We are together, even when apart

Church is being together.  We sing, we pray, we pass the peace.  We share the bread and the wine.  

Church looks different right now.  We’re not in the same place but we’re still together.  We’re thinking about each other.  We’re singing and praying.  We’re passing the peace by calling our friends.  Or maybe we’re sending them emails or letters.  The bread and the wine are still part of us, even if we’re not at the table.

The Chapel of the Cross is our church, and we are the Chapel of the Cross. We are the church no matter where we are, which is kind of funny to think about.  How are you the church today? How are you singing and praying and passing the peace? How are the bread and wine a part of you today?

Prayers from the Heart

We started the season of Lent with heart-shaped boxes filled with the names of forty people who would be in our prayers. Maybe you’ve cut out extra pieces of paper so you could add more names to your box. Maybe you’ve tied names together and hung them in a place where you could see them every day. Maybe you never used a box or pieces of paper at all. Maybe you’ve just carried prayers in your heart. We all do that, you know. We carry prayers in our hearts.

This parishioner wanted to share a special prayer for emergency and other health care workers. Her father is an EMS doctor. EMS stands for “Emergency Medical Services.”

But her dad is not the only health care worker on her street, and she wanted to pray for all the doctors and nurses and physicians assistants and medical staff who live nearby. She wanted to let them know they were in her heart.

This next photo is from another family. They hung their paper prayer hearts above their kitchen table, so they could see them every day.

How are you making your prayers known? How are you sharing your heart?

Extended Learning

Best wishes to all the families who are starting Extended Learning (Virtual Learning) opportunities this week. Our Book of Common Prayer has prayers for all occasions and the Prayer for Schools may be appropriate for today.

O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, universities and homes, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 824)

(Greg says impasse might be a new word for kids. It means we’re stuck in a disagreement. Which tune do you like for the ABC Song?)

This might be a vote for Greg’s tune …
or it might be proof that young minds can learn things very quickly.
Thanks for sharing your talent!

The blue ethereal sky

Our processional hymn in Children’s Chapel is always Hymn 409, “The Spacious Firmament on High.” We’ve invited parish musicians to play the song on different instruments and today, a mother and son play a duet with a piccolo and double bass.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “I’ve got questions.”

What is a “spacious firmament” ? Spacious means wide and open. (If you’re trying to keep distance between you and other people, a spacious place is a good place to be!) Firmament means sky, or outer space, or the heavens above us. So the spacious firmament is the wide open, ethereal sky above us. “Hold on!” you would be right to ask, “nobody told me what ethereal means!” It means something precious and perfect, but something that’s hard to catch in your hands. A blue ethereal sky is beautiful but hard to hold on to. Have you ever been able to catch the sky?

Let’s move to the instruments. “What’s a piccolo?” A piccolo is a small flute. It’s a member of the woodwind family – like bigger flutes, clarinets, oboes, saxophones and bassoons.

What’s a double bass? Some people call it an upright bass or just a plain bass. In an orchestra, it’s usually played with a bow. But it can also be slapped with a hand and played in jazz or country or bluegrass bands.

The piccolo and the bass sound really good together, don’t they?

If you want to hear more music, today’s 9:00 AM service will include the organ and an opportunity to join in the service hymns from home. Your grown-ups can find the Facebook Live Stream at the @cotcchapelhill facebook page or at http://www.thechapelofthecross.org. If they subscribe to the parent emails, there is a children’s bulletin in their In box especially for today or they can download the one at the link below.

You Are My Sunshine

In our neighborhood, people are putting rainbows and hearts and teddy bears in their windows to brighten the walks of passers-by. We put a sun, (or something that looks sort of like a sun) in our window. What have you done this week to brighten someone’s day? Where have you let your light shine?

(This is supposed to be a sun. Greg says it doesn’t really look like a sun.)
These children are sending cards to church friends.

40 Days

Children, did you know that Lent lasts for 40 days? That’s the same number of days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, the same number of days that Moses fasted and prayed, and the same number of days that Noah spent on the ark. There must be something special about the number 40!

Maybe you remember this song from Vacation Church Camp. Which 40 days were we singing about then?

Grown-ups, what do you need ?

We are looking at (almost) 40 days under a Shelter-in-Place order. That’s the same number of days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. The same number of days Moses fasted and prayed. The same number of days Noah spent on the ark.

Forty days represents the brink of exhaustion, and also the possibility for spiritual renewal.

But neither Jesus nor Moses had children with them. And Noah’s kids were already grown.

