Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:4)
Fellow Members of St. Simon & St. Jude,
Worshiping together as the body of Christ is one of the most powerful ways have to teach what it means to be a child of God. St. Simon & St. Jude has always been a church were all are welcome to participate as fully as they are able, regardless of gender, race, ability or age. This includes young children and their parents. While a young child may not be able to fully comprehend everything that goes on in worship, there is no better way for them to grow into mature Christians than to participate with their parents in the day-in and day-out rhythms corporate worship.
Over the coming months, we will be exploring appropriate ways to help younger children engage more fully in all aspects of our parish life. Not everything we try will succeed, and not everything we try will be right for every family. But my hope is that, over time, we will be able to engage all of our young members in the fullness of life in our community.
Beginning this Sunday, I would like for us to begin trying two things:
- Provide a way for small children to see and hear the service.
We're going to try to do this by reserving the first few rows on the right side of the main aisle for families with small children. We understand that not everyone will feel comfortable sitting up front. But we also know that children are visual learners, and want to give them every opportunity to experience the richness of our liturgy.
- Keep children in the sanctuary during worship.
The nursery is fine for children under 4 years old, and there will be occasions when your child simply needs some quiet time. But the fact is that in liturgical churches, we learn how to worship by worshiping together – by singing the hymns, by saying the prayers, and by sitting as quietly as we are able when it is time to watch and listen. These skills can only be learned by practicing within the larger congregation, regardless of age. For this reason, I am asking all parents to please keep their children, aged 4 years old and older, in the sanctuary. And if you do have a child in the nursery, please remember to bring them back into the sanctuary at the passing of the Peace so that we are all together for Holy Communion.
I welcome any suggestions or concerns you might have concerning these and other practices as we explore ways to engage our young people in the full life of the parish.
When young children are present, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When they are present, we are all reminded that corporate worship is something that we all share and members of the body of Christ and of one another. When we share the Word and Sacrament together, we are knit into the family God.
May God bless you and those you love this New Year.