Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Daddy always said he could preach louder than any child could scream. . .

Children are nothing like adults. Although sometimes adults do act like children, the mindset and the thinking of a child is nothing like the rationale adults have for their actions. It is hard for adults to create a program that actually works and accomplishes set goals because children do not understand most abstract concepts in the same way that adults do. I believe that children do understand abstract concepts. They just do not understand them the way adults do. Take the example of God. Children believe in God though they do not see Him. They know He is there and they will share the truth about Jesus just as much as they will share what Mommy and Daddy fought about that morning. For them, it is truth, and what they can see is no different than what they can't. However, the end result of the belief that children do not understand abstract concepts at all is that many children's programs designed to educate in religious and Christian matters are "dumbed" down. People believe that the divine service is too much for children, and so programs are created to take the children out of church and put them in a separate activity that is deemed easier to understand. Is that really the case? Can a child learn more separate from the very location where