Kids And Families Worship
I remember my son, during a worship service where the fourth grade school choir was singing, belting out the words to the song at the top of his lungs, way above everyone else. Was I embarrassed? No way. Was I thrilled? You bet. He sang those words with zest and with a purpose. I think about that memory when I see the children of Trinity singing on select Sundays. The parents of these children are likely thrilled, too, that their kids are practicing and memorizing spiritual songs, unavoidably assimilating the words and their message as they contribute to the worship experience for everyone. These children are preaching the Word of God to us in song. Thanks be to God for their hearts and voices!
It is in participating with us in our spiritual walk, including worshiping together, that kids really “get” the importance of what Christ means to us. It is by walking and worshiping with us that what is important to us becomes important to them.
Next Sunday, before services, pray for your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, children of Trinity. Pray that God speaks to them in Word and song. Pray for faithful parents who regularly worship together with their children, aligning their hearts and voices in the splendor of God’s love.
Heavenly Father, bless our families as they worship in your house. May they come to understand the thrill of knowing that your Word and Sacraments are a foretaste of the heavenly feast awaiting all your children in heaven. Amen.
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16
How easy it is to hear these words of Jesus and think, “Isn’t that nice. Jesus loves children too.” Look deeper. While we “adults” may have spent more time in God’s Word and may know how to behave in church, the kingdom of God belongs to all who receive it like little children.
My Dad was a gifted chemist. After WWI, science and technology were unlocking many mysteries of God’s creation. People often saw science, rather than Jesus, as the answer to the world’s problems. Mom told of people asking Dad if he had trouble believing things like creation, the Trinity, communion, or other mysteries of God. He’d respond in child-like faith that he had no problem at all. These things were true because our wonderful God said so.
We worship God in our families with children… as children!
Lord, please grant me a child-like faith. May I bring the children in my midst to your loving arms knowing that we all trust in you and depend on you in the same way. Amen.
Deuteronomy 16:11a (ESV)
God tells us worship has rhythm. The Sabbath rest places a focus of God’s great acts of creation and redemption into weekly rhythm. Deuteronomy 16 lists the three pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish worship tradition. Three times a year you make the trip to Jerusalem - another rhythm. Each festival description has the line about rejoicing before the Lord with your son and your daughter. Ahhh, worship is rhythmic and intergenerational!
Worship is a great opportunity to teach children. My Mom would cue me to listen for a particular word and broaden my understanding of God’s great works of creation and redemption. I model an open ear and careful attention to God’s Word for my grandchildren. I give everyone’s kids a sense of belonging as I make smiling eye contact and they learn to add their voice to mine in the chorus.
But don’t forget the importance of teaching about the rhythm of worship. Does your worship life have a weekly rhythm including festival high points? This rhythmic worship becomes ingrained into children’s expectations. Before long, kids will automatically order their life on that rhythm and even reinforce it for their parents. They learn to look for and greet other adults in their Trinity family each week.
Father in Heaven, I want to declare your greatness to another generation. Holy Spirit, like breathing in and out give me a steady rhythm of worship that includes all generations. I pray in the name of Jesus, the one worthy of all my worship. Amen.
Last weekend there were a number of small children in church. Some were sitting quietly, looking at books, eating or drinking something, or attempting to talk in a “whisper”. Others were restless and noisy. In fact some members of the congregation began staring; others obviously wished the child wasn’t there; still others looked just plain disgusted and angry. Some toddler had the audacity to disrupt their worship! Yet there were others whose body language showed love and understanding. Some even seemed to offer a word of encouragement to the child and his family after the service.
Children are among us as we worship. As a body of Christ, how do we respond? Do we wish the little ones weren’t there? Do we think parents shouldn’t bring small children to worship or that they should take them out immediately when they become restless? Or are we delighted to see children in worship, welcoming them openly? Are we thankful to see families worshiping together? Are we willing to forgo a little of our worship experience to honor theirs?
Jesus speaks compellingly about little ones - “whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” Let’s embrace the words of Jesus as we welcome children and their families in worship!
Lord, Help us welcome children as we would you. Guide us to help children and their parents feel comfortable, wanted and loved as they worship with us. Lead me to rejoice and give thanks that these young ones are among us as together we live look and love like Jesus each day. Amen.
I love music and it has been an integral part of my worship experience in church. I enjoy the praise and worship time during service because my spirit comes alive and I find comfort and joy in the words that I sing. Unfortunately I had also noticed that if the music didn't capture my emotion, my ability to fully worship was negatively impacted and I felt disconnected from God. Sound familiar?
One day the Lord shared with me, “Danielle you are not truly worshipping Me and I know that you think you are.” The Lord wanted me to speak aloud with praise and thanksgiving in all that He has done and continues to do on a daily basis. As I began to open my mouth and thank the Lord from the smallest detail, the Spirit of God arose powerfully in me and I became overwhelmed with gratitude and adoration for Him. Now, I understand the true nature of worship as it comes from the heart and not the head.
What God was showing me was that just as adults and kids need to hear “Thank you” and “I love you” from one another, so it is that God our Father desires to hear the same from us, his precious children.
God Almighty, you are an awesome Father! Thank you for giving me life and for loving me as much as you do in Jesus name. Amen.
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