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January 2015: Christian Education News by Natalie Bloomquist

I think I can say that this Advent was the first time I was truly focused on the discipline of waiting. I will admit that I really didn’t have a choice. After my surgery at the beginning of December, I was unable to do much of anything. What a gift! Because the deadline for  submission of articles for the newsletter comes before Emanuel’s Celebration of the Nativity on December 21, you are reading this after experiencing the joy of the event, but I am writing in anticipation. Ever since the first Festival of the Nativity twenty years ago, I have had some area of responsibility every single year. This year I have been completely on the sidelines. What a gift! The Holy Spirit is at work at Emanuel, and there are so many people of all ages sharing their time and talents so that the birth of our Savior may be proclaimed and His Love shared with everyone. They are equipped, energized, and excited to share their faith. What a gift! Director Becki Murphy’s desire to separate tradition for tradition’s sake from the need to bring the story to hearers in the 21st century – and to do so in an intergenerational way – is inspiring. We have Kelly Caldwell, a confirmation youth,  empowered to serve as Assistant Director.  We have Linnea Bloomquist, a Millennial (who  supposed to be disenchanted with the Church), combining her talent and faith to bring  Emanuel’s beloved script to contemporary hearers. And we have the beauty of the generations (Sunday School children, Confirmation youth, teachers, parents, and members) coming together to lead us in celebrating Jesus’ birth. What a gift! Following the Narrative Lectionary also helped our Advent preparation for Baby Jesus. Having spent the last four months exploring Old Testament stories that point us to the need for the Christ Child, I believe our Sunday School children and Confirmation youth will find even  deeper meaning and relevancy as we begin our journey with the Gospel of Matthew in  January. I have heard from teachers how much more engaged the children are with the biblical stories because they have first been a part of the worshipping community’s engagement with the story. And I have heard from parents how much easier it is to facilitate conversations of faith with their children and youth after spending time together discovering and wrestling with the Word and its meaning in their lives. What a gift!