Ashley's Words

The ministries happening here at GUMC are incredible, and I am lucky to be a minor part in some of them.  I pray that my weekly blogs/letters help to let you know what is happening here and how you might join in with our ministries.  Blessings to you!

ACES Teacher Letter

January 26, 2020

Good Morning Teachers!

 

It is an interesting and amazing time of year.  Every year, I find myself sitting with uncomfortable feelings of now-and-very-soon.  For instance, I just wrote my annual letter to the Confirmands to let them know that we’re in the homestretch of Confirmation.  Or, when I look at the calendar, we’re already looking at planning Lent and Easter…which leads into May and pastoral changes and summer things.  It seems that I have to catch myself from looking too far ahead sometimes, because I lose myself in the future—which, if you know me, is quite fascinating, because I’m the plan-ahead person in the office.

 

Now, this could be due in part to the icy, cold, snowy reality that lives just beyond my windows…that I happen to abhor…but I think it’s more the pace of our lives and the reality of our culture.  So, each time that my mind starts to skip days and weeks and months ahead (not just to casually glance there, but to reside there), I remind myself of the dinner I’m looking forward to making with my family, the board-game that the kids are excited to play with us, and the books that are sitting at home waiting to be read.  I remind myself of those tiny baby feet that won’t be so small much longer (Uncle Jon’s babies that I borrow…not my own anymore), those giggles and cuddles that will probably disappear during those teenage years, and the grandmother’s wisdom and stories I have yet to soak in.  And, then I realize that, perhaps, these are the plans that need to be made more than any of the other things I was thinking anyway….

 

Souper Bowl This Week

This Sunday after the 10:30 worship everyone is invited to join the youth for their annual soup lunch to help raise money for missions.  They’ll have their traditional chicken noodle, chili, and cheesey vegetable soups along with a variety of desserts.

 

Gifts for Jesus Tree

Our tree will remain in the Friendship Center all month long.  Things to bring in can include items like:  peanut butter, canned fruit, canned veggies, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, noodle casseroles, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, and personal care items—feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, laundry detergent, razors, shaving cream, dental floss, diaper rash cream, diapers and wipes.  You can leave these items in your classroom for me to pick up and take to place underneath the tree, or you can put them under the tree as a class together.

 

Take Away Hunger Meal Packaging

We only have two more weeks of fundraising for this meal packaging event.  The past several years we have packaged between 5,700 and 7,000 meals.  This equates to about $1,400 to $1,750.  Currently, we have raised $200.  So, we have a bit of a ways to go!  A quarter equals one meal, so literally every cents counts!  If you can pass on the word—both for fundraising and attending for packaging—we would greatly appreciate the help.  We will also have a table for Tiger Packs, as I have a large shipment of those items to put together these packs for the remainder of the school year.

 

This week, I will be with the Confirmation class for Faith Friend/parent Sunday and then with the soup-making group.  So, if you need anything, feel free to catch Dime Dude, or you can always ask me before Sunday.

 

In faith and love

Ashley

ACES Teacher Letter

January 19, 2020

Good Morning Teachers!

 

I was reading an article today about Jesus’ baptism, and, even though this was the lectionary texts for worship last week, we will be focusing on this text in our Intergenerational lesson for this week.  I found the words in the ministry matters article so beautiful.  Feel free to read the full article here:  https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/10051/love-is-not-a-transaction.  But, here are a few pieces that I loved…

 

“For starters, John baptizes Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, John seems a bit confused and embarrassed by this. John tells Jesus, “Shouldn’t you be baptizing me?”  But Jesus insists.  That’s because he wants us to see that you can’t baptize yourself.  You can’t baptize yourself because baptism is God’s own declaration that she loves you.  You are the beloved.  That’s different from saying that you love yourself.  Being the beloved means that someone else is all in with you, no matter what.”

 

“Finally, in Matthew’s telling, we hear a voice from heaven say, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17) Initially you may think that the voice’s declaration about being “well pleased” undermines everything I’ve just said.  “See,” you might think, “God does want us to please her.”  Well, try this translation on for size.  “This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I delight.”  God’s delight is not a response to Jesus’ achievements.  God loves Jesus simply because he is.  There is no other like him, because God made him.  For the sheer delight of it.  God made Jesus to love him.  And God made each of us to love us.  To delight in us.  There is no other like us.”

 

“God is already delighted with you.  Stop trying to please God.  And once you do, you may find that you can love yourself and love your neighbor in the way that Jesus taught us to do.”

