a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Invitation: let them come

Just after the scripture reading we focused on today,
Jesus offers an invitation we all need to hear:
“Let the little children come to me…”
Let the humble, the meek, the ignored come.
Let the noisy, the misbehaving, the boisterous come.
Let the ones who ask the hard questions come.
Let the ones who trust in ways we cannot understand come.
Let all come to the table,
“…and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”
It is to us, my friends, that the kingdom of God belongs.
All are welcome at this table.

 

Submitted by Rev. Nathan Williams, Echo Hill Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids, IA

A Prayer for Back to School

Back to school time is fast approaching where I live. In churches, this time of year (often) means a return to regular schedules. Any group that takes a break for the summer is getting ready to start again. When I think about the children and youth of the church, I am always aware of our responsibilities to them. We promise in the baptismal covenant with these words.

“Do you, who witness and celebrate this sacrament, promise your love, support and care to the one about to be baptized as he/she lives and grows in Christ?

Congregational Response- We promise our love, support, and care.”

(United Church of Christ Book of Worship, 139).

We promise in our Safe Sanctuary covenant to protect our children and youth as we help them live into the baptismal promises. As the new school and program year begins, I think churches should welcome and celebrate this time of year, and we can do that by sharing this prayer.

One-I’d like to invite all of our children and youth to please come up front. If you would sit or stand facing the congregation. We’d like you to be able to see all those adults out there.

(after the children and youth are up front)

Today, we are going to pray for you as summer ends and a new year of school and church begins. You may have already started back to school or may not be in school yet. You may be changing to a new Sunday School class or starting youth group for the first time this year. As so many things in our lives change, some things do not change. All of those people out there have promised to help you grow and know God loves you.

I invite the teachers to stand. Anyone who teaches here at church, youth group leaders, and teachers in our schools please stand.

Teachers-Dear God, we surround these children and youth with our love and support for the coming year. Give them a spirit of curiosity. Give them time to play and learn outside in your creation. Give them a sense of wonder at how much they know and how much there is to learn. Give all of us who teach a spirit of compassion as we journey with our students. Amen.

One-Teachers remain standing. Parents and guardians please stand.

Parents and Guardians-Loving God, give us patience on hard days. Remind us you love our children even more than we do. Give our kids a spirit of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. Give our kids strength to stand up for what is right. May they always know how much you love them and we love them. Amen.

One-Parents, guardians, and teachers keep standing. Now, I invite the rest of the congregation and any of our guest to stand.

All-God, remind us of the promises we made to protect and love these children and youth. Help us to live those promises daily. Bless all these children and youth that they may know your love and share it with others. We promise to keep these children safe, give them opportunities to know you, and involve them in the life of the church with God’s help. Amen. 

One-Look out at all those people who love you and have prayed for you. I hope you will remember how much your church family loves you and how much God loves you as we start a new year together.

Submitted by Susannah deBenedetto

brainstorming: incorporating children in worship leadership

This week the gospel text includes one of those saying of Jesus about welcoming children. While we know that this is primarily a socio-political statement, we also know that it’s important to encourage children to worship with the community and to learn to take on various roles in worship–it’s good for them and for the rest of us too.

So…what are some ways you incorporate young people into the worship life of your congregation?

And what are some liturgical ideas for bringing up the importance of being led by young people? (to get your creative juices flowing, here’s a call to worship from contributor Stephanie Anthony.)

 

CTW: Here, Now!

All week long,

we are asked to be many things to many people,

But here, now,

we are simply your children, O God.

All week long,

we are pushed and pulled, torn in many directions,

But here, now,

we find our center, O Christ.

Here, now,

ready our hearts for worship, O Holy Spirit.

Submitted by Rev. Sarah W. Wiles, Bethany Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA)