About the Jan/Feb 2017 issue
In the midst of the complex problems of our world, simply encouraging someone may seem insignificant. But haven’t we all been helped through difficult times by encouraging words or gestures? Often we are so absorbed in our own problems or so consumed by the negative messages around us that we simply don’t think to encourage others. Or perhaps we don’t see how powerful our encouraging words and actions can be. We want to help children see what it means to “encourage one another and build up each other” (1 Thess. 5:11 NRSV) and how doing so may make a difference in someone else’s life. We don’t want to suggest that a child can “fix” someone else’s problems. Instead we want to affirm that encouraging words and actions are among the ways that each of us can show God’s love to those around us every day.
In “Barney’s Homework,” a school assignment requires Barney to learn the meaning of his day and spend a day living up to it. When he learns his name, Barnabas, means “son of encouragement,” he’s sure he won’t be able to complete the assignment.
In “Thanks for Your Support,” Grace and her friends are all trying out for the class play. Shy Grace tries to get reassurance from her friends by complimenting them but finds they get annoyed after a while.
In “Tree Frog Trail,” Nate finds a way to encourage Callie even though he’s tired of her grouchy moods since the birth of her little sister.
In “Gliding,” Kenji remembers how he learned to ice skate and takes time to help a friend’s little brother learn.
In “Where’s My High Five?” Ruby is nervous about being teamed with two much more skillful basketball players for a three-on-three tournament.
Pocketsful of Scripture we’re reading about Jonah in January and John the Baptist in February.
Where in God’s World? looks at Moldova.
Children have a strong sense of what is and is not “fair.” That can make forgiving someone who has wronged them difficult (as it often is for adults!). Admitting fault and asking for forgiveness is often equally challenging. In ways that are relevant to children’s everyday lives, this issue should explore what it means to forgive, to be forgiven, and to be reconciled. Why do we need to forgive? How do we forgive? What does it mean to forgive “seventy-seven times” (Matthew18:22 NRSV)?
April 2017—New Life
By the time most children reach middle-school age, they will have experienced some significant loss: a move that leaves old friends behind, the death of a beloved pet or perhaps a grandparent, a divorce in the family or some other disruptive event. The good news of Easter—Christ is alive!—is that out of sadness, disappointment, and brokenness God can bring new life. We never want to gloss over or trivialize the real pain that children experience with loss. But we want to help them recognize that even in loss and endings there is opportunity for growth and new direction.