4.30.2006

kids in church

here is a letter written by a priest from a nearby parish, about kids in church.

what do you think?

As God has seen fit to grant our mission growth, we are now experiencing growing pains. Particularly, we are learning how to incorporate families with young children into our parish life. I think over the last little while both parents and the community at large has felt some discomfort as parents have struggled to learn how to teach their children to behave in Church. With this in mind, I would like to address both the community at large and parents on the matter of young children in Church.

For the community at large, we must remember first that young children are just as much a part of the Church as the oldest and wisest Parish Counsel members. These children are our future, and patiently teaching them to love the Church is not only the responsibility of parents, but of all of us. Those of us without children must patiently and compassionately endure the small disturbances that young children make. Moreover, those of us who are parents of older children must be ready to help when called upon–and more than that, we should be offering young parents our help.

Jesus said, “suffer the little children to come to me.” Yes, “suffer” here means allow, but it also means to endure with patience whatever is necessary so that young children can come to Christ. For some, disturbance in prayer is a cross that will bring about not only their own salvation, but also the salvation of others. Raising children who love the Church is probably the most difficult task most parents will ever struggle through. The prayers, help and patience of all of us is necessary for parents to be successful.

On a practical note, I strongly suggest that those who find themselves very disturbed by young children in worship, stand as close to the front of the Church as possible. This will help them. First, it will help because it will make room in the back of the church for parents with children. Parents with small children usually come to church the latest (which, all of us who are parents certainly understand). However, when they arrive, there is no room in the back of the Nave, so they end up moving toward the front. Now everyone must watch the children, whether they are cute or misbehaving, everyone is watching the children instead of paying attention to the prayers. Standing forward also provides another benefit. When we stand forward in the Church to pray, we have to turn our head to look away from the Icons. If we keep our heads forward, we are better able to pray despite distractions around us.


For parents of small children, I would like to address the following comments. First, as I mentioned above, raising our children to love God and His Church is the greatest and most important ministry of our lives. God has designed the process of Christian child rearing as one of the primary ways to work in our lives the Christ-like virtues that save our souls: 1Timothy 2:15 says, “But she will be saved through childbearing, if they abide in faith and love and sanctification with sober-mindedness.” Many fathers of the Church comment that this is not merely a reference to giving birth, but to the whole process of bearing (raising) children to “abide in faith and love.”

However, like every great endeavor that God sets before us, raising children to love God and His Church requires one quality in parents that is the foundation of all others: humility. Children will, sooner or later, humble parents. The sooner parents accept this, the better for the child. Each child is a distinct human person. Training each child requires insight beyond the ability of any one set of parents. God does not expect parents to know how to raise their children by themselves. This was never part of God’s plan. Parents are to raise children with the help and advice of wise older relatives and friends who have already successfully raised children. When parents of young children ask the help and advice of older parents, they receive two important advantages. First, they receive advice that has been tried by time. Older parents can tell stories of what they have tried and what has worked and what has not. When Bonnie and I began having Children, we were far away from any family because I was still going to school. We had no relatives to turn to for help, so we sought advice from older parents in our Church who had children that we wanted our children to grow up to be like. These older parents gave us advice. They recommended books and answered questions for us. They taught us practical ways to discipline our children, ways that actually worked. And most of all, they encouraged us in our struggle; they let us know that we were normal.

The second advantage young parents can receive from older parents is the truth–if they really love you. Older parents can tell you the truth about whether what you are doing with your own child is working well or not. I remember how painful it was for me when my best friend told me that I was spoiling my oldest daughter. I couldn’t believe him–I thought I was a good parent. Finally, I had to accept, even if I couldn’t see it myself at the time, that I needed to be more strict; for, even though I couldn’t see that I was spoiling my child, others could.

