• Children have many gifts to offer the gathered community, including new ways of seeing old familiar rituals. Children often show an understanding of the wonder and mystery of the sacraments lost to many adults. And they take nothing for granted!
• Children also bring noise, awkward questions, confusion and sometimes doughnuts. Yet their presence is essential to the church now, not only to the growth and vitality of the church in the future.
• Welcoming children in church at its most sacred moments demonstrates the truth of St. Paul’s assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God. And only by worshiping together with its children can a community pass on its traditions for praising God through Word and Sacrament, music and prayer.
• Often children have profound religious and spiritual experiences because they are sometimes more open to them than adults, who may block awareness of God’s presence with thoughts. Children are frequently available to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Many adults have been surprised at what children absorb when it seems they are in their own world, playing, drawing or coloring.
• The sanctuary is a sacred place, where each child is one of many people gathered to experience the presence of God among us, within community. Before or after the service, parents and caregivers can talk to their children about how the sanctuary differs from other familiar places (like a playground, move theater, or classroom).
• Children belong in church. They are part of this parish family and we share responsibility for nurturing their spiritual needs. They will thrive with our loving acceptance of them as partners in the faith of Jesus Christ.
“Then Jesus took a child and had him stand in front of them. He put his arms around him and said to them: ”Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not only me but also the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37
(Adapted with thanks from St. Columba’s Church, Washington D.C. and St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley, Los Olivos, California)
Faithfully Yours, +Catherine