This summer, our children have been learning about the early church as we read through the book of Acts. August finds us following the missionary trips of the apostle Paul; we have had passports stamped in various ancient cities as we traced his route. You might see us with edible prison cells that recall Paul's imprisonments, making sailboats as we learn about his sea travels, even dyeing purple cloth to remember his friend Lydia.
Puppets and games, songs and snacks are all part of our Sunday morning lessons. Our students all have the opportunity to be puppeteers, dramatizing our Bible stories with great enthusiasm. Beanbags or a parachute may help us with games that review events in the Bible. Snacks often reflect something about the day's lesson as well.
Recently, our young learners surprised the adults during the worship service with a sweet gift as we shared one of our favorite songs, "Love is something if you give it away."
If you haven't visited our children's Bible class recently, please know you are welcome to join us!
"Jam Session" is a monthly service project that involves making sack lunches for our homeless neighbors. This ministry began many years ago when some of our retired members were looking for a practical way to show the love of Jesus to our community. They found that Casa Maria, a soup kitchen in downtown Tucson, needed volunteers to pack lunches for the large number of homeless people it serves. When they found out that the lunches could be made offsite and brought to Casa Maria, they decided that was a great opportunity to get involved. Our members decided to meet once a month to pack as many lunches as they could. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would not require refrigeration, so that became the "main course" for the bags. It didn't take long to discover that jam spreads easier than jelly... so the "Jam Session" was born.
Over the years, some of the Jam Session volunteers became legendary. Bill C. was the banana stem cutter, as well as the most precise peanut butter spreader in the group. Dorothy K. was the most senior Jammer. Sometimes we have had children and teens helping; sometimes the youngest person still quaifies for a senior discount. But whether in the best of health, or using walkers, wheelchairs, or canes, Jam Session volunteers continue to prove that while not everyone can do everything, everyone can do something. And being retired from work doesn't mean retirement from Christian service.
These days, Jammers meet on the Friday-before-the-second-Saturday of each month, in a volunteer's home. (This is because the lunches are always taken to Casa Maria on the second Saturday. Whether the Friday prior to that day is the first or second Friday of the month depends on the month.) Forming as assembly line, the volunteers place a cookie, a fruit cup, and two wrapped sandwiches in each paper bag. (Fruit cups replaced fresh bananas several years ago because it was too hard to keep the bananas from getting overripe before the lunches were delivered.) Five paper bags are packed into a plastic grocery bag, and the lunches are ready to go.
It is our prayer that the food will nourish the bodies as well as the spirits of those who receive it.
Have you tried Wednesday night home Bible study? Whether it's the youth group meeting at the Fishers' house, or other folks meeting at the Holts', it's a great time for learning and fellowship.
A typical Wednesday night at the Holts' house starts about 6pm when people arrive for dinner. There's always some kind of soup, plus tea and coffee; someone usually brings a dessert or side to share. This week we were treated to Sandra's homemade bread, Jan's homemade carrot-ramen salad, and Sylvia's homemade peach cobbler cake. And just as important as those who bring food are those who bring appreciative appetites! It is so sweet to laugh, talk and eat together.
Not everybody comes early for dinner, of course. At 6:30 we are ready to begin our Bible study. We start with all of us together, and then separate into smaller groups. This way we are able to have better participation-- everybody gets a chance to talk. We are currently reading and discussing the book of Hebrews, chapter by chapter. It is a pretty interesting book! And how wonderful to have people from a variety of backgrounds searching the scripture together-- from folks who have studied scripture for years, to those who come to it with fresh eyes, and everyone in between.
The hour goes quickly, and before we know it, it is 7:30. As we close out our evening together, we know that we have not only grown in our knowledge of God, but in our love for each other.
We would love to have you join us!
Spring is here, and with it come a few Palo Verde family traditions as we "rejoice with those who rejoice" and seek to encourage each other in our walk with God. In the next couple of months, we look forward to:
April 14th LTC SUNDAY Many of our younger members have been working since January with the Leadership Training for Christ program in preparation for the annual Southwest Region convention, where congregations from all over this part of the U.S. join together at Tucson's own JW Marriott Starr Pass on Easter weekend to share Christ-centered activities. These activities invite children and teens in grades 3-12 to explore ways of using their talents and interests to serve the Lord. Some of these include song leading, a capella group singing, art, drama, sign language interpretation, Bible reading, creative writing, public speaking, and puppetry. On LTC Sunday, Palo Verde LTC particpants present their work to the congregation. This will happen in the Hilton worship center after our worship service. Please plan to join us and see our Lord glorified!
April 21st EASTER We will offer three options for worship together on Easter Sunday:
Join with the LTC convention group at Starr Pass for worship at 8:00am
Meet at the Hilton, in our children's classroom area, for worship at 9:30am.
Worship in the home of David and Joni Crawford (520-237-0620) or Don and Peggy Huffman (520) 747-0095
MAY 19th SENIOR BLESSING Graduating high school is a major accomplishment as well as a transition in a person's life; it is the launching point for decisions that will have lifetime effects. This can also be a time when young adult Christians confirm their personal commitment to following Jesus -- making decisions as adults, participating because they choose to, not just as their parents' children.
This year we will honor three graduates: Annie, Ethan, and Brandon. On May 19th, after worship, we will have a slideshow celebrating our seniors' past, a gift for each from the congregation, and a prayer together thanking God for his presence in their lives and asking his guidance on their lives ahead. A reception in the classroom area will follow.
We hope you will join us on each of these occasions, and every Sunday as we worship together.
This month the Palo Verde children have been learning about Jesus' ministry, mostly from the book of John. They heard how Jesus was transfigured-- while on a mountain with his disciples Peter, James and John, he became radiant and was joined by the spirits of Moses and Elijah (Luke 9: 28-43). Truly amazing! Since then, we have studied some of the most important parables that Jesus told: one tells how we should love others (The Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37), and two others tell of his love for us (The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, Luke 15:1-10.)
To help these lessons sink in, the children have been involved in many activities. Stories and artwork, games and dramatic play all have helped them engage with the Word of God. They even acted in a video of "The Good Samaritan" that was later shown to the congregation. (We have some real hams in our Bible classes!) Meanwhile, some puppets have made an appearance, and there has been a lot of singing.
As we follow the last days of Jesus on the way to the cross, we have two more lessons in March:
The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32), and
Jesus Annointed at Bethany (John 12:1-8)
In April, Easter will help us focus on the greatest news since Jesus came to Earth: his resurrection!
God’s hand has been amazing to see in the past several months, as he has led our family through the transition of selling our old building and moving out, on faith, into a new temporary meeting facility at the nearby Hilton East hotel. The first month at our new location is almost complete.
In this transitional phase, we are able to do some things in familiar ways, and try new ways to do other things. For example, our ladies' class is meeting at our new facility, but we are expanding the in-home small group model for Wednesday night Bible study. It is great to be able to practice hospitality! Our Leadership Training for Christ students are practicing their puppets, chorus and other group activities in homes as well, and even our monthly "Jam Session" meal preparation ministry is happening in homes. God is blessing our time together.
Our new worship center encourages sitting closer together, so the singing has been wonderful. We have been blessed with many visitors lately, and pray that God will continue to guide our family as we seek to be his hands and feet in Tucson.