As the school year looms, we celebrate with Rally Day when children, parents and all the generations gather! We share a parish-wide picnic and provide fun games and activities for children. Children and youth register for Christian Education and Formation and we begin meeting each Sunday to worship and learn and experience friendships grow.
As Christmas grows near, we mark the season of Advent as a time for preparation. The themes in the children’s atria and youth room change as we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We also take time to celebrate fellowship and all the generations gathered on Christmas Cookie Sunday. Parishioner bake hundreds of cookies for children and youth to decorate—youth get the added challenge of decorating blind folded. It’s also a time when the sun begins to set sooner and the days shorten; we gather for Evening Prayer on the beach to celebrate one of the things that make Naples unique—the beach sunset.
Christmas Eve worship is one of the great times when families gather together to mark the holiness of life and the special gift of Jesus. There are several worship services offered on Christmas Eve with the earliest service in the afternoon being the service with the Christmas Pageant. Children and youth gather to tell the story of Christ’s birth and celebrate the Incarnation.
Following the New Year’s beginning, the season of Epiphany begins in church. Themes change in the children’s atria and in the youth room as we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings and the manifestation of Christ in the world. We kick of the new school semester by returning to the Sunday Christian Education and Formation habit. Special time is celebrated at the end of Epiphany with our annual Mardi Gras Young Family Social and Mardi Gras Sunday. It’s a way we mark the movement of our church year into Shrove Tuesday and the beginning of Lent.
As Ash Wednesday comes and goes, the Forty Days of Lent begins. Themes change in the children’s atria and in the youth room as we experience the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Worship takes on a more somber tone as there is less organ music and the Alleluias are put away. Children, youth, and Young Families take up a special Lenten Day service project or offering that is offered on Palm Sunday during church.
Following the Palm Sunday Liturgy, Holy Week begins. Families are invited to share in the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil liturgies. On Easter Sunday the parish is decked out in the white vestments and flowers of Resurrection. Children are invited to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt, the Easter Egg Toss and other activities that help us celebrate our friendships and the new life of the resurrection.
As the Fifty Days of Easter march toward Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the themes in the children’s atria and in the youth room change. By this time of year, families tend to be wearing down with the pressures of work and school and the busyness of Naples seasonality. We try to offer less pressure on families, but encourage them to continue to find the balance that the church offers. As the school year end, the church looks forward to the annual fishing tournament—a special blessing to our church that is situated on the water.
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