Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
For the past year and a half, Kay and I, along with John and Alissa Murrie, have been sharing and investing time on Sunday evenings with children of the church, third through fifth grade. Our time together coincides with our Presbyterian Youth Connection, a youth fellowship consisting of middle and high school students. I can tell you from first-hand experience that our children are bright, energetic and always ready to soak up something new. Knowing that many within the congregation may not be aware of what a Sunday evening looks like, I thought I might use this opportunity to give you a brief snapshot of what Christian fellowship looks like with elementary age children.
In addition to a lesson plan that is developed earlier in the week, we usually arrive anywhere from one to two hours early in order to set furniture and prepare for all of the other things that are scheduled to facilitate learning and fellowship. Once the children arrive, we quickly gather in a circle in the Fellowship Hall and share special events from the week past ending with a prayer of thanksgiving and a blessing for the food which is graciously offered by moms and dads. After breaking bread together, we devote time for Bible study and the singing of hymns. The past several weeks our young people have followed the lessons and stories of the lectionary. We have given attention to the seasons of Christmastide and Epiphany especially the events of the Magi coming from the East and the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Last Sunday, we circled the baptismal font in the narthex and talked about the significance of its location taking notice there is always water in the font. Whether we come from east or west, north or south, we encounter the baptismal font at the center of the narthex. By way of baptism, it was explained to our children that we are called to live with Jesus at the center. In our baptism, we belong to God in Jesus Christ. We then moved from the narthex to the chancel where we again gathered in a circle around the font placing our fingers in the water. For a moment we stood in silence. It was awe-inspiring.
As the children continue to be introduced to the major divisions and stories of the Bible in addition to the liturgical seasons of the year, they also enjoy time and space devoted to music, art, drama and dance, hence the acronym MADD. Take note the next time you have the opportunity to walk the hallway between the narthex and Fellowship Hall. You will notice bands of stars draped from the ceiling. Representing the star of Bethlehem, each star holds a name for Jesus that is recorded in the Scripture. Each and every activity supports the theme for a particular evening. I can truly say that I find my experience with the children to be invigorating. The adults learn from them and they are hopefully learning from us. So, let me just say the next Sunday evening you find yourself sitting at home with nothing to do and you’re looking for a little action, stop by. I can promise you will be warmly embraced and welcomed into the flock. (Do you like kick-ball or hide-and-go seek?) Before you know it, two hours will have suddenly passed leaving you to wonder where did the last one hundred and twenty minutes go? What we do on Sunday evenings with our children and youth is one of the ways we do “the ministry of Jesus” at Sea Island. We believe we are called to be involved and engaged with our young people providing them an inviting and non-threatening forum to let their hair down and have a little fun while growing and maturing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And Jesus said, “Do not hinder the little children. Let them come to me for such is the kingdom of God.” And all God’s people said, “Amen.”
Grace and Peace,
+ Pastor Steve