When the worship service began, I noticed how many children were present, especially for a small congregation.
The kids all sat together in the front pews, and when the first hymn started, a few adults helped them find what they were likely most excited about. They opened a chest in the front and handed out instruments — tambourines, rain sticks, and woodblocks.
Then, as all the adults began to sing a slower, opening hymn called “God Is Here,” the kids accompanied the music with their joyful-noisemaking. Musically, these sounds didn’t fit together, and that didn’t matter one bit. Situationally, it was just right. Children were included and leading, and this entry point into the service invited play to be an important part of the community across the age spectrum.
God is Here. I noticed that the kids were singing the hymn text too as they saw the words on the screen up front, a few of them very earnestly, even as they jiggled tambourines.
God is here! As we your people
meet to offer praise and prayer,
May we find in fuller measure
what it is in Christ we share. . .
Here are symbols to remind us
of our lifelong need of grace;
Here are table, font, and pulpit (and tambourines!)
Here the cross has central place. . .
Here our children find a welcome
in the Shepherd’s flock and fold,
Here, as wine and bread are taken,
Christ sustains us as of old. . .
As this service started, these kids didn’t have any big inhibitions. They were also reverent from the perspective of being exactly themselves.
This week, I keep thinking about the word Wholehearted.
I wonder, what it would be like to live this day…
… without fears of what others might think,
reverent from the perspective of being exactly ourselves?
The congregation I was visiting was Garden City Presbyterian Church in Garden City, Michigan.