Having been a part of several congregations where children were in worship on Communion Sunday, I wanted to share a note of encouragement this week. Check the end of the post for a couple of ideas for having children create art for Christ’s table.
Dear Mom of Young Children,
I had known you all of five minutes when you candidly admitted that having your kids in the service was distracting for you. You told me that it was a struggle to worship with preschoolers but you were going to keep it up. I hope that I told you that going to church as a family can be hard work. Today I want to tell you that it is holy work. And you are doing it well.
You see, from my vantage point up front, I get to witness children experiencing God in church in ways that literally bring tears to my eyes. (You can see a lot more when you aren’t constantly sticking your head under the pew hunting for runaway crayons every ten seconds. As a mom of teens I can tell you: Sundays will get easier.)
One Communion Sunday I sat behind your family. I watched you and your husband as you pointed to the lines of the prayers and hymns, your finger helping them follow along. You had a bright bag of activities to prevent excess wiggling. You were patient and showed them the way. I watched and smiled.
That day you were a Communion server. When you went forward I noticed someone else was watching you, too. Just as your daughter’s finger followed yours as you traced your finger along the lines, her eyes followed your feet as you walked to the table, your hands as you took the bread, your lips as you repeated “The body of Christ…” Without saying a word, her curious gaze said she knows a Holy Mystery when she sees it. I watched her study how the meal is served: We pray. The bread and cup are lifted. The bread is broken. The people are invited. She beamed with pride as her mom stood with the pastor as toddlers and teens, parents and great-grandparents and everyone in between came to receive Holy Communion.
As the service was ending, your son still held a piece of the bread in his hand. Slyly he peered over the pew at me. “Isn’t it delicious?” I asked. He nodded, grinned, and then turned to ask his Dad if he could have seconds. I detected just a hint of worry. Perhaps Dad thought that he didn’t understand what this was all about? Or that he might bolt for the leftovers? His simple question, though, revealed that your son already knows something important: Christ’s table symbolizes God’s infinite love and grace. At Christ’s table, there is always room. There is more than enough for each of us to receive seconds and even thirds. All I could do was smile in thanks for this beautiful insight I received from your son’s question.
I wish I could have filmed these holy moments, for I would love to play them back for you some evening after the toys have all been put away, the kids have gone to bed, and we have a moment to breathe. We could sit together in comfy chairs, sipping tea, laughing, and maybe crying, as we shared our stories of motherhood. And, I would show you that video, so that you might see what I see: children who come to church expecting mystery and wonder, love and grace, bread and wine. Parents who are teaching by example.
It isn’t easy. You are doing a beautiful job.
For All Saints Sunday this week, we will create a tablecloth together during the sermon by drawing pictures of people who have shown us how to love God and neighbor; people who are our examples for following Christ. The children will then set the table together.
Previously I had the children make a banner with sponge stamped people and hearts surrounding the bread and cup.