Yesterday the children from Valley Church School gathered in the church for their Harvest Festival. The service, planned entirely by the school, though with a slot for a "word" from me if I felt so moved, was just lovely.
Readings, prayers, songs were all presented beautifully and a good crowd of parents turned up to support their children, and obliged the vicar by sharing in the inter-active story telling with the appropriate actions and sound effects.
Believe me, 200 assorted adults and children all being trees and waving their branches in the breeze is a sight to behold!
Towards the end of the service, the children sang "I'm going to paint a perfect picture"
a song that I first met when the vicarage children were primary aged themselves.
"I'm going to paint a perfect picture
A world of make-believe
No more hunger, war or suffering
The world I'd like to see"
There was a slot immediately after this for "Prayers and Blessing" - so I asked the children whether they thought that the world they had sung about had to be make-believe - or was it something they could help to create? A smattering of hands suggested that some still believed they could make a difference.
Then I asked if they'd LIKE to make a world like that.
All the children's hands went up...which was a help when we began our prayers.
But what shocked me most was that, even when I asked again, barely a dozen adults thought that the world of the song was worth hoping for, working for, believing in.
They were so sure that there was no possibility of such a dream becoming reality that they weren't prepared to invest even a token gesture of hope in it.
I know life isn't easy here in the valley - but to have completely lost sight of a better future...
I came home and wept for them.