Children’s time at church is such a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I dislike that the kids seem paraded up front on display, where their unabashed curiosity, evolving faith, and sweet antics entertain the watching adults like an adorable weekly installment of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” On the other hand, give me half as many adults who exhibit so much excitement and curiosity about their evolving faith. Pretty sure, to paraphrase John Wesley, they alone could prevail against the gates of hell.
We’ve experienced an interesting shift at the church where I serve. Children’s time has gotten younger, with middle school and even most elementary school kids staying in their seats during the children’s message, and a gaggle of small toddlers, preschoolers, and very early elementary kids surrounding me. This only serves to heighten the tendency for unabashed curiosity, evolving faith, and sweet antics. And they do say the darnedest things.
This week, while I was trying and failing miserably to draw their attention to the coloring book in my hands as encouragement to draw outside the lines or color Jesus with purple skin, a preschooler pointed at the altar behind me, set for communion (which we serve by intinction, that is, each person takes a piece of bread, which they then dip into the cup of grape juice).
“Oooh!” she exclaimed. “Are we doing the dipping part? That’s my favorite part!”
Mine too, kiddo. And may we all be so excited about it.
Later, when I began the communion liturgy, I paused to make sure that someone was getting the kids from children’s church. “We don’t want them to miss the ‘dipping part’,” I said, to the titters of the rest of the congregation. “No one who is that excited about communion should ever be hindered from coming to Christ’s table.”
With the children back in the sanctuary, this also gave me more wiggle room, I felt, to tell the story and say prayers for communion in a more kid-friendly way, connecting to their excitement as best I could. Later, adults would tell me that they really “got” communion this week, and felt it was connected to the message of faith that goes beyond the basics.
All because, really, of a child with simple, exuberant faith, and a love for the dipping part.