A letter from Farris Goodrum in Brazil
Ceniara is a deacon and a friend of ours from the United Presbyterian Church of Maruipe, here in Vitoria. Thelma is the assistant pastor at this church, and I am active in music and Christian education. Ceniara has been the superintendent of the Sunday school department this year, and always looks for creative ways to make the Sunday school and worship experiences very meaningful. Sunday, November the 24, was to be the liturgical celebration of Christ the King, both in Sunday school in the morning, and in the worship service in the evening, and Ceniara wished for a very meaningful day of celebration when the entire church, from the children up through the adults, would celebrate together. She was to deliver the message in the evening and had met with Thelma to seek advice and orientation concerning her message.
A few weeks before this I had taken a puppet to church that I had made many years ago but had not used in years. This purple-and-red puppet, whose name is Victor, had helped to announce an upcoming activity for the children. Victor seemed to go over well with the congregation, and I saw how a puppet can be enjoyed by all ages, and can get away with saying things, both funny and thought-provoking, that an ordinary person might not be able to do.
Ceniara invited me to have Victor talk to the church on November 24, at the beginning of the Sunday school hour, when the whole church meets together. I was not sure, however, that I could prepare a meaningful presentation that would be appropriate for that particular day, so I did not accept. Ceniara, however, is not only creative, but also persistent! And it was not long before we had planned a skit whereby a golden crown, which was to represent Christ the King, would be missing from its pedestal in front of the communion table. The congregation would be asked about the missing crown, but no one would know anything about it. And then Victor would appear from behind the piano, wearing the golden crown! Ceniara would then remove it and place it at its rightful place in front of the communion table as Victor would proceed to discuss the footprints that Ceniara had carefully placed in the aisle of the church, going from the front door to the pedestal where the crown was placed. Each footprint had a word written on it, such as “forgiveness,” “compassion,” “patience,” and “love,” representing values of the Kingdom of God. Then Victor would invite the children’s choir to follow the footsteps to the front of the church, where they would sing a song about God’s Kingdom.
Not knowing how this little skit might go across, or how the congregation might react, we were pleased when Victor’s entrance was met with laughter. The turning over of the crown, and the puppet’s discussion about the values of God’s Kingdom, with interaction from the congregation, went over well too, and the children’s choir sang with gusto!
The worship service in the evening began with the adult choir singing “King of Kings and Lord of Lords!” The New Testament reading was from Luke 23:33-43, which tells of the two criminals who were crucified along with Jesus. While one railed at Jesus saying: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” the other humbly said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power.” I was reminded of a simple but beautiful response that I had heard in the States and found that it was easily adaptable into Portuguese, so after the prayer of confession the congregation sang: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!” Ceniara’s meaningful message was followed by an invitation to the congregation to follow the footprints to the crown, and to contemplate what it means to be a subject of Christ’s Kingdom.
There was a reception in the front yard of the church after the worship service, with much enthusiasm during that moment of fellowship. It had been a meaningful day, and I was pleased to be invited to participate in the creative worship experiences of that day.
I am sure that Ceniara is already thinking of other ideas for creative experiences in Sunday school and church, while contemplating ways to persuade others to use their creativity as well. Because that is how creative…and persistent…people are!
And because of experiences such as these, where we are able to use our God-given gifts and talents in ministry here in Brazil, we wish to thank you for your interest in our ministry. We are grateful to the churches and individuals who contribute to our sending and support, and ask for your continued prayers, correspondence and financial gifts. Thank you for all you do to further God’s mission in Brazil!
Thelma joins me in sending greetings.
Sincerely, in the service of Christ the King,
Vitória, ES 29045-970
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