Pat’s My Story
My name is Pat. I did my Cursillo weekend in 2008, the one that ended in a snowstorm. Maybe this was significant in some way!
From that time onwards my awareness of Jesus, as the light and freedom of my life has been very strong. I am reminded of Ps 16 v 11 which has always been a highlight for me since that weekend….
“You have made known, to me, the path of my life. You will fill me with the joy, of your presence.”
I try to bring others to know Christ through, my everyday life and from working with a Toddler group and Messy Church.
The idea of Jesus being a part of everyday life, in a community, a family, with friends or alone, is how His life was and is. Real life is something we all know, like our own childhood. Groups of people with children are so natural and for me this is often where worship seems most obvious.
I trained as a nursery teacher, in the days when the training covered children’s development from birth–7 years; and involved working in premature baby units; children’s homes; hospitals for sick children; as well as in nurseries and primary schools. Since those days the preciousness, privilege and joy of being a part of a child’s life has always been very important. Many “God moments” come from babies and children. Stories in the bible, about children, especially those involving Jesus, are special moments for us to see the simplicity of His unconditional love.
At St James the Less, after the traditional Sunday school closed, I felt I should became involved with a Toddler group, where there was a vacancy. I guess this is the next part of my journey although I didn’t realise it at the time.
This is a popular family group, where all are welcome. It’s a relaxed place for adults and children, hosted by a committed team of helpers. Here children have freedom of movement and their carers can play beside them or watch over them as they wish, helping them to make choices and decisions independently. Visiting adults are responsible for their own children but as time has gone on, more adults are interacting with each other, and each other’s children… Phones and iPad have become less central to the session.
Creating the best atmosphere and offering appropriate activities, makes it possible for everyone to find a place to fit in, hopefully to feel valued, respected and loved. We pray that they may feel God’s love and care from our team as we invite them into our community and love to listen to them.
We conclude each term with special times, at Christmas and Mothering Monday with blessings and gifts; Easter with eggs and activities and picnics in the summer often accompanied by music. All registered children receive a Christian birthday card from the toddler Group.
Then Messy Church appeared ….
Messy church was developed in this country, following the decline of traditional Sunday school in about 2004, by Lucy Moore, from a parish church near Portsmouth.
Our PCC arranged a Messy Church training day, given by Ishmael and Irene Smale. A wonderful day I believe.
As a result, a small group was set up to examine the feasibility of setting up one Messy Church event as a trial. That was 4 years ago.
It took a year, or thereabouts, to plan. After many hours of talk and prayer we began with Noah’s Ark….. We’ve now just completed, event 14 and so God is leading us on… we know not where.
That day over 100 people attend in our hall. It was overwhelming. It felt like feeding the 5000. It was a WOW day and the meal just about stretched to satisfy everyone.
Once we had read some of Lucy Moore’s information, we were hooked on the idea of Messy Church. Many more publications are now available offering thoughtful stimulation for this mission. The Messy Church (MC) website, numerous books and articles, feed thousands of people with ideas, theology and contacts. It is becoming a worldwide mission. There are now over 3,500 registered MC groups in total. www.messychurch.org.uk
Our MC is run by a committee of 10 people and headed by Fr. Stephen. There are 4 essential areas of responsibility which are shared amongst us—these are basics to the message of the ministry.
2. Bible story/ creativity
4. Sharing a hot meal together.
We have added other areas to facilitate advertising and finance. All meetings start and end with pray [we have about 3 meetings for each event on average]
My job is to come up with 8-10 activities, games or crafts, that relate to, or illustrate the Bible theme. I found this completely daunting at first, becoming stressed and feeling very inadequate. When preparing activities, prayer has been an amazing help for me. I like to go to quiet place for a good part of a day and share this with God, then give it over to Him. Sometimes in that day I may have some ideas or NONE. But I sleep peacefully that night knowing He will be there for me. After a few days, many activities have come to me from all directions. I then work with the team to select the most appropriate. This has happened on a regular basis.
The numbers of people who have contributed to MC has been amazing. Nearly all the traditional congregation have helped in some way, not least by praying for us as we prepare, and on the day. MC doesn’t suit everyone but this doesn’t prevent people from searching and collecting strange items, cutting out at home, making and assembling, or cooking.
Our last event was attended by 97 visitors [a total of 202 in 2015] but excitingly some parents and toddlers came, as well as many regular Messy Church families and new ones. At this crowded event visitors prayed for the work we were doing, thanked us many times and a toddler parent said at the next Toddler meeting. “Messy Church was so lovely and I know God was there”
Throughout our MC journey we’ve had support, encouragement and some visits from Martyn Payne a Messy Church Mission team leader. He is a Christian inspiration himself, as are his workshop events.
An afternoon Easter family service, in Church was started this year for the first time, both Toddler and MC families came to this along with new families. For some this was a first visit inside our Church.
I am reminded that we are all God’s Children, and He sent His son to teach us how to accept, welcome and love everyone.
God Bless you and thank you for reading My Story.