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February 16, 2006


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Shawn Branch

You make a good point Joe. Could we just take all that distracting stuff out?


ahh, you are close to the kingdom of heaven!!!


Joe, I agree, I am not embarrassed with Andrew running around, but I am constantly chasing him to keep him out of trouble. I agree that it takes a parish to raise a child and that we may need to conclude that toddlers are not equipped to handle a 1 hour service. We at SJE have been planning on taking child care to a new level, so that the toddlers and young ones have a place to go where they can run free, and their parents can actually participate in worship free from the need and concern of their children. I really think it is not so much an issue of whether children belong in the congregation on a Sunday morning, but rather it is about enabling the parents to be fully present on a Sunday morning. All of us need time to come and be present before God and his body, and lets face it, being present is difficult when most of your mental and physical attention is focused on the little one running about at the back of the sanctuary.


I visited a parish in England (Marlow on Thames) that had converted the back 1/4 of the church into a quiet play area. Carpeted with lots of toys. Their idea was that parents and children would have a place within the body of worship. Our sending children off to Sunday School, out of the corporate worship has an interesting imagery about it (even if the early church did send catechumens out).


I suspect that the problem isn't the children. The problem is that we've made church into something that doesn't work for children.

Funny that the early church's worship services seem to have been meals? We're the ones that made them into elaborate rituals.


I've been tossing around the idea of looking at parenting or childcare *as* worship, mostly out of necessity, I'll admit (I have three under the age of eight). But to be fully present before an active child, to admire the marvel that is God's gift of a small but growing little human being, to see God's creation through their innocent seeking eyes... I find those are among the most worshipful times in my life. Not just my kids, all kids. I sometimes wonder if I'm not letting "church" and "life" distract me from the true worship of "letting the children come unto me."

With our church meeting in an internet cafe, the handful of kids play on the computers, sit among us, charm their way into large chunks of communion bread, and almost invariably go to whomever is nominally "leading" and insist on having that one person colour with them. No, this is not where they are going to learn all their Bible stories or memorize whole books for Bible quizzing, but I do like the picture of God they are forming for themselves out of it. Yet even in an environment such as this, I have the same basic problem: I am always watching them first (even if it is just the eyes in the back of my head), the "service" second.

Perhaps that is just the way of it until they are all at least seven? Even during the meals that comprised worship for the early church, would not the parents even then still have been more focussed on their young charges than the service?


Yeah. Maybe the real problem is that we see human beings as a distraction from God?


tim - you may be on to something!!

Someone asked me if I was going to look for a parish now that #4 kid is on the way. My reply is that that would leave my wife in the position of being a "Sunday morning clergy widow" - essentially having a newborn and 3 small children to manage every service. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!

We need to learn how to be a church family.


Tim, I am all for returning to a literal table and feasting before the Lord; none of this dry wafer and a sip of wine stuff. Nonetheless, dining with my two-year old is no picnic either. My son teaches me much about God, but he is an ever present magnet of my attention and energy. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, but I am thankful for a break now and again. I think Joe's better half might agree with me as well; once and a while it is nice to be able to have the little people watched and cared for by someone else. This by the way, in no way erodes their value in our midst.

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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