Of course, each child and each family circumstance is unique. There is no 100% method for raising godly children, and all advice must be considered humbly and prayerfully. However, the first and most important step young parents can take in raising children that love God and His Church is to recognize that they do not know how to do it, and that without God’s help and plenty of advice from wiser older parents who have successfully raised children, they will not succeed. A mother’s and father’s love has the miraculous power to show a child what God’s love is like. At the same time, because we are fallen in sin, parental love can blind us and keep us from seeing what we don’t want to see in our children. Thank God, the remedy for all sin is in the Church. By humbling ourselves and asking for help (for if we do not ask, we do not receive St. James says), we can find grace and help in time of need. In the Church, God has provided everything necessary for salvation, but like all other gifts from God, the gift of wise parenting is not found in any one individual. It is distributed in the Church so that we must seek it out and humbly receive from one another.

Assuming that young parents want help raising their children to love God and His Church, the following are a few suggestions. First, for others–not parents of small children–don’t try to give advice or help unless you are asked to do so. Please respect the freedom and responsibility of parents to raise and discipline, or not discipline, their own children as seems best to them. It is a serious mistake and true evidence of pride and arrogance to think you know better how to raise a child than the child’s parents. You may, of course, offer to help. But if your help is not wanted at that time, you must commit the matter to prayer assuming that God has not given you wisdom to help at that moment. Certainly, young parents need our prayers much more than they need our advice.

Second, teaching young children to behave in Church begins by teaching them at home, in the home-church. Teaching young children to say prayers at home and to sit or stand quietly while their parents say prayers is a very important part of teaching children to be well behaved in Church. For example, a mother who had been in the habit of only praying while her child napped, might begin at a different time by teaching the child to sit quietly on a small blanket while she said the Trisagion prayers. After doing this every day (or even twice a day) for a while, she could add a few more prayers. In a few weeks, the child will be accustomed to sitting quietly for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time while mother prayed. This behavior is then easily transferred to Church. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you want to change a child’s behavior in Church, you must begin by practicing at home. I know of one family with several children that used to play Church at home. One of the children would put a blanket on his shoulders and pretend to be the priest and the sisters would pretend to be the choir. They acted out the Great Entrance and even pretended to receive Holy Communion. In this way, the parents taught the children correct behavior in Church. Whether or not this method was ideal, it seemed to work for this family.

Third, when children misbehave in Church, as they inevitably do, parents must take them out of the Nave before they start to make a lot of noise. If one or two quiet “shushes” don’t work, it’s time to take the child out. There is, however, a technique to taking children out of the Nave. If you take a child out of the Nave for misbehavior, the child should not be rewarded by being allowed to do something pleasant in the other room. That is, when a child is removed for misbehavior, his or her experience in the other room should be less pleasant than in the Nave. At the same time, a parent needs to pay attention to how much time his or her child can endure without a break. If you notice that your child has been well behaved for a while and it is about time for a little break, take out your child for a little walk or to color in the other room for a while. Be sure to tell him or her that this is a reward for their good behavior in the Nave. Then when you take the child out for misbehavior, the child will know the difference.

Having said this, I acknowledge that every now and then there are bad days. The child may be teething or have a little bug. At such times, parents have to do whatever works best at the moment keeping in mind that a parent’s first duty to Christ is to care for the child. God will hear the prayers of a mother or father rocking a teething baby in the nursery just as well as if they were standing in the Nave. At the same time, others in the Nave will be able to pray more peacefully without the continual noise of a child who is out of sorts that day. In every area of our life, we must find balance–this is no less true in how we raise our children. But if the truth be told, the bad days are not really the problem. Bad days and good days are part of the cycle of our lives. The real matter is what we do on normal days: children are not taught by exceptions, they are taught by regular activity and patterns.

Brothers and sisters, this is the Church: life together, iron sharpening iron, as the Bible says. What does “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ” mean? It means that we will all be somewhat burdened by getting along with one another, loving one another, and learning that noone–not the priest, not the bishop, not the parish counsel, not parents, and not children–noone gets his own way. We are going God’s way, and noone knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God who leads us. So brothers and sisters as together we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, let us be ready to adjust, ready to change and be changed, for this is only the beginning, heaven awaits us.

