In the Gospels we learn of Jesus’ relationships with children. He regularly blessed, healed, encouraged, and worked with them. Whether it was inviting his disciples to see faith from their eyes or joining with them to feed 5000 people, Jesus recognized the gifts of children and their ministry.
Beginning on the first Sunday of Lent, St. Stephen’s will be experimenting with a new space and 8:30 a.m. offering for children in the context of the Eucharist. We will be removing some of the pews in the chapel area of the nave so that we can create a space for children to spread out quietly on a rug and engage with appropriate materials on their level. Adults can get on the floor too, if they choose! Additionally, we will be introducing a children’s sermon at the 8:30 Eucharist using adapted Godly Play materials. Instead of leaving the nave for a separate rite, as happens at 10:30 a.m., families will remain together.
Adults may overhear the children’s lesson and get more out of it than the sermon! This fact reflects the reality that many of us have holes in our biblical literacy and knowledge of our heritage.
These changes will mean that some of us may be moved from our usual spots. This dislocation may feel disruptive. I want to remind you of our common callings: to grow spiritually and numerically, to close demographic gaps, to invite, welcome and connect with others. This pilot is intended to further these goals.
Our hope is that this space will be an outward and visible sign of St. Stephen’s willingness to embrace the presence of children in our midst and to grow into the full stature of Christ together.