Rev. Paul’s Thoughts from the Chancel Steps . . .
Each Sunday we take time for the "Young at Heart." I am not certain who coined the idea, or when. Of course, it is generally a time for me to share a bit with the children in our congregation. It has been a lot of fun when the open invitation to all the "Young at Heart" brings many more tall people to the Chancel Steps too! It's hard to think of a Sunday when I didn't ask everyone to join me in a little prayer.
Father in heaven, hear our prayer.
Keep us in our loving care.
Be our guide in all we do.
Bless all those who love us, too. Amen.
Childhood memories of church should be positive and strong. This is what leads young people back to worship after their natural break away as young adults. It has been such a pleasure watching our Old Windham children and youth grow in front of my eyes, week by week. They have grown in stature for sure. They have also grown in their ability to set shyness aside and feel free to ask any question or to offer any answer. Of course, I have joked with them that the best answer to my question is likely "God," "Love," or "Jesus." However, there have been special and remarkable times when the understanding we share goes deeper.
It is very easy for the remaining pew sitters among us to think that this time is like a short commercial break, or a bit of light entertainment. Sure, the youngsters might squirm a bit, might freely let us know who is their brother or sister, or they might even say something a little embarrassing, but I believe it is all serious business. It is the serious business of ensuring that even the littlest among us feel welcome and comfortable. Thanks so much to all those who put in the extra effort to include children here at Old Windham!
Remember how the twelve sat near to Jesus, soaking up his every word, knowing those words had incredible significance for their life and maybe even for the whole world. They were so intent on getting what they needed from Jesus that they actually tried to stop children from having their turn. It was not too long ago in our own society when it was common to severely declare, "Children should be seen and not heard!" Jesus, seeing this attempt to divide brought them up short. Everyone was welcome in his presence. Their station in life made no difference to him. So as you read this, you have already thought those words: "Suffer the little children to come unto me." Memory verses out of the centuries old King James Version continue prodding us down the wrong road. "Suffer" in that time did indeed mean to permit, to allow, to encourage. I well remember the anguish we put our parents through as they gathered the six of us on Sundays to get ready and go to church and not be late! Mom actually asked the minister to ensure that the opening hymn had eight to ten verses just to allow the Currie clan to sneak in while everyone had their heads buried in the hymnary! Let us recognize how fortunate we are to have families willing to be part of our church community. Moms and Dads, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, or even older siblings and friends, all take on the sometimes difficult Sunday morning ritual. As Jesus reminds us:
"to such belong the kingdom of God!"
When mothers of Salem
their children brought to Jesus,
The stern disciples drove them back
and bade them depart;
But Jesus saw them ere they fled,
And sweetly smiled and kindly said,
"Suffer little children to come unto Me.