Last week was a whirlwind of activity with two funerals, our board and committee meetings, a study group, a film showing, and conversations with families in crisis. At times it felt that I could hardly catch my breath, literally and figuratively.
One moment kept coming back to me and it was from Sunday worship. It made me smile every time. The gospel reading from Luke included Jesus describing himself as a hen, a momma chicken, gathering chicks protectively under her wings.
I decided to get the children to make the noises of barnyard animals including cows and sheep, then culminating with a hen. The tweens and teens were good sports and boosted the noise level. At the end I invited the adults to cluck up a storm as well. They did! And we all laughed about it.
Earlier in my ministry I would never have considered asking adults to participate that way, in part because I wouldn't want to deal with the huffing and puffings afterward. But it seems that we have come to realize how precious our children and youth are, and we are willing to step out of the old comfort zone to make them feel at home. I have always found the St. Paul's congregation willing and ready to respond to our young people and have them involved in every aspect of congregational life.
A few months ago we had a visiting grandchild in worship and before the service grandma told me that she had just explained that we sing in church, but not Old McDonald Had a Farm (hmm, recurring theme here.) They came to the front together and when I looked at her sweet little face I couldn't resist. I turned to our organist Doug Dewell, always a good sport, and asked if he would strike up Old McD. The congregation sang with great enthusiasm. I still did my Children's Time as planned but we threw in a little spontaneity.
On a slightly more serious note, a group of our tweens joined grandad-aged Jerry J. recently in Bowling for Big Brothers and Sisters. The kids swarmed us for sponsorships, and they had a great time. What a wonderful cross-generational activity.
Are you comfortable with the changing tone of what happens in worship?How do you think we do with including children and youth?