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God is on the Move: What a Lenten Spring can Teach Us

During the season of Lent, ReFocus is excited to invite a number of guest authors to share their thoughts on ways that all generations can engage with Lent and worship, learn, and grow together during this season. Today’s guest blogger is Johannah Myers who serves as the Associate Director, Messy Church USA. Thank you, Johannah, for sharing your Lenten experience with us this week!

Where I live in South Carolina, no matter whether Lent begins early or late, it is a liturgical season that coincides with the coming of spring. Even in mid-February, we see daffodils blooming, buds on trees, and robins and bluebirds chirping about. As someone who doesn’t particularly care for the cold of winter, these signs of spring, small though they may be, are signs of warmth and joy.

Maybe I should be saving these signs of spring for Easter and not the somber season of Lent, but I can’t help myself! And it all started with a beloved children’s book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Confession – I know I read this book in elementary school. But I don’t remember it being more than a story we had to read, a lesson plan to be completed.

As an adult, though, I’ve fallen in love with C. S. Lewis’ tale of the Pevensie children and their first adventures into Narnia. Within the perpetual winter of Narnia, a winter caused by the White Witch’s curse, snowdrops and running water, tiny yellow flowers popping up out of the snow were no trivial things. These were signs of Spring! And Spring was Aslan’s doing!

Any sign of spring is a sign that God is on the move.

During Lent 2021 – our first full Lenten season in Covid lockdown – I tried something different with my congregation. We were still not gathering in person much and were feeling the loss of community and joy. We were used to gathering monthly at Messy Church and it life just wasn’t the same without the mess. The idea of a somber Lent and giving something else up (when we felt we’d been forced to give up more than we wanted!) just didn’t make sense. So we didn’t give anything up; instead, we took on a story. We spent the season exploring The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe together.

At the start of Lent, I sent home bags filled with all kinds of activities connected to the story. Each week, we read chapters together. Different members of our congregation read chapters of the book which we posted on YouTube for everyone to listen to together. We made snow globes and lion masks. We even cooked our way through the story. A few of us were brave enough to try making Turkish delight and we all enjoyed Mrs. Beaver’s sticky marmalade roll.

Every week, a group of us gathered online to talk about the story. We were young and old, church members and friends from far away, parents with their kids, and grandparents. And together we talked about Edmund and his desire for Turkish delight and to be king over all his siblings. Then we talked about how his desires didn’t turn out the way he thought they would. We talked about forgiveness and how Aslan could be good but not necessarily safe. We spoke of sacrifice and of new life. The discussions were rich and meaningful for us all.

Needless to say, it was the best Lent ever. No fasting required.

For me now, Lent and Spring go hand in hand. I look for those tiny signs of new life and think, “Aslan (God) is on the move!”

Frankly, in a ministry season where it can be oh so difficult to see God already moving, already working, looking at a budding tree and remembering what Spring signified in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is as encouraging a sign as I can get right now. I am reminded to look closer, to look around me for signs of Spring within my faith community, within the Church. God is indeed on the move!

What stories do we need to tell during this season? It might be that the stories we need to tell come in unexpected places – like children’s books. Don’t be surprised when your adults are the ones flocking to hear these stories again (or even for the first time). Many adults have forgotten how much power there is to be found in fictional stories of witches and lions, good and evil.

In one of his essays on literature, C.S. Lewis once said, “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so.

Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” In the dedication of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lewis said to his goddaughter, Lucy, that while she may grow too quickly to appreciate this book while she’s young, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” It’s time some of us grew up enough to start reading fairy tales again!

Whenever I lead a Messy Church training, we spend a good deal of time talking about why all ages need to be together. Children need adults to walk alongside them in faith. And adults very much need children to walk alongside them in return. If nothing else, children remind us to bring our imagination back out and dust it off, to get our hands messy with glue or sticky with marmalade cakes and Turkish delight. The Church needs people who embrace creativity and imagination, who are willing to tell fairytales because they show us how to slay the dragons and remind us to be courageous.

So, if you need me during Lent, chances are I’ll be out looking for signs of Spring and hoping to catch sight of a talking beaver or two.


Johannah Myers, DMin, is the Associate Director for Messy Church USA as well as the Director of Disciple Formation at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC. She has a M.Div from Duke Divinity School, which helped shape her call to disciple formation. She helped Aldersgate start a Messy Church in 2013 and her doctoral project (Wesley, 2019) focused on intergenerational faith formation. In her spare time, she’s an avid Duke fan, world traveler, and provider for one very stubborn Great Pyrenees named Winnie.


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About the Founder of ReFocus Ministry

Christina Embree is the founder and director of ReFocus Ministry. She holds a masters in ministry focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and a doctorate in spiritual formation with a focus on age segregation and intergenerational ministry. In addition to coaching churches of multiple denominations and traditions all around the globe, Christina serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship for the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ and as a pastor at Plowshares Brethren in Christ in Lexington, Kentucky. She is widely recognized as a speaker and author in the areas of generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and family ministry. As the mother of three children, she is familiar with the challenges of faith at home and pastoral ministry. She along with her husband Luke share a love for the church, their community, and the global work of peace and restoration through Jesus.

Interested in having Christina visit your church, speak at your conference, or coach your team? Christina speaks on a wide range of topics related to children, youth, and family ministry with a unique focus on connecting generations for discipleship within your church. Her personalized approach allows you to pinpoint the needs of your community and gain the insight that you are looking for. Whether this is a volunteer team training and pastoral staff meeting or a ministerial conference, her experience and knowledge will help you determine the next step forward in creating lifelong disciples.

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