Kia tau te rangimārie

Kia tau te rangimārie
Peace be with you 

We live in anxious times. The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus is causing the whole world to become an unsettled and unpredictable place. This has an effect on our children. I recently heard of a school that has had to ban the children from playing 'Coronavirus Tag', which is as it sounds. If you get tagged, you have the virus and you will die. Needless to say, this was rather anxiety inducing for all concerned. 

We can be proactive in addressing this anxiety, especially as some children will carry their concerns close to their heart without verbalising it. Here are a couple of tips and resources that you might find helpful:

1. Slow down: This link will lead you to a series of colouring pages produced by Strandz for Advent this year. Download the 'rangimārie' or 'peace' page and photocopy off enough for one each. During your Sunday morning programme or after-school club give the children time in silence to colour in this page. Talk first about God's loving presence with us when we feel worried. Encourage them to colour in slowly, to take deep breaths and feel their body relax. They might like to talk with God while they colour and to give God their fears and worries. Taking time to be silent and to do something slowly helps to still a worried mind. 

'Illustrated Ministry' has produced some beautiful resources which they are making free. This link will take you to three prayers that can be coloured. Perfect for all those who are feeling anxious at this time. 

2. Debunk the myths: There are so many crazy stories going around that are just not true. A child may struggle to separate fact from fiction (side-note: plenty of adults have difficulty with this too). Talking openly and honestly about the virus helps children to have a sense of control over what is happening, and helps allay their fears. A very good article for a family to read together can be found here. Here's a great article written by a New Zealand child psychologist with some good advice. 

3. Be prepared: Put a plan in place to provide families and whānau with good online resources if we move to a phase where church attendance is not an option and we have to stay at home. Various organisations are providing free materials. You can find one here

4. Take homes: Provide each child in your church and community ministries with a card that reads, 'Kia tau te rangimārie. Peace be with you.' Laminate it. They can carry their card with them in their pocket as a reminder that God is with them in all circumstances, whether at school or at home. You can download an example here.

Here's a lovely prayer we can be praying for each other. You might like to share it on your church Facebook page or in your newsletter. Let us pray for each other in the midst of all the uncertainly, and especially for those most vulnerable members of our communities. 

The peace of God be in your heart
The grace of God be in your words
The love of God be in your hands
The joy of God be in your soul
and in the song that your life sings.

John Birch


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