As things rapidly unfold, uncertainty and concern about COVID-19 are on the rise. This post is about praying with children and parents who are nervous. If you are looking for advice about best health practices, I encourage you to refer to medical professionals, denominational guidelines, and federal, state, and local health agencies. My colleague curated this helpful resource for Children’s Ministry.
Whether you are a parent or a children’s minister, I offer the following ways of praying in uncertain times.
During Sunday’s children’s chapel I received several prayer requests related to the virus. While I normally let children’s prayers stand on their own without commentary, I sensed that the room was anxious, so I offered these prayers of thanksgiving in the moment:
God is with us through scary and hard things. We are thankful that God created our bodies to fight infection and be able to heal. We are thankful that God gives us doctors and health care professionals who help sick people become well. We are thankful that God works in our community as we do what we can to keep one another healthy by washing our hands and staying home when we are sick. God is doing good even when things are hard. Thanks be to God.
Our Response (three options):
Look for the gifts: Mr. Rogers is famous for telling children to, “look for the helpers” in scary times. While that is sound advice, during a time of social distancing, the helpers are not as visible. That is why I suggest helping children look for God’s gifts all around us.
One way to do this is to do what we do at Thanksgiving. Place a jar or a small container on your dinner table or in a visible place. When you are reminded of a good thing God is doing right now, write or draw it on a piece of paper and add it to the box. Share your prayers around the dinner table or at bedtime each day saying, “thanks be to God.” Decorating the box would be a meaningful and stress-relieving activity if your family needs to spend extended time at home.
Take only what you need: This moment in history is an opportunity to live and practice our faith, remembering that everything we have is a gift from God. In response to God’s love and generosity, we give back to God through our church and care for our neighbors.
We’ve all read the news about hoarding toilet paper and other supplies. Let us practice our faith in God’s abundance by buying what we need and leaving the extras for others who have a need. It is up to us to be wise in discerning what is need and what is luxury. Out of gratitude, let us continue to offer assistance to our neighbors in need and to the mission and ministries of our churches through online giving.
Remember the mystery of Easter: We are Easter people who live, even in uncertain times, with the radical hope that God’s love is more powerful even than death. During the season of Lent we are already preparing to encounter again the meaning of the resurrection. One way to do this with young children is to use the Godly Play Mystery of Easter puzzle cross to think about how happy and sad together make joy. In all things, Christ is with us. Thanks be to God.
Holy One, During this time of concern we give thanks for the gifts of life, healing, and caring community. May naming the ways you love, care, and provide for us ease our worry. We ask for healing for all those who are sick, strength for those who are caring for them, and wisdom for all of us as we make decisions that keep our communities safe.