Blog post by the Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
On Sunday I was the keynote speaker for Webster Groves community celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a wonderful and full program. What made the event outstanding were the presentations of the children. A large elementary age children’s choir sang two songs. Later, a group of teenagers sang with tight harmonies and strong emotion.
While the children were getting organized to sing, some were nervous, others laughing, while others were just being obedient. The occasional children’s cough could be heard (it is flu season!). Just seeing them in their bright orange t-shirts and black slacks warmed my heart.
Having children present in our homes and in our congregations, makes a difference. My youngest daughter turns 25 in April. I do not have grandchildren (I’ve let each of my daughters know that my time is running out- no pressure!). I haven’t had to “kid proof” my home in over 15 years!
In Milwaukee, I met an activist who wanted to connect with the presbytery. She had a four year old boy. I thought I’d try convincing her to attend one of my congregations. She asked if the church was “child friendly.” She said she needs a crying-out-loud-running-in-the-aisles-hiding-under-the-pews child friendly church!
The presence of children changes our worship, the structure of our meetings, the content of our curriculum, and what we find meaningful. Children force us to take seriously the economy and ecology. We are forced to think about the financial safety net they will inherit, the poisons we are dumping into the water and air, and the condition of the earth we are leaving for them.
Children bring energy, and mistakes that demand forgiveness. Children remind us that the things we valued and thought were so important when we were young, can dissolve like sugar in coffee, and God still loves us, and life goes on.
I encourage our congregations to make your church a home for children. By doing ministry for children, we open our hearts for God’s grace in our lives.
Rev. Craig M. Howard