One of the highlights of yesterday’s worship service for me was the conversation with children. For the first time since I started serving St. James this summer, all of the children in the sanctuary were waiting for me when I returned to the chancel following the passing of peace. Such eagerness is attractive; surely, it pleases God.
The very sight of smiling children in worship is enough to fill one’s heart with gratitude, and I am grateful for this particular group of children who were at church to sing and to participate in St. James’ annual Bible presentation to the 3rd graders.
Since school started this fall, I have been actively participating in Youth Club. Every Thursday afternoon at 5:00 p.m., children gather outside or in the gym for icebreakers and faith-sharing. After Youth Club, parents take turns serving dinner, and children share their joys and concerns while we eat.
The joys and concerns that children share are more adult than one might imagine. I firmly believe that children are generally more thoughtful than they often are credited with being. This fall, we have prayed for people with terminal illnesses and for parents serving the United States in Afghanistan.
I love being able to sit in circles with the church’s children alongside adult leaders Sue Foster and Deb Hanner and to listen to the church’s children when they choose to initiate conversations about where they are with respect to life’s ultimate questions. Much about children’s ministry, like any ministry really, comes down to presence, God’s presence with us through our attentiveness to each other’s joys and concerns in the light of God’s joys and Christ’s concerns.
On the other side of dinner on Thursday afternoon, the children go across the hall to make joyful noises so that on Sundays like this past Sunday, they may sing in worship and proclaim the gospel of God’s love in Jesus Christ to the church and the world. Thanks to Betty Enck for encouraging the children in our midst to sing about love that is both amazing and divine. Where would the church be without its children?
Church, like faith and life, is always happening, and I’m glad that it is happening as vibrantly as it is at St. James. As much as I hope and pray that our children learn something about the gospel from the adults in the congregation, I hope and pray that we will learn something about being playful, taking initiative and making joyful noises from them.
God is in the habit of breathing life into each generation through creative collaboration with other generations. I’m glad that we, at St. James, are a multi-generational congregation and that we, by God’s grace, are reformed and are always being reformed according to the Word of God in Christ Jesus.