Children in Church...a natural fit...
It is a wonderful thing to have children in church. And an amazing adventure. We, here at St Andrew's, are always delighted, surprised and excited at the grace that surrounds the children who come through our doors...at their grace and the grace they bring to our lives. We'd like to share some of that here with you.
Busy Bags at St Andrew's:
All children and their families are welcome at St Andrew's Church.
However, no matter how short or how engaging a church service might be, it always feels too long for children who are being asked to sit still.
To make everything easier, we have Busy Bags at the back of the church filled with all sorts of things that can keep children quietly busy in their pews.
We mean for parents and caretakers to control the bags, giving and taking back items as their children express interest and then tire of the items. I welcome suggestions for what might be added to the bags.
Kids in Church
Words from our Rector
Please read this piece I found recently. It should help parents who are interested in helping their children with Faith at home:
The Importance of Faith at Home
Practicing faith at home allows children, youth, and adults to connect with God and put faith at the center of their lives. Along with church and other communities, the household is where faith is formed, nurtured, and passed on. Practicing faith at home is fun! Even a few minutes a day, or one faith practice per week can have strong and lasting impacts.
Home Practices from Building Faith
If you are looking for ways to live out your Christian faith at home, we suggest "Home Practices" from the website Building Faith. (www.buildfaith.org/home-practices) Building Faith is a trusted site, published by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.
With Home Practices, you'll find free household activities and practices that are do-able, adaptable, fun, and meaningful. The two-page guides, by authors who have done the practices themselves, include easy-to-follow steps, along with helpful guidelines, and even materials and resources. For example, there is "Make a Sacred Space at Home," and "Birthday Prayers and Blessings." You will also find seasonal offerings for Advent, Lent, and more.
Who is it for?
Home Practices can be used by all households, regardless of the size and form: singles, friends, couples, children, teens, and parents. Likewise, most of the practices can be adapted for use with all ages, whether your household has young children, older children, teens, or adults.
How does it work?
Go to www.buildfaith.org/homepractices and look through the practices. Click on a faith activity that interests you, and enjoy the free, easy-to-follow guide. You can view the guide on your computer, tablet, or smartphone; or you can print it out. The pdf format is especially easy for printing and sharing.
It is never too late to bring faith into your household. Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit means that we have strength and guidance to live and share our faith. Suggestions and tools for faith practices at home can encourage us along the way.
Children and Lent
We often think that Lent is too adult for children. The emphasis on self denial is difficult enough for adults; we do not want to burden children by asking them to make promises that they will probably break. We worry that the crucifixion is too dark for young minds and hearts. We would rather skip over all of that and go straight from Mardi Gras and pancakes to Easter Baskets and new clothes.
But Lent is about Passion and Growth; two things that children have and do with ease and enthusiasm.
One of the tasks of childhood is to come to grips with our emotional selves; to learn what emotions are and then to edit and modulate them appropriately. As adults, we feel badly when we see children in the grip of strong, negative emotions; fear, anger, sorrow. Children, on the other hand, live with these emotions and often revel in them. Lent is a time to experience these emotions and to understand why we have them within the context of our familial conversations and our ecclesiastical liturgy. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, a cross and a mite box on the dining room table, a calendar on the wall, picture books where children can read them can set the mood and ready children for excitement and dread of Palm Sunday, the somber emptiness of Good Friday and the joy of life renewed on Easter Sunday.
Not forgetting that Lent means Spring, we can plant an indoor grass garden in a bowl or a basket. We can force spring bulbs to flower in the dark, dreary days of February and March. We can look for signs of springs outside; snow drops and crocuses peeking out from underneath the snow, forsythia ready to bloom.
Spring will come and that A- word that we put away for Lent will return.
May the children be well fed and rested, their brains ready to learn, their hearts filled with hugs, their backpacks brimming with school supplies and healthy lunches. May they have a hand to hold as they walk to school or to the corner for the bus. May their teachers be eager, excited, compensated well and appreciated even more. May their buildings be sparkling and safe, the water fountains flowing with clean water. May there be time for being outside each day.
When all these prayers cannot be answered, let us pray that the safety net is woven tightly enough to catch any child at risk of slipping, unseen through the cracks. Let us pray that each community is paying attention and ready to make sure all children have what they need for a year of learning and growth. Let us pray that this is the year we adults demand nothing less than this vision of every child ready to learn and every school ready to teach. Empower us to use our voices on behalf of every child, for each and every one is important, each and everyone is deserving of a healthy, safe and nurturing start in life.
by Christine V. Hides, 2016