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Archive for Saturday, January 28, 2012

Faith Forum: What’s your favorite “children’s time” lesson?

January 28, 2012

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The Rev. Glenn Fletcher, pastor of student ministries, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:

I remember as a small boy, the pastor called all the children up to the front as he so often did during the church service. Showing us a tall glass full of what appeared to be crystal clear water, he said, “In the beginning God created us in his image and likeness.” He then displayed smaller glasses of clear water, and told us, “God said we were created VERY good.”

He continued by explaining that sin entered the world, as he poured a small drop of dye into each glass. At first, it hardly seemed to make a difference. But as the dye continued to course its way through the water, it didn’t take long for the entire glass to be changed to a different color.

The pastor then went on to pour out the stained water into other smaller glasses, saying “sin gives birth to sin” and “that no one who lives is without sin.” He did this until the entire table was covered with small glasses filled with stained water.

Then as he held up the tall glass of still clear water, he told us how sad and angry it made God to see all that he made so beautiful be forever ruined. Then he showed us something that has stuck with me all my life.

He said, “God sent his son Jesus to pour out his life so that we can be made clean.” And he poured just a little bit of the clear water from the tall glass into each of the stained glasses. We watched in amazement as each one slowly turned clear again. With the tall glass now empty, the amazing gift of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for my sins became so meaningful to me.

— Send email to Glenn Fletcher at glenn@1inchrist.org.

The Rev. Mary Newberg Gale, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:

The short answer is “every single one.” Among my favorite parts of Sunday morning worship is the time I get to spend with the children. It is a wonderful way to allow kids to feel they have a role in the life and worship of a congregation.

I’ve often shared how difficult it is to ensure that the children’s time is really for them, not simply a chance for the adults to hear a watered-down sermon. It is fundamentally a time to talk about God and our worship in developmentally appropriate ways with the youngest members of our family. And while some children thrive on the genuine laughter and joy that often arises in the pews from their conversations, others can be crippled by what feels like ridicule. It is a very fine line to walk.

My favorite stories to share are the ones in which I feel children share a unique perspective that is missing in our adult faith. There is a reason Jesus tells his followers, “Let the children come to me, for such is the kingdom of God.”

This Advent season I talked to our children and youth about how we can prepare for God. When I asked their thoughts, one child shared, “I can eat breakfast without attitude. We should do everything without attitude.” Adults would be better Christians if we lived by that motto. It is discussion of the Golden Rule and the Greatest Commandment and how they affect our lives that spark a faith that will grow. Watching as children develop a faith of their own is a miraculous experience. Those are my favorite lessons.

— Send e-mail to Mary Newberg Gale at fpcfamilies@sunflower.com.

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