As much as we celebrate and promote simple crafts with a good message here at JG&G even we can fall into the trap of super-pastor/super-church worker.
You know what I mean, the feeling like you need to always go above and beyond, like you need to come up with the most amazing activities and theologically profound kid’s time.
But, this past week two kids reminded me of what church (i.e. worship services) is all about: exploring our faith together in community.
What is the purpose of church for our littlest members?
First off, the other week my toddler told me “I am happy at church.” Which, during a pandemic with awkward in-person worship, I got to say made my day. Because, as church workers, shouldn’t that our greatest hope?
Our prayer is that our children feel safe in our services, that it is a place for them to observe and participate. We dream that they might glimpse and engage with God in community, providing them with support and inspiration as they start off on their faith journey. So, to have my 2.5 year old tell me she was happy at church made me feel like all my planning and work was worth it.
Now, when asked what it was that made her feel happy? Well, she said “the pa-nano” (piano). And, you know what? I’ll take it!
A Crown for the Child of a King
In a similar vein, I was feeling a bit down about the activities we’d been doing on Sundays. I have religiously been working to supply quality activity bags, including liturgically appropriate colouring sheets. But, some days I feel like the colouring sheet business isn’t worth the effort. Are the kids really getting anything out of it?
For the Reign of Christ the King Sunday I found some old gold doilies and thought, what the heck!, we’ll make paper crowns. But I honestly didn’t think much of it. I couldn’t imagine the kids would find it very engaging.
But, you know what the one kid who attended church that Sunday said, when I asked if she liked making her crown (which she immediately wore for the whole service)?
“It was awesome!”
And, once again, it struck me that all this little girl was looking for was to know that she was a valuable part of our worship. She loves to colour and craft. By having a craft for her, even a simple one, it says we see and know her, and we’re excited to have her at worship with us.
And, when the cute kid asks you to wear the crown they made? By George, the adults do it!
Faith is messy and wonderful, church should be too
These simple activities are about making our faith come alive, and what better way to do that than to lift up the marginalized that Jesus did also.
These activities remind us to not take ourselves too seriously, to have fun and get messy as we work to deepen out relationship with God.
Last week we did a paint-drip collaborative art piece to remind us of God’s call in Amos 5.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.Amos 5:24 CEB
The 96 year-old had as much fun as the 2 year-old, and a number of adults commented later on that they really enjoyed being able to participate–something that has been harder and hard to coordinate with COVID regulations in my province.
Something as simple as dripping paint down a canvas brought the text alive. And now we can proudly display our efforts in the sanctuary as a continual reminder of God’s justice and righteousness at work in our world.
So, let’s have a little grace for ourselves, and a whole lot of fun! We’re not called to make everything the best and brightest but to follow after Jesus authentically and with earnest. This Advent season as we wait upon the arrival of the Christ-Child, let’s put aside our egos and anxieties so that we don’t miss the wonder of the season through a child’s (or a 96 year-old’s) eyes!