What do you need in this time of trial?

Do you need virtual parent happy hours? More resources to share at home? A group of parents to text or call when things are hard? What is worrying you? What is encouraging you? Please get in touch if you have suggestions for making this community stronger. The Director of Christian Formation (Boykin) can be reached at bbell@thechapelofthecross.org.

Seasons of the Church Year

The days are running together at our house. Without our usual routines, it’s hard to remember whether it’s Wednesday or Thursday or Friday. (For the parents: it’s another Zoom meeting! And another! And another!) But the circle of the church year still turns. It”s Lent, and we are waiting for Easter.

Lent is a purple season. The children know that purple is the color of kings (and queens). It”s also the color of preparation. We are getting ready for something new. We are getting ready for something and someone special.

We can count the days till Easter. We cannot count the days till our old routines resume. We can only trust that a new season will, eventually, bring new life.

At our house, we made purple play dough to remember that the season of Lent is helping us prepare for something new. Play dough is also fun and, even in the midst of a penitent season, we need some fun.

If you want a play dough recipe, this one (from the old Busy Street Children’s Museum in Durham) could not be easier. Mix 1 cup flour with 1/2 cup salt and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir over medium heat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and looks like mashed potatoes. Knead until cool and color with food coloring.

A Challenge

Yesterday, we received what could only be seen as a challenge – a Jesus-Tender-Shepherd Challenge. The Chapel of the Cross children know that Greg always “forgets” the song that wraps up our Chapel singing, and a couple of Chapel kids sent a white hot rendition, in which they remembered every word. Since we all need to muster courage these days, Greg tried to respond and … he couldn’t remember whether Jesus is a teacher or a healer or a shepherd. (All of them, Greg!) So he passed the challenge on. And children responded.

For parents who are interested, this hymn is from the Children’s section of the 1940 Hymnal. There are multiple tunes. The words are:

Jesus Tender Shepherd, hear me; bless thy little lamb tonight: Through the darkness be thou near me (or, Tho’ the darkness be now near me), Keep me safe till morning light. Amen.

Do your kids want to answer the challenge? Send us a short video! (Email or text Boykin.)

Holy Family

What reminds you that you are a child of God?

Are there special things that calm you when you’re worried? Is there art that helps you pray? Are there objects that remind you that you are a child of God (even when that object has some dusty fuzz on it)? Our rector has a special statue of the Holy Family, and it reminds her of God’s deep, deep love for us all.

If you’re like the guy in the bike helmet, THAT might remind you of a song we sing in Children’s Chapel. God’s love is like a fountain, and it is deep and wide.

Spring Sing

Psalms are songs!

Did you hear the psalm in yesterday’s service? It was Psalm 23, which begins, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.”

There are 150 psalms. You can find them in a bible or in our Book of Common Prayer. Some psalms express sadness, anger and frustration. Some celebrate kings. Some praise God’s creation and some give thanks for God’s quiet presence. There is probably a psalm for whatever you are feeling.

Psalms are often sung. Today, our college chaplain shares a way to sing Psalm 23.

If you don’t feel like singing, you might want to draw a picture. You might want to walk outside. You might want to yell, just for a minute, like a sheep that is trying to get the shepherd’s attention. You might want to imagine a green pasture and cool, still water.

Whatever you do, remember that goodness and mercy are all around you.


Today is the second Sunday that we’re not gathering on the playground, or in the activity room, to line up and carry the cross and the bible to the chapel. Do you remember the music we usually hear when we walk into the chapel? That’s called the processional hymn. We almost always hear the same processional music in Children’s Chapel. You can probably hum it right now if you think about it! The music was written by Franz Joseph Haydn and is the tune for Hymn 409 in our Episcopal Hymnal. “The Spacious Firmament on High” celebrates the wonders of the sky and space – the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars. Even when the rhythm of our days is different, the sun still shines, the planets turn and the moon appears at night.

There will be a “big church” service this morning at 9:00 AM. It will be different than most Sunday services because it will be held in the chapel without any people in the pews. You can watch it with your grown-ups at the Chapel of the Cross website http://www.thechapelofthecross.org or on Facebook @cotcchapelhill. The live stream will begin a little before 9:00. Look around the room for things that are familiar. Do you see the pipe organ, the choir pews, the altar, the baptismal font, the eagle lectern? What color are the altar cloths? Where do you usually sit when you listen to the story or share your Joys and Concerns? Listen, too, for today’s psalm. You might recognize it!