Finding our Children within the "Big Picture" -- Rev. Julie Long
I recently read an article published in the Associated Baptist Press e-newsletter by Amy Butler, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. In the article, Butler tells about her conversation with a church member who is mother to 2 ½ year-old Lucy. Lucy’s mother told Butler that her child was absolutely taken with the stewardship materials that the church had published for the fall stewardship campaign.
Butler expressed her surprise, admitting that rarely does anyone get excited about stewardship materials and that certainly the toddler class was not their target audience. But Lucy’s mom went on to explain that Lucy especially loved the big congregational group picture on the front.
“Lucy likes to look at it,” her mom said, “and point out the people she knows. She can see her friends from the nursery, and her teachers from children’s music. She points out her parents and her pastors. And even though her head is turned in the picture, she especially loves to look intently at the picture and find herself, right there in the middle of all her friends from church.”
What a crucial task for us as a congregation – helping our children to find themselves within the “big picture” of the church! Children know when they are loved and where they belong. When our children can find themselves in the “big picture” of the church, they can feel the love of our church family and somehow learn to feel God’s love surrounding them, too.
This Sunday, we will help our children find their place within the “big picture.” Our children will be leading our worship service through their prayers, their service, their stories and their songs. When they look out from the pulpit or across the pew as they pass the offering plate, they will see the friends they have known since the nursery, their teachers, their parents, their ministers, and all those who have become family to them in this sacred place.
The children won’t be doing it to show off or get attention. They will lead us with sincerity and authenticity and a deep desire to offer God their best. They will do it because they see themselves within the “big picture” of this congregation. They will be welcomed to do so because this congregation sees them in the same way.
So come and worship on Sunday morning with a smile, because there will be a big family picture, and we want all of God’s children included.