Like many congregations, we have lots of members who travel during the summertime. They may spend three months fishing or camping or traveling or hiking or playing. Given Alaska's long daylight hours, making it back into town on Sunday morning or even Sunday night doesn't always happen.One could rail against that or one can ask for guidance in the Spirit for how to keep community and communion alive in these months of family and personal sabbath in the woods and wilderness. (Still, if you're in town, come on down!)
Inspired by Take Out Church, I made "God on the Go" kits for the faithful Alaskan family with kids. The kits and all their contents fit into the 64 ounce Ziplock containers with the lid snapping snugly. This should keep things watertight and just-right-sized for throwing in a duffle bag, backpack or suitcase. Or pushing under the seat of the camper. Or having at the foot of a sleeping bag.
GOD ON THE GO!
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.
Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
- Hebrews 10:25, The Message translation
What’s in the box?
A Flat Jesus
Holy Communion guide
Holy Communion instructions
1 Beach ball
1 “tablet” of paper
Colored pencils + pencil sharpener
Feelings play doh
Heavenly Sunshine songbook
VBS reminder card
Bible apps/Music/Bible recommendations
1. Flat Jesus- Color your Flat Jesus. Take pictures of Him or with Him on your travels. Use the hashtag #GodontheGo if you share your pictures on Facebook or Twitter and link Lutheran Church of Hope or @hopelutheranak. Talk about how Jesus is always with you.
2. Baptism Bubbles- Remember your baptism(s) on occasion by blowing bubbles at each other. Talk about baptism both as a kind of washing and a welcoming. When the bubbles pop, think about how our sins (little or big things that we do that might hurt others or ourselves) are forgiven by God and can be forgiven by others. Sometimes bubbles leave residue, like sins have consequences. However, no matter what they do not last forever and they cannot separate us from God’s love.
3. Holy Communion guide- There’s a hand drawn sheet that talks about what we believe about Holy Communion. You might read through it a couple times or talk about Jesus eating with his friends. It’s important on occasion to talk about how your food gets to you (how God gets the food to you)… all the way from the seed (or the salmon roe) to your table. We are all connected.
4. Holy Communion instructions- These are here. At least once a month during your travels, take a little time as a family (2, 3, 4, 10). Get a plate and a cup (special or not) and a few crackers or a piece of bread and some grape juice or wine. (My parents let us have a sip of wine as a part of home communion as a kid.) Talk about Jesus being with his friends. Think of the words of communion and the words “For you”. Offer the elements to each other with that phrase. Pray together. Light your candle for this ritual and talk about what it felt like afterwards.
5 and 6. Sharpie and Beachball- Inflate your beach ball on occasion and write things for which you are thankful on it. Make this a habit- every 2-3 days- big fish, fun bonfire, visit from Grandma, trip to the zoo, clear sky… write them on the ball. If you meet up with family or friends as part of your adventures, have them sign the ball. Deflate it when the ink is dry and put it back in your kit. At the end of the summer, you’ll have a tangible reminder of all your thanksgivings of the summer. We can all bring our balls at the end of August and share our thanksgivings!
7. Paper, pencils, sharpener, and stickers- Use for praying in color (drawing a picture as part of praying or making a list), drawing pictures, writing lists or playing games.
8. Feelings Play-Doh- When someone needs a timeout, they may also need the feelings playdoh. They can use the dough to sculpt out their frustrations or pound them flat. Using something tactile in a timeout may seem like allowing playtime, but for younger kids- having to stay in one place with low stimulation- can really help. If the dough sits on the table, it sits. Sometimes grownups may need it too. You can use this in a conversation about choices or consequences as well.
9. Candle- The candle is for your communion, baptism, or forgiveness rituals. The congregation is also going to light a candle every Sunday morning to help them remember to pray for Pastor Julia on her sabbatical. You could do the same.
10. Blessing Chalk Use chalk to make a little washable graffiti where it’s safe and acceptable. A prayer for the boat or the car, on the side walk, at the park, etc. Bless your activities and the people involved.
11. VBS reminder card, Songbook, and suggestion sheet. I hope this is self-explanatory. :)
Bible Apps for Kids (some are free, some are not, most are also available on Android based devices)
The Beginner’s Bible (iPad) by Zondervan
Adventure Bible Lite (or complete) (iPad) by Zondervan
Jesus Calling for Kids (iPhone) by HarperCollins ($9.99)
Smart Kids: Underground Mysteries (iPhone) by Barcelone Multimedia
(You may find others that are suitable for your family. These are just a couple recommendations. You might want to consider downloading a Bible app or devotional app for yourself.)
Recommended Children’s Bibles
Whirl Story Bible (available online or from LCOH)
Spark Story Bible
The Beginner’s Bible for Toddlers
Sprout Bible (WaterBrook Press)
Seedling Bible (WaterBrook Press)
Remember that a children’s Bible (like Whirl or Spark) is written at about a 3rd grade reading and comprehension level. If that’s not where your child is, you may wish to get a Bible aimed for younger readers. The best Bible to get is the one you will read! :)
Recommended translations for adults (if you’re curious):
New Revised Standard Version [NRSV] (most authentic academic translation)
Common English Version [CEV] (readable)
The Message translation (extremely readable paraphrase from direct translation)
New International Version [NIV] (readable)
****A “Study Bible” has footnotes to help you understand translation decisions and historical information. A “Devotional Bible” may have the same things, but will also have insets or guidance for how to pray about or interpret certain passages. Bibles marketed at specific genders, races, denominations, or age groups are exactly what they sound like. Be aware that everyone has a reason for what they’re writing or selling (even Pastor Julia).
We have enclosed a Heavenly Sunshine songbook in your kit. If you aren’t sure of the tunes, try YouTube. Look for kids singing the song. You may also consider buying “Wee Sing Bible Songs” or another children’s hymn album. Remember the Vacation Bible School songs will be Christmas carols.