Welcome children! That’s the directive for Day 35 of Lent, this Monday just gone. The phrase of course assumes that ‘we’ are adults, and ‘children’ are the ones ‘we’ need to welcome. But as the fifteen-year-old who wrote a reflection on the passage pointed out, the children who participate at Sanctuary “will continue to learn and see church as something for them, not for their parents and elders.” (Read the rest of her reflection here).
Her comment came to mind at our Palm Sunday service. We told the Palm/Passion story at six stations. As the tension grew, four narrators took over, and we were swept through the events by their powerful reading. A seven-year-old visiting for the first time noticed something: three of our narrators were young people. Which meant, of course, that the second half of our service was almost entirely led by tween and young teenagers.
I wonder what it communicated to that seven-year-old? That church could be a place for her, not only to attend but to contribute? I wonder where else in her life she sees children leading adults, or people of all ages listening, singing and being silent together? And it occurs to me that, for a church to truly welcome children, it takes not only adults, but older or more experienced children who are willing and able to lead, host and draw other children in.