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Sabrina LaBelle, Director of Youth and Family Ministries

When I was younger, my parents had a cleaning service that would come every other week. They loved it, but I didn’t! And the reason I didn’t was because my mom would always make my sister and I clean the day before the cleaning company came. I felt like they were missing the point. Of course, now I realize that sometimes it is necessary to tidy up before someone can come in and do a really deep cleaning. (And now that I have kids, I recognize that if I don’t make them do some serious straightening up regularly, things can get out of hand very quickly!)

In some ways, though, this is what Lent is all about. We observe the Lenten season because it gives us the chance to tidy up a little bit, to step outside of our routine and our daily existence and to look closely at our lives, at our choices, at our priorities. The season of Lent grants us the opportunity to reflect on whether we are making plenty of room for God in our lives or whether we are trying to squeeze God in when it’s convenient and easy. It makes us think about the sacrifice that Jesus made – not in a negative, guilt-inducing kind of way; instead, Lent makes us think about the sacrifice that Jesus made in a grace-filled, life-giving, forgiveness is guaranteed, kind of way.

We go into the Lenten season knowing that it is a finite 40-day journey that will end with Easter morning. We may make changes or sacrifices, but we do so knowing that resurrection is coming. How good it is to know that God’s light shines even in our darkest times.

I recently read a meditation by former Pope, Benedict the XVI, as he reflected on the cross, that might be a good one for us to think about as we continue through this season of Lent:

“Brothers and sisters, our gaze is frequently distracted by scattered and passing earthly interests; let us direct our gaze today toward Christ. Let us pause to contemplate his Cross. The Cross is the source of immortal life, the school of justice and peace, the universal patrimony of pardon and mercy… His nailed arms are open to each human being and they invite us to draw near to him, certain that he accepts us and clasps us in an embrace of infinite tenderness: ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’” (John 12: 32).

Parents of Young Children Fellowship Group

We will be meeting for a playdate at a park in March. Time and place to be determined. If you are interested in taking part in this group or if you have any other ideas for activities for this group, please email Sabrina LaBelle: smgvasta@gmail.com

First Communion classes for 2nd graders

All second graders are invited to participate in the next Faith Stepping Stone, which is preparation for First Communion. 3rd graders are also invited to participate if they have not yet taken First Communion.

There will be three mandatory classes: Sundays, March 5th, 12th, and 19th, from 10:45 – 11:30 at the church. At least one parent must attend with their child.

In addition, all students will be invited to make a chalice at All Fired Up! in Collingswood on Saturday, March 11 at 11:00am as a group (or on your own if you can’t make that Saturday time). Email Director of Youth and Family Ministries, Sabrina LaBelle, with questions: smgvasta@gmail.com.

First Communion

Please pray for the youth who are taking classes to learn about the sacrament of Holy Communion and join the entire congregation in welcoming all of our First Communion participants on Palm Sunday, April 2, during the 9:30 service.

Vacation Bible Camp

Registration for Vacation Bible Camp will open on Thursday, March 2. The theme this year is Hero Hotline: Called to Serve God Together from Romans 14:19: “So let’s strive together for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up.” Vacation Bible Camp will take place July 24 – 28 from 1:00 – 4:00pm and is open to all children (members and friends) ages 4 – 5th grade. We are also looking for volunteers to help with crafts, snacks, games, and to be group leaders. Confirmation and high school youth are especially encouraged to volunteer! But we do need adult leaders, as well. Please email Sabrina for more information: smgvasta@gmail.com.

Easter Eggstravaganza and Egg Hunt

On Saturday, April 8, there will be an Easter Eggstravaganza and Egg Hunt for all youth ages 4 – 5th grade at the church from 9:00 – 12:00. In addition to timed egg hunts by age group, there will be five stations with different activities for children to participate in from games to crafts. They can collect stamps at each activity for a prize at the end!

We need plastic egg and candy donations for the egg hunts. Please drop them off in the church office. We also need volunteers to help run each station. Please email Sabrina if you are available: smgvasta@gmail.com.