NOAH SAID: No matter what happened during the week, when I walk in here, I feel like myself again – and maybe even become a little bit better … For me, God is a feeling, and I feel it here. It’s the easiest place for me to feel close to God. REUBEN SAID: I agree. When you look at all the faces, and see them smiling and joyful, you know God is here. I always feel that here.
On Saturday we gathered to reflect on our our first year together. It was a rare and precious thing to be at a church meeting which included children telling stories about the year, taking part in focus groups, and naming what is good and what they think needs to change. And as a pastor, it was incredibly moving and affirming to hear children spontaneously say that God is in the house.
When we reconvened from our small groups, the first person to speak to the whole was a child; when the discussion came to a close, another child opened in prayer, giving thanks to God for Sanctuary and for all that we are and do. This was not a meeting about ‘children’s issues’: but it was a meeting for a congregation which began for children, and is dominated by children. So it was not just special to listen to their voices, but vital: they are our key stakeholders. All the same, few organisations organise their meetings so that children can contribute, so well done all of you who helped make that happen.
MERCY SAID: This is like kids church — only there are adults, too!!
Certainly we need to keep thinking about how to serve those people who are no longer children and not quite adults. We need to keep thinking about language and liturgy and music and hospitality, and many other things. But for now, let’s celebrate that we have achieved our major goal: to establish a congregation with a weekly service which many children love, and in which many sense the presence of God. I suspect that their full involvement in the Sunday service helped empower them to contribute to and comment on our life together at the review.
REUBEN SAID: You know, even if we stop tomorrow I will always remember Sanctuary. It’s really special.
What makes it so special is the people. Thank you for coming on the journey so far, and for bringing the kids. It may not have been what you expected; it’s certainly not perfect; it will continue to evolve and grow: but it is also good now. Some first-time visitors on Sunday remarked that it feels like the Acts church: deeply alive, and filled with the Spirit. Let’s give thanks for that present reality, even as we ever more deeply seek “God’s life, and find our future there” (quoting Elizabeth J Smith God Gives Us a Future).
Emailed to Sanctuary 2 August 2017 (c) Sanctuary, 2017. The header shows a panel from the Gospel of Saint Mark Commemorative Screen at the Athol Gill Centre in Clifton Hill. The artist is David Wong. Love it!