Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Good morning

My first "Family Service" at Church in the Valley this morning...
I know, I know - every time we gather as the people of God it should be a family service...And there's clearly something wrong if it's not "all age" every week...But I've inherited this, and there is something to be said for earmarking one particular Sunday on which the children from our church school are specially encouraged to join us for worship - and also, a Sunday on which children are invited back to celebrate the anniversary of their baptism.
Whether that makes it also the best Sunday to invite the congregation from the rather more formal Church on the Hill for a Benefice service is another question that remains to be discussed....but for the moment, that's the way things are.
So...instead of the organ (and our highly professional organist, who produces miracles from the congregation on a weekly basis) we have a rather gifted pianist whose preferences are rather more along the Mission Praise and music group lines. We have a shortened liturgy. We have a parish breakfast of tea and toast (between the 8.00 and the 10.00) and, when it's not a Bank holiday weekend, we even have some extra children in our midst.
When it came to the sermon slot, I invited them to join me sitting on the edge of the dais and told the story from there, which felt fine and was mostly well- received I think - but my favourite moment came just before the Peace, when the baptism anniversary children are invited to bring up their baptism candles for a round of applause and a prayer. There was just one baptism child there - celebrating his third anniversary. Together we lit his candle from the Paschal Candle, I prayed for him and then told him to keep on shining for God and to take his candle carefully back to his parents.
I don't think I have ever been taken so seriously.
With immense dignity, one slow, slow step at a time, he made his way down the aisle, savouring every moment of glory. The congregation were entranced and so was I. I rather think God enjoyed it too...and goodness, that child did shine!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea - celebrating the anniversary of baptism with a relighting of the candle - can I pinch it please?
We encourage all potential baptism families to join us for at least one "family service" beforehand and then the candle and certificates are given out at the following one - and inviting them back for the anniversary will help keep in touch with those who don't join our Junior Church. Many thanks from a Random Lurker!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, I can just picture that solemn little child.

Our parish had its Youth Service today. Children performed the music and did all the readings except the Gospel. A teenager gave the homily. And all the children crowded around the altar during the consecration and even got to say some of the liturgy with our priest (not the actual consecration part though). Although these services never run as smoothly, it's good to help the children feel they are part of the parish. I'm sure your family service accomplishes much the same thing.

Ruby said...

what a wonderful image of grave dignity -- I wonder if that's how God sees us grown-ups when we are at our solemn best!

Songbird said...

what a beautiful image!

more cows than people said...

yes, a shimmering image. wow.

and what a great practice... makes me wish i were going to be in the parish a bit longer...