Read this story and more in CONNECT Magazine | 2019 Lent Edition
CONNECT Magazine is your source for the stories of our FUMCFW Faith Community — and how each fits in with our Healthy Plate Discipleship. Pick up your copy in the Main Office and Welcome Center or read it online.
To quote FUMCFW Director of Children’s Ministries “Mister Mark” Burrows, “Here at First Church, we pray hard and we play hard!” Nowhere is this truth more evident than in our Holy Week activities designed just for children and families.
Our Family Maundy Thursday Service commemorates the special meal Jesus shared with his friends in the very first celebration of Holy Communion. Thousands of years later, we still remember Jesus’ love for us whenever we come together to break bread and pass the cup. And then, although many of us did not grow up with the tradition of washing one another’s feet on this special night, we learn that Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is what gives Maundy Thursday its name. (Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum meaning “commandment.”) After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Finally, we’ll remember what happened on the night before Jesus died, when he took his friends to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed. His friends fell asleep, but we will stay awake with Jesus, and give thanks for his amazing love.
In our Family Good Friday Service, we provide a safe, loving environment for families to experience the story of Jesus giving his life. Taking on one of the most challenging stories of our faith through a powerful worship experience that respects both scripture and the tender hearts of our children, this service of candlelight, shadow, song, story, and prayer provides a contemplative experience unlike anything offered for families in our city. “Telling the whole story of Jesus’ love means telling the Good Friday story,” Mister Mark says. “Throughout history, the Good Friday service has often been called the Tenebrae Service. Tenebrae means “shadows,” and so we use actual shadow images to help tell the Good Friday story.” Mister Mark adds that these shadow images allow us to tell the story in a visually engaging way without resorting to unnecessarily graphic depictions. “Children need more and want more than rainbows and butterflies,” he says. “If we’re going to celebrate Jesus’ victory on Easter…victory over what? While we do talk about the crucifixion in this service, we don’t focus on the violence. We focus on the love. Even on the cross, Jesus was loving, blessing, and praying for others. We explore Jesus as the light of the world. And as long as we keep Jesus’ love in our hearts, that light can never go out.”
FUMCFW Easter Egg Hunt (Otherwise known as “Easter Egg Saturday”) is one of the most important ways our church brings families together to play. This legendary FUMCFW tradition keeps growing each year, with last year’s estimated attendance of more than 800.
Providing a perfect setting for a Saturday family picnic (7179 Peden Road in Azle, Texas), Lyle Lodge offers a welcome opportunity for families to enjoy the lighter side of Easter, set against the gorgeous green space and beautiful views of Eagle Mountain Lake (Be sure to bring a blanket to spread out for a picnic with your family!). Complete with pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, food trucks, and more, our Easter Egg Hunt is set up for four age divisions (bring your basket!). To conclude this heartwarming day, we’ll release hundreds of live butterflies (bring your camera!) for a powerful, beautiful, concrete commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection. “It’s astounding to us that so many people come when it’s not here at the church, or even just around the corner at the neighborhood park,” Mister Mark says. “It’s a 40-minute drive from the church, but it’s worth it!.”
Adding that he considers the setting and the weather the real stars of this event, this highly successful family day at the church’s lodge on the banks of Eagle Mountain Lake is also a matter of countless hours of planning and coordination, three food trucks (and it takes all the elbow grease they’ve got to serve so many meals!), not to mention upwards of 2,000 Easter eggs. “For those who miss the good ol’ days of church picnics, and families laughing and playing together, this Easter Egg Hunt brings back a lot of those good feels!” exclaims Mister Mark.