Let the children come

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On January 6th, when we gathered to worship and celebrate Holy Communion, we heard the story of when Jesus was a young boy in the temple.  As Will and I sat down to plan what worship would look like that Sunday, we knew that we wanted to include the children.  We asked children to do the reading parts, and the prayer, and to collect the offering.  I did the acolyting (lighting the candles) - not because we didn't have children to do that, but because so often that is the only task we give them, and there are no age restrictions on any part of worship.

As I began reflecting on this throughout the service, it dawned on me that we had not asked any of the children if they wanted to serve Communion.  Not letting that stop me, when it came time to serve Communion, I asked if there were any children that would like to assist, and that we would give them instructions and help them if they wanted to.

I wasn't sure if I would get much of a response.  It can be scary being in front of everyone.  Throw in talk about eating the body and blood of Jesus, and I didn't really anticipate any volunteers.  That's when a boy, new to our congregation, shot up out of his seat and bolted down to the front.  He was so excited to be included, to have a role, and to be entrusted with such a task.  I almost started crying. 

Some people think that children shouldn't be given a role such as serving Communion.  After all, they probably don't fully understand and appreciate what it is they are doing.  However, I have yet to meet any adults that fully comprehend the mystery of the Eucharist, nor fully appreciate the gift Jesus gave us, nor fully embody the call Jesus gives us to live as "The Body."  Jesus told us that we are to receive the kingdom of Heaven just like children.  I will forever remember the joy on that boy's face as he came forward, not just to receive - but to give. 

The parents, children, and children's ministry volunteers enjoyed that Sunday so much that we have decided that every 1st Sunday of the month when we celebrate Communion we will have the children remain in the service.  Those Sundays will be more inclusive of the children, and even more family friendly that our normal weekly service already is.  Children are always welcome to remain in worship, to participate in any of the roles on Sunday morning, and to receive Communion. 

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