November in NextGen

IMG_3855Orchard Students [Middle School and High School]

This month we will continue our Echo the Story curriculum unit exploring Isaiah, Jeremiah, 1st and 2nd Kings, Daniel, and Nehemiah. Help donate towards students’ sketch journals here!

Our Hangout:

  • Friendsgiving! Thursday, November 17th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Oak Street. We will eat dinner together and play games. Please bring a food or beverage to share! More details here.


Orchard Kids [Nursery, Preschool, and Elementary]

This month in Orchard Kids we will be exploring the story rotation, “The Sower” based on Matthew 13.

  • “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!” …18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
  • Our weekly affirmations are:
  1. I can listen for God’s voice.
  2. God’s love helps me to grow.


Orchard Parents [resources to equip you for the journey]

When we want to become more aware of Divine Presence; when we feel a desire to have a relationship with God or feel a longing to make a connection with a spiritual reality, where do we look? What do we look for? How do we know if we succeed? This month presents just a few ways to open discussion with children and students and help them explore both the concept of an infinite, omnipresent, impersonal God and also the concept of a deeply personal, divine presence. Neither can be completely understood by any form, expression, or outward experience. God is everywhere, infinite in expression, and accessible to all.

God is beyond all names. “I am who I am” suggests “I am beyond any name you can give me.” Christian theology has always maintained that our words and images about God are only pointers to a mystery beyond our comprehension. Understood as metaphor, as an attempt to help us relate with a mystery beyond our understanding, the notion of God as Person can be helpful. It is in our Scriptures and in our Christian tradition. We do a disservice to the mystery that is God, however, when we literalize this notion and create the illusion that God is an entity somewhere, such as heaven, and that some people can have exclusive access to this God.

There is another way of thinking about God and prayer. It is the way of Jesus. Jesus spoke in Aramaic. When he taught people about the “kingdom of heaven/God,” when he told them they would “see God, when he spoke to them about being “children of God,” when he taught them the prayer we know as “Our Father who art in heaven,” his listeners did not hear “God” as if God were a deity far removed from them. They heard Jesus speaking of “God” as “Breath,” “Oneness,” and “Unity” resonating all throughout the universe. This was in keeping with the concept of God embedded in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is also in keeping with the first thing most Christians are told about God: God is everywhere.

Jesus urged his listeners to be attentive to this presence which he named, in accord with his religious tradition, Divine Breath, the One, and Unity present in our breathing, in our words, and in our loving. He challenged them to give the best possible human expression to this presence always with them.
Our method and our goal in teaching children and students about God should reflect Jesus’ method and goal: constantly affirm the divine presence in everyday life and activities; challenge listeners to reflect this presence in all their words and actions.

Notice the myriad of ways God’s presence is made apparent in your life. You may become aware of God’s presence through the kind words of a friend, the beautiful colors of a rainbow, or the gentle touch of a child. The words below, a translation of the Indian chant, “Oh, God Beautiful,” serve as a reminder of some of the many ways God’s presence is reflected in our everyday lives.
In the forest, you are green.
In the mountains, you are high.
In the river, you are restless.
In the ocean, thou art grave.
To the serviceful, you are service.
To the lover, you are love.
To the sorrowful, you are sympathy.
Keep a small notebook with you throughout one day, taking time to jot down the way God’s presence manifests itself to you.