4.28.2006

Gabe;'s Birthday Party

Gabe is turning 19 on May 11, thursday. So.

Instead of the open house at Phil and Biss's, we are having a wine and cheese kitchen dance party, just like at Anya, Nicole and Christies old place. So, come and join us in rasing a toast to Gabriel, our newest orange brother, as he grows closer to grey hair.

Details to follow

4.27.2006

Beauty

I am so loving the new beauty that I find in people I meet through orthodoxy. sure, there are pretty girls around, but that is not what I mean at all.

I love that beauty is so different, and its hallmarks are things like grey hair and wrinkles, elbow patches and long beards. not because these things are great in themselves, but they signal age, and age wisdom, and wisdom beauty.
talking to a girl the other day, she was so excited to find herself having a couple of grey hairs. I think that is beauty, because she knows that beauty is not just a thing about how you look, but who you are, which becomes formed over time. with age comes beauty, because we are able to walk closer to God the longer we walk.
I look at Father Gregory in Gibsons, or Father John Scratch, and they are such beautiful old men. there is no other word than beauty to describe them, they communicate the love of God with the fiery laughter in their eyes and bellies, and you can't deny God when you meet them. this happens with age, and when people recognize that and long for it, that too is beautiful.

I honestly think that is why I like smoking a pipe and drinking scotch, it is a thing that old people do. I want to be old and grey, because then I will be wise, even if I am also wizened, perhaps beauty will find me then.

Sure, I notice girls who are pretty, but if they start talking, that can be dangerous for all involved. but, if after they talk, they are still beautiful, or even moreso, that is rare.

4.26.2006

Fam-Damily

So, I have a friend who mentioned that I don't talk about my family on my blog. Interesting. I think that is true, so here is a bit of a remedy, I suppose.

I have a mom and a dad and a sister, a half a dog, and a plethora of family friends who are a part of my family.

But, my parents, who live in vancouver, for which I will be eternally grateful, are cool.
I didn't always think so, like everyone who grew through being a teenager, I had my moments of not being a fan of them, but I have grown to see the beauty of the way they loved me. especially a few things recently have shown me how blessed I am. that I have parents who loved me consistently as a child in ways that I don't remember, but see the effects of in others when that is not present. I know they loved me well. I was always well cared for, they brought me up in the church, but also with the knowledge that it was up to me to choose it for myself, and I knew that from a young age. I went to church independently when I was sixteen, sometimes for unhealthy motives, but it turned out pretty good.

My parents are the pinnacle of hospitable people. One of their favourite movies is Babette's Feast, where a poor old lady wins the lottery and spends all of it on a meal for her friends. ( I haven't see it yet, shame on me)

They educated me well in music, gave me lessons in violin, let me play trombone in band, and gave me a radio that I listened to until it perished.
they trusted me to be honest. what an amazing responsibility. they sent me to flyfishing camp. bought me the hunter training course for my birthday. let me have a hunting bow when I was young.

they taught me so many things subtly without didactic instructions, mostly because I wouldn't have listened, but they were valuable lessons. I learned so much about teaching from both of them.

yeah, I love my parents, and they are great. I don't talk about them much because I don't see them too much. a couple times a month maybe, at least once a month, we visit there, or they come here.

My sister and I live together, and its great. we have had some arguments, but we are siblings. its so fun. we are both in the living room right now, typing away on our ibooks, doing homework, well, I was, she is.

yes. my family is beautiful. certainly far from perfect, but beautiful.

4.23.2006

sleep

Is overrated. we went to bed when the sun came up, as we had already been to church that day, celebrating the rising of Christ.

Biss wore her wedding dress to church yesterday, it was so appropriate, I think everyone should wear their wedding dresses to church on Pascha (Easter sunday)

I ate a bratwurst sausage for breakfast. My stomach can't handle too much at once.

