This past Sunday I led our first Children’s Chapel. On such a beautiful day, the children and I gathered in the grass and stayed outside. I brought a basket with me, and we eagerly opened it up to see what was inside. Out came a silk rainbow scarf, a chalice and candle, some flowers, a collection plate, and more. We created an altar together. We lit our chalice, sang hymns, gave an offering, shared joys and concerns, and heard a story about Earth Day. We then shared our learned lesson with the congregation in a fun activity – making seed balls. We had created community, by gathering in shared experience and listening deeply to one another.
Why do you come to church? Maybe you are a looking for a thoughtful, inspiring message that both challenges and comforts you. Maybe you are looking for new friends. And maybe with the support of those friends you’ll be brave enough to act on your beliefs – both inside and outside our church walls. If these are things you’re looking for, then you have come to the right place. Here, we welcome each other into beloved community where all are valued. This is no different than what we do with children in RE classes every Sunday. Our shared goals for a child’s experience at church and an adult’s are fundamentally the same.
So when you spend time with the children of this church, know that this is faith development not just for them, but for you. You will hear that inspiring message, you will learn some new things, you will make new friends, you will act on your beliefs. You do not leave your own Sunday goals behind when you learn with children– you strengthen them. It is not a sacrifice to practice your faith alongside children, it is a privilege. And, most importantly, you will bring forth the mission of this church….creating the beloved community where all are valued.
My DRE colleague Joy Berry recently phrased it this way: it doesn’t take a village, it makes a village. Our beloved community is what happens when we learn, serve, love, and share together. In the words of David Brooks, we will create “an identity and intimacy borne out of a common love.” We will matter to each other, and make a lasting mark on each other’s hearts.
One way we create beloved community is to be together with children. I challenge you to stretch a little out of your comfort zone, and consider what your spiritual path together with children looks like. There are many roles to play, and together we will find the right one for you.