 

ACES Intergenerational This Week

This week we will have our Intergenerational lesson to kick off our Unit 3.  I’m excited about the fun that we’re going to have!  Our schedule will be a bit different, as we want to make sure our music leaders have some time to start/continue work with their music groups for worship that is coming up in February.  So, here’s our morning schedule:

            9:15-9:30am:  Gather in our respective music groups; older ages gather in the Friendship Center to help with Intergenerational set-up and conversation

            9:30-10:15am:  Intergenerational lesson in the Friendship Center

 

Pastor Lee Schott from Women at the Well

Pastor Schott will be joining us on Sunday to help lead worship.  She is also going to be in the Wesley Room to speak with MASS and others who would like to hear about the ministry of Women at the Well, her experiences, and possibly her book Foolish Church.

 

Gifts for Jesus Tree

Our tree will remain in the Friendship Center all month long.  Things to bring in can include items like:  peanut butter, canned fruit, canned veggies, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, noodle casseroles, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, and personal care items—feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, laundry detergent, razors, shaving cream, dental floss, diaper rash cream, diapers and wipes.  You can leave these items in your classroom for me to pick up and take to place underneath the tree, or you can put them under the tree as a class together.

 

Take Away Hunger Meal Packaging

This year, we will tie our event into our Unit 3-Living-on February 9th.  We are starting our fundraising efforts for this event.  How much money we raise determines how many meals we can package, so talk up this event and invite people to both donate and get involved!  This is our event where we get into various lines, measure out ingredients, dump them into plastic bags, weigh them, seal them, and put the bags into plastic bags.  These meals have been sent throughout the world, but many of them remain in the United States and close to home (Des Moines and even Grinnell) to help feed the hungry.

 

In faith and love

Ashley

ACES Teacher Letter

January 12, 2020

Good Morning Teachers!

 

I just spent the evening with a bunch of kids.  I’m talking “kids” of all ages.  These were the type of people who danced around in conversation between humorous (but make-you-groan) puns, times of talking-over-one-another chaotic speaking, Bible-reading frenzied speaking, slow and methodical conversation, and everything in between.  This was a night full of life, joy, fun, passion, and chaos.  For some, that description may feel overwhelming and awful.  For others, that description may excite them.

 

What’s most important to me about this night was the overwhelming variety of people who came together, who gathered, who were welcomed, who wanted to be there, and who found a place and a space to be themselves.  Out of this evening, I have three possible worship liturgies, six adults who enjoyed their time who were welcomed into “youth ministry” as they are, 15 youth who could be themselves and have fun while finding meaning in a safe space with loving adults, and an interesting idea to start off planning Youth Sunday.  

 

Ministry is chaotic and can seem as if nothing is being accomplished sometimes.  But outside of the lessons, there are lessons—the same lessons that we try to teach within the lessons sometimes.  In the playing of a game we teach how we treat others.  In the way we go about treating each other in our classrooms—greeting them, responding to them, providing space for them to be who they are—we are teaching them lessons.  And they teach us lessons, too…all sorts of lessons! 

 

For me, I am learning that my “classroom”extends far beyond just children and youth.

 

ACES Curriculum

The curriculum for our next ACES Unit will be emailed and placed in your ACES rooms this week.  There is a slight caveat to all of this, in that there is one missing lesson on February 16th in both lesson packets.  This is because I have yet to receive the next set of curriculum in the mail.  So, when I receive the next set, I will update that last lesson and send it your way/print it out for you all.  I hope you enjoy Unit 3 as much as we enjoyed putting it together!  It will be filled with a lot of hands-on activities and great discussions.

 

Gifts for Jesus Tree

As we finish up our last lessons on Epiphany today, this is just a quick reminder of our Gifts for Jesus tree.  It will remain up in our Friendship Center all month long (even though we move into our next Unit).  And, the idea of continuing to live out our Christmas call and live into the disciples Jesus calls us to be will still resonate greatly in our next Unit.  Things to bring in can include items like:  peanut butter, canned fruit, canned veggies, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, noodle casseroles, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, and personal care items—feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, laundry detergent, razors, shaving cream, dental floss, diaper rash cream, diapers and wipes.  You can leave these items in your classroom for me to pick up and take to place underneath the tree, or you can put them under the tree as a class together.

 

Take Away Hunger Meal Packaging

Speaking of our next Unit…I know we aren’t even finished with Unit 2, but we are already rolling out preparations and PR for our annual church-wide meal packaging event.  This year, we will tie our event into our Unit 3-Living-on February 9th.  This Sunday will have an insert on ways to start getting involved or start thinking about getting involved.

 

In faith and love

Ashley

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