Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Blessings of Children

Perhaps it's just me.
Or maybe down deep it's the reason all pastors become pastors (besides a call from God of course).
The children.  Oh, the children!

The children!  Their willingness to ask questions about God.  Their curiosity.  Their love.  Their hands open to receive God's gift of bread and wine.  Their laughter and tears.  The children who draw pictures of what God looks like and pictures of the pastor.  The children who know that church is a safe place.  The children who are not afraid to come forward in church and know that they are valued and loved.

For a while we didn't hear too many children in worship.
When we offered silence for prayers, we had silence.
When we took time to reflect on our sins, silence.
When the sermon was preached, silence.

These days we no longer have silence during the prayers or during the sermon.  We hear the laughter and cries of children who are just coming to know their own voices, who are eager to share with the world.  We hear the echo of "Amens" and "Alleluias!"  We hear questions about whether they can go to the nursery or visit with their friends.  We hear about snack time.  We have visitors up and down the aisles.  We have children.  We have life.

I look out at the congregation each and every Sunday and I give thanks.  I offer God's words of grace and love and know that the children, too, offer their voices in worship, offer words of God's grace and love.

You see, pastors need children in worship to remind them over and over again that this worship thing isn't about us.  Ever.  It's not about me.

It's about God.  It's about the Gospel.  The good news of Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose for us.  Each of us.  It's about community.  All of us.  Each and every one of us.  It's about blessing.

One of our spunky two-year-olds taught me a lesson about blessing.  This red-headed two-year-old comes to the communion table with her hands covering her forehead.  She knows I'm going to give her a blessing so she keeps her hands on her forehead.  Each Sunday, week after week, blessings are given to the children and this two-year-old, without a doubt, would cry each week upon feeling the blessing. Slowly, though, the cries have abated, but the hands still come up.  But I am not be deterred - blessing she will receive!

A few weeks ago her mother sent me an email and shared that even though her daughter refuses the blessing at church she appears to know its meaning and value since at home she places her hands on her mother and says, "Bless."


Even at two years old, even with placing her hands on her forehead to avoid the blessing, each and every Sunday, even then, she knows the power of a blessing.  She knows that it's not about her.  She shows us that ultimately God blesses us despite our best efforts to keep the blessing away.

We can't get away from God's blessings.  We can't miss the blessings of God.  They are all around us - from the youngest to the oldest and everyone in between.  So next time you hear the delighted sound of a child, remember how blessed we are to be in community.  Together.  Blessed.

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