We Want Children in Worship: Children Share

By Rev. Joel S. Eden, Associate Pastor

A common saying among those who work with younger kids these days is that “sharing is caring”. It’s actually so commonly said that the phrase itself has taken on a bit of a life of its own. It’s a simple concept, of course: when you share something that you have with someone else, you are showing them that you care about them and value them enough to give up something that is yours. (The joke comes in when someone points out that sharing your germs isn’t caring or that we’re not always willing to share our favorite chocolate dessert or potato chips or some other vice.)

But when children are in worship, lots of sharing is taking place—and that’s a very caring thing. This can be understood very easily from many perspectives.

Consider first what happens from the child’s perspective. When children are in worship and are participating in whatever ways they are able, they share in the songs and music of the church by lending their own voice to the euphony. Likewise, they add a sweet timbre to the communal voice when they share the words that are spoken back to the pastor in the liturgy. They share in the prayers and in the overall community experience of the family of faith and are very much a part of it. But they also share what they learn when they ask questions at home, repeat back what they heard in the sermon, or play-baptize their dolls and toys in the bathtub. They share in more ways than we often realize.

From the perspective of the adults, though, there is also plenty of sharing going on. The adults share their faith with the young ones around them through the recitation of the creeds, through their attentiveness to the word of God, and through their devotion to prayer during the service. They share the love that God has shown them by then sharing that love with the little ones around them. When the 80-year-old shakes the hand of the 10-year-old, he’s sharing Jesus’ love. When the grandma smiles at the infant in the pew in front of her and gets her to smile, too, she’s sharing Jesus’ love. When the maturing young adult befriends the awkward  adolescent, Jesus’ love is being shared! The children share in the love of the community of Christ when the adults include them.

But there is (at least) one more perspective worth noting: God’s. God shares with adults and children alike in worship. What God shares with adults he also shares with children. He shares his love and his faithfulness, his forgiveness and his joy, his wisdom and his Spirit. Children share in the gifts of God right along with their parents and the rest of the community. Jesus said to let the little children come to him, because what He has to share is for them as well.

Children share with adults in worship. Adults share with children in worship. God shares with all of us. That kind of sharing definitely is caring!

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