Awareness Month. We show our continuing support through messages such as, “Trans Lives Matter,” “Believe Trans Kids,” “Support Trans Kids,” and “Protect Trans Kids.” This blog will offer some insight into Presbyterian and San Francisco organizations that actively support and advocate for LGBTQI+ people. I hope that you will take time to read through these resources. There is hope. So many inspired people of all ages are working together for freedom, safety, and love. Now that I am raising two teens I have come to more clearly understand the context and reality that LGBTQI+ youth live in every day. It is crucial to support the growth and development of transgender children and youth who sense that their “gender identity does not correspond with, or sit comfortably with, the sex they were registered at birth.” That is the definition of transgender offered by Twinkl, an education website for children ages preschool to 8th grade. See more definitions at the end of this blog. Transgender children, youth, young adults, adults, and senior adults do not want to be "othered" as they are children of God. We want to believe, support, and protect them, so that they can live safely and freely without fear and shame. When adults do not see or support children or youth as they are, the risks of gender dysphoria and youth suicide increase. God created all of us in Their image. May we have the courage to send out Jesus’ message of love and acceptance to ourselves and all people.

2022 Annual Report