How the Church tells time

October 12, 2010

Our nomadic existence this past couple of years has caused my affection to grow for traditions that facilitate a rhythm of worship for our family and that help us feel connected to the Church no matter where we are in the world. I am delighted to celebrate our unity with believers everywhere, and in so doing, to testify to the immeasurable depths of grace, reconciliation and love we experience through Jesus. In moments of loneliness and disorientation during our sojourns, I am especially thankful for tangible, visual reminders of our adoption into God’s large family.

There is a fabulous wooden puzzle introduced in Stewart and Berryman’s book “Young Children and Worship” (that can be purchased at Worship Woodworks) meant to teach children about the seasons and special days in the Christian calendar that can guide our worship throughout the year. It is called “How the Church tells time.” I wanted something a little more portable, a little less pricey, and, honestly, I was also looking for ways to use up our big stack of construction paper before our next move. So we created a church calendar with paper beads and string.

To make the calendar you need:

  • some pencils that you don’t mind getting a little yucky
  • 1 part glue and 1 part water mixed together in a bowl
  • a surface to dry your beads on
  • some red, white, green, blue and purple construction paper (you can use just purple or a purplish blue instead of both blue and purple as I did…or whatever you have on hand!)
  • 1 length of twine to string your beads on
  • A gold marker
  • A large safety pin and a button, or a piece of string, or anything that you can attach between beads to mark the current week

Cut 3/4 to 1 inch wide strips of construction paper in the following quantities:

  • 1 red strip for Pentecost (you might want to make a couple extra while you are at it just in case something goes wrong)
  • 8 white strips, 1 for Christmas and 7 for Easter
  • 4 blue strips for Advent
  • 6 purple strips for Lent ( I just cut 10 purplish-blue strips for both Advent and Lent, but someday I will make real purple strips for Lent)
  • 33 green strips for Ordinary Time

Of course you can vary the colors according to how your church celebrates that various seasons. If you want to learn more about the seasons and find ideas about how to structure your family devotions accordingly, you can visit CRI/Voice’s page for a detailed explanation.

Dip the strips of paper in the glue/water mixture, thoroughly saturating the strip and squeezing off the excess glue with your fingers. You are going to get a little messy. Wrap the strips of paper around your pencil to form a bead (I was able to fit about five or six per pencil). Let the beads dry until they are solid enough to slip off the pencil, but you might want to take them off before they are completely dry to avoid having them stick to the pencil. Let them dry thoroughly off the pencil.

When your beads are dry, draw a gold cross on one white Easter bead, and gold star on the white Christmas bead. Then string the beads on your twine in the following order: 24 green beads, 1 red bead, 6 plain white beads, the white bead with the golden cross, 6 purple beads, 9 green beads, the white bead with the golden star, and 4 blue/purple beads. Knot your beaded twine into a circle and tuck the ends of the string through the beads on each side of the knot. Choose a way to mark the current week – I used a big safety pin with a button attached to hang before the week that we are celebrating.  You can figure out what week we are at here.

Move the marker each Sunday during a devotional time or after a worship service. This has been so helpful to me on many levels, not only in infusing our family worship with a beautiful rhythm, but also in keeping the big seasons of Christmas and Easter from sneaking up on me! Enjoy.

One Response to “How the Church tells time”

  1. Jessica said

    Hey! I just found your blog and I passed it on the my mom and her husband. I love this calendar too! Thanks for sharing with the world! -Jess

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