What’s Your Story: Name Edition

Letter From Evangeline Burgers

Hello Church Community,

I pray that you had a great time celebrating our Earth on Wednesday and that you’ve overall had a good week with your families at home. 

Last week, Pastor Jenny started a new sermon series on stories and she challenged us to share a story about our beginning. One way children might think about their story of beginning is through sharing about their names. One of my very favorite activities to do when I taught Kindergarten was for parents to share the story of their child’s name with the class. We all learned so much about our friends this way and I found it a powerful opportunity to build up a child’s esteem and affirm their identity.

I’ve recorded a read-aloud of my personal favorite book, Chrysanthemum, to help our children think about names and their significance. There’s also this fun video from Scholastic featuring people sharing their name stories. 

If you have a chance, talk with your child about their name. Tell the story of how you decided on their name when they were a baby. Are they named after a specific ancestor or special friend? Is there a funny story about how their name came to be? Why did you love it? Then help your child to share the story of their name in the read-aloud YouTube comments. I pray this will be a fun way for our children to share their personal name stories with one another.

Names are just one small piece of what makes our story special. I love the image Pastor Jenny mentioned last week from Psalms about God knitting us in our mother’s womb. What a beautiful and exciting life we live, that we get to co-write our stories with God!

To follow up from Sunday School last week, I challenged our children to reach out to a friend they are missing and tell them how much they care about them. I’ve attached a “Thinking of You” coloring page here for them to do just that!

Have a great week and let me know if you need anything!


Evangeline Burgers

Director of Children’s Ministry

Princeton UMC

609-924-2613 (church phone)


April 19, 2020: “Tell a story…”

(This post is ‘in progress,’ more details to be added and it will be posted on Facebook, where you can leave comments.)

In her April 19 sermon, which begins at minute 33 on the Facebook video, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz, spoke about the first chapter of John. She referred to Science Mike, Mike McHargue, who explains how our brains help us survive and thrive. They take all the bits of information that come to us and organize them into stories, creating order from chaos. This helps our brains be more efficient. If we aren’t given stories, our brains make up stories, and this is both beautiful and dangerous. The unhelpful stories might be based on your brain’s ‘tape” that was recorded when a parent or teacher told you something that defined you, not in a good way.  We need really good stories to  help us make meaning out of the world we live in. We need “God-written stories” not tapes that need to be transformed through the Resurrection story.

Another birth story of Jesus is in John 1. Jesus is making an appearance in the Flesh. And we are in that story. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Pastor Jenny quoted Walter Brueggeman:  “The words with which we praise God will shape the world in which we live.”

“Not only do God’s words create, but our words create.  God has ‘wired us’  to create stories. When we tell our stories we are co-creating with God. We are creating the world in which we live, and the words with which we praise God shape the world in which we live.”

Jesus’ parables are stories that not only describe the Kingdom of God, they create the Kingdom of God

The more we understand our story as one that is in line with God’s story, that we are co-creators of the kingdom of God, the more our lives can shine bright like the light that God created at the very beginning. Our stories create the world we live in. We are not at the mercy of God’s story, the story that is being written about the world. We are coauthors with God.

What is your defining story? How do you tell God’s story? How do you tell your life’s story?

“Tell me a story of your beginning…” asks Pastor Jenny. Her own favorite story about her beginnings is Psalm 139: God knit us together in our mother’s womb. . .

A favorite hymn: Tell me the stories of Jesus

(On the comments page, Joseph Paun recommended The Hope of Glory, by Jon Meacham)

Ida Cahill introduced the “Above and Beyond” campaign and offered a way to give offerings online. 

Christ arose! Low in the grave he lay was the closing hymn.

The complete service is being posted on Facebook . 

The sermon is from minutes 33 to 50.


‘Butterfly Hug Prayer’ for Stress and Worry

by Evangeline Burgers

Are you and/or your child experiencing anxiety right now? The Butterfly Hug may be a good prayer and calming technique for you to try. I’ve recorded a video to help your family learn this Butterfly Hug prayer, which was developed by a therapist in Mexico to help children who were dealing with trauma following a hurricane. While we may not be currently facing an actual hurricane, we are very much experiencing trauma. I pray this prayer practice brings feelings of peace to you and your family. Remember that it is a “practice.” which means it may not come easy to all of us right away. Practice makes better!

Lines from Psalm 139,

If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!

Credit for the prayer:

Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home by Traci Smith.

Sally: Proclaiming the peace of God

IMG_3369Catherine Williams gave the inspiring message at the funeral for Sally Ross on Monday, April 28. Here is the text of her sermon, based in part on Sally’s obituary and on Psalm 139.

At one point Catherine quoted the obituary, “Sally was committed to building a supportive church community. She was an active member of the PUMC, sang soprano for the choir, served on numerous committees, assisted with countless fundraisers and did practically everything but preach.”

It is this last phrase – did practically everything but preach – that I find interesting. I am a currently a third year doctoral student of Homiletics (preaching) at Princeton seminary, and one of the things I have constantly wrestled with in my study is a working definition of preaching that I find satisfactory.

I’m thinking of this dictum that has been dubiously attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi that says, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  On that basis, I do think that Sally did a little preaching herself.

But there’s one other message Sally preached that quilters and crafters may comprehend more easily. Again Psalm 139 is my reference point because the Psalmist speaks of a God who is involved in the details of our lives. The Psalmist reflects, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”

It was as though the Psalmist could see God leaning over a masterpiece, working with deft, nimble hands to create a unique, one-of-a-kind person – right from the womb. Anyone of the unique, one-of-a-kind quilts or handmade shawls and garments made by Sally is a picture that paints a thousand words of God’s intimate, creative involvement in our lives and indeed in the world.

Yes, I would contend that Sally did everything in church, including a little preaching. She may have found this notion hilarious, but she did. She proclaimed the unconditional love of God through her friendships. She proclaimed the wisdom of God through her timely counsel. She proclaimed the steadfastness of God through her persistence and resilience in her fight with cancer. She proclaimed the peace of God, even in her dying….

For the complete text, click here.