My voice is completely used up. no more singing, except, what did we do last night after singing for four hours, went to gregory and rhiannon's house and sightread renaissance music. Byrd and Dowland I think.

Its so beautiful here. I like the light.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

4.20.2006

school, love,

I am so glad to have the practicum supervisor that I have. He is helping me feel excited about school, and he seems to understand that life happens too. A little grace goes a long way. I have gotten incredibly behind in school work, but I am now free to do homework and go to church. My shift is over for the weekend, at least, probably for longer. I need to get back into school, and I can't wait for the weekend.

I have also been thinking about love and relationships. I am about to read Martin Buber's I and Thou (Ich und Du)

One of the main problems I have experienced in relationship, is the way that I enter a situation hoping to gain something. Love, friendship, respect, renown, affection, attention, etc. Whatever it is, however noble the thing is, I still seek to gain it. rather, I have in the past.

I have a great friend (well, I have more than one) but at least one who made a point to show me that she didn't want anything from me other than to share the air. sure, we gave and received at various times, but out of freedom.

I think it would be ideal to express to people that "I don't want you to be anything other or give anything other than you can or are"

Don't fill a role for me, don't look a certain way for me, don't do an activity for me, don't like anything for me. don't do anything for me, do it for you and God.


A recent Ben Harper song puts it well,

"take me as I am, or leave me the way you found me"


_______

In other news, Come to PASCHA! and the vigil. For the schedule, click the link to St. Herman's Blog.

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4.18.2006

Today,

There is no such thing as normal life

4.16.2006

Joyful Day

A beautiful Easter to all who are celebrating the resurrection today, and a joyous feast day to those celebrating palm sunday today. we ate fish and chips, it was great. one day soon I will post a longer, thoughtful post, perhaps reflecting on holy week (which is upon us) or something else. it has been a while since I said "the thing I love most about orthodoxy is..." partially because it is becoming normal life, which is nice. but, one of the things I love most about orthodoxy is that it doesn't matter how I feel about it. whatever it is. I go to church, and do whatever else it is I do, regardless of how I feel about it.

Oh, and last night we watched pirates of the caribbean. good times.

4.14.2006

tuesday

I am now working with Brad until tuesday. see you at church on saturday.

4.12.2006

Honda Strikes Again

Coolest Commercial Ever! Click on the link.

Honda strikes again, with great commercial number two. you thought the car choir was good? well, it was, but this is weird. and good. and, it features a great storyteller as the lead singer. just go watch it.

I am on a break till tomorrow morning.

Did I say how much I respect single parents and foster care givers now? well, if I didn't, that was it.
I am weary. looking forward to Holy Week as a relaxing alternative to being an on call single parent to a well meaning but incredibly difficult young person.

peace,

4.11.2006

Good, long, tiring, full day

I got my belay ticket today! Dan and Brad and I went climbing.

and, during my short break today, I talked with Fr. Lawrence, and it made everything better. I am so glad to know our priests.

4.10.2006

Phillip Sherrard

Christianity and Eros, by Phillip Sherrard is an amazing book. he is taking an apophatic approach to the discussion of marriage and celibacy, talking about how the Fathers saw and thought about marriage. read it. its good.

4.08.2006

community

I am working with a guy named Brad, some of you will meet him at church tomorrow.

He seems to be enjoying his time, so much so that he has asked a few times if I could take his contract, essentially adopt him.
I am not going to, I am not a foster home, so I can't.
but, even to think about it is quite daunting. I would need to have others around to do it with. I see so much the reason that we are meant to do things in community, whether it is a community called family, through marriage, a community called church through baptism/chrismation, a community of monastics, or committed roommates perhaps. but it would be impossible to do it alone. I wil survive working with Brad for a few days, and I am glad for the work.
But if ever anyone were to do this sort of thing, it would need to be with other people.


