Sunday, April 05, 2009

Passion/Palm Sunday and Children

Children cry out at the most inopportune times. That is what parents and many adults think. But as a grandpa and a liturgical observer, I find they cry out at most appropriate times. Not always, of course, but sometimes at just the right moment and awaken the dead--all of us who are ho-humming through a Sunday morning.

Today at the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in Honolulu, (confession time here--I did not have a pen to make notes of the precise spot in the order of service) there was a point when an infant cried out as if to give an exclamation point to the moment--perhaps at the conclusion of "Holy, Holy, Holy...Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." All I remember is that it the timing was right on!

Another instance of this happend last All Saints Sunday at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Centreville Virginia. The congregation dutifully sang "This is the feast of victory for our God, for the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign...." With the concluding "Alleluia" came a young child's shout, "Yeah!" It couldn't have been scripted so well if anyone had tried! During the sign of the peace, I went to the mother and asked the child's name. "Lula," she said. I could tell she was a bit embarrassed by it and I said, "Don't be embarrassed--it was just right!" I later asked the pastor if he knew who Lula was. He said, "No." Maybe the family was new--they had sat in the last row (a pretty good sign of new comers). What do children bring to worship that is uniquely theirs to contribute? Themselves--just as they are.

Does your congregation welcome both the limitations and the gifts of children?

We need the children whose rhythms and needs create intersections with and within the ritual so that we have to wake up and be more alert to the moving traffic and recognize that the Holy Spirit is working not only in what the tradition offers, but in the very breath and heart beat and childlike responses of the children among us. And the child within us!