Church is a place where we mark significant transitions in our lives: it’s a place where babies are baptized, where couples are married, where we say a final goodbye to our loved ones in funerals. At these times, we remember that God and God’s community holds us. In all the changes in our lives, God’s love is a constant.
As we thought about Children’s Sunday this year, we realized that that title was a bit of a misnomer: it’s been a service that has been planned by the children and the youth of our congregation, and a large part of it is recognizing the graduating seniors in our congregation (who are adults now!)
This year, we’ve been blessed to have our children participating in inter-generational worship once a month: we’ve celebrated holidays together, done a baptism during a snow storm, explored the words of the Lord’s Prayer, and more. We’ve opened up our worship to include more art, more candles, different ways of praying, and even a few snacks (when we ate matzah as we re-told the story of the exodus from Egypt). It’s been a gift to all of us to have our children involved in planning and leading worship more than just one Sunday a year. It’s helped all of us connect to God, and it’s helped make a place for all our members to experience worship in new and meaningful ways.
Because of that, we’re shifting the focus on “Children’s Sunday” to “Milestone Sunday.” We’re recognizing the significant milestone of two of our members graduating from high school (congratulations, Erin and Kyle!) and moving on to college. We’ll also be giving Bibles to our 1st graders and our 5th graders: another big milestone.
When we baptize babies in our congregation, after the parents and godparents say their vows, and after Cheryl pours the water on the baby’s head, the rest of us stand and say a vow:
“With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ. We will surround this child with a community of love and forgiveness, that he may grow in his trust of God, and be found faithful in his service to others. We will pray for him, that he may be a true disciple who will walk in the way that leads to life.”
When we mark the milestones in the life of our congregation—from infancy to toddler-hood, to getting your first storybook Bible, to graduating from high school—we’re living out the commitment we made at the baptism of these ones. We remember that we promised to proclaim the good news and live according to Jesus’ example, and that we promised to surround each other with a community of love and forgiveness. We witness God’s faithfulness as people grow up into the adults God has called and created them to be.
My hope is that this won’t just be a time of celebrating the milestones of our young ones. What are some of the milestones you’ve passed this year? Did you make it through a significant illness or hospitalization? Did you get a new job or retire? Did you have a baby or a grand-baby or a great-grand-baby?
Remind us of these milestones (send an email, give us a call, snag Cheryl or me during coffee hour), so that our service can include these, too. God is faithful to us from before we’re born to long after we die, and every mile along the way. We want to remind ourselves of that faithfulness!
With you in God’s love,
PS: I know we’ve been calling it Children’s Sunday for a long time; my hope is not to replace that title, but to shift and open our focus, so that we can all see how God is moving among us, today.