(the canucks are going to overtime)

Cable is weird. I am glad I don't have it, I would get sucked in often. Living in a hotel is strange, but kind of fun. I will be so ready for holy week after this week is over.

that debate that we got into was very interesting, I hope Gabriel comes to church sometime, and while I do think that debate is fun, I wonder at its fruit. Will semantics or sophiticated words or logic be effective in loving people? I suppose it can be, but I think that is mostly the case when people already know each other.

we'll see.

Canucks Won!

4.07.2006

Work

Sufjan Stevens is releasing the debris from his illinoise album! SO COOL! its coming in june. and, Rosie Thomas is going to be on it. her voice is beautiful.

I am going to be living in the Ramada for a while, in Langley, so if you want to come and hang out and swim, call me. I have the best job ever. I am going to be working for a week straight, or until I need a break. how cool is that.
I will have to do some homework too, but that might work out.

anyways. I will see you at church at least. call me.

4.06.2006

oh life

the leftovers from last nights post church get together watched hotel rwanda. what a way to end a strangely full day. got up early to go to vangroovy for some contact lenses, my rad sister drove all the way there. talked to my Dad about his brother passing away. Shaved my beard (not completement) raced back to TWU to get Tessa on time for class. worked. went to the canon of St. Andrew and heard the life of St. Mary of Egypt. I think we all identify with her, because her pre-saintly days were the opposite of saintly. like us. It was easy to humble myself before her image, knowing how strongly she fought her demons, and how she struggled to overcome sin.

I have been learning that we are able to fight temptation, we are able to overcome it, and sometimes we are even delivered completely from it.

If I ever get too language-y, I am sorry. I hate subculture language, it drives me crazy, but I think I probably am guilty of using it from time to time. sorry.

but I used to think that we had no choice in the matter of sin, that it was just going to happen, but no. we have the choice to sin or not to sin.

fight. hard.

4.04.2006

so close I can taste it

Summer is here! almost. Gregory and I went riding today, I haven't heard about uncle Jack yet.
I am so close to being done school, I need to push hard until the class is over, but when its over, I am going to be SO glad.

and then, I think I need to find a real job. or at least a slightly more part time/regular one.

Uncle Jouko

My Uncle will pass away soon. He is not well, not responding. If you would pray for him, I would appreciate that. He did not care too much for the kingdom, and I wonder how he will act when he finds where he is. In any case, pray for Jack Punsch. Thank you.

4.01.2006

vision

Here is my prophetic vision, as I started to tell Fr. Lawrence. (note dry humour)

we will build on the land adjescent to TWU, just off the road leading to 232nd street overpass/onramp.

Things we will build.

A church with cuppolas
a dorm style building to rent to TWU students with a chapel attached.
Living space for families and singles from church
Living space for a group home of developmentally disabled people, adults or youths.
bookstore/coffee shop/pub/cafe to be called The Book and Bottle
barn.

The way it will work is that the people who will live there will be taking care of the people who need care in the home, and they will run the book and bottle together, giving life and work experience to the people in the home, and providing a good quality establishment for books and bookish people of all kinds to spend time in.
the reason we will be able to get land cheaply is because it will maintain its ALR (agriculture land reserve) status by having vegetables and small farm animals being cultivated. Sheep and goats will be seperated at night by Qjesse, pigs and chickens will be kept in the windiest spot on the property, and vegetables will be grown near the buildings.

All of these will be a perfect setting for holistic education of a)the students that live in the dorm building and b) those who need care, the clients of the care home. (and we will learn too)

we have started work on a curriculum, which is good. I think we can also start looking into how to plan and zone all of this, and where to get money for it. I have some ideas, and when school is over I am going to go and talk to the owner of the property to see what their plans are for it.

okay. this is a year or two away, but closer than we think.
your duty is to start thinking about how you can be involved. Even if it is just living close to the church, that is a good thing. it will take a long time to adjust your thinking, but really, if Christ isn't calling us to downwarn mobility for the sake of the poor, what is he calling us to? and this is not poverty either, it will be the richest experience! we need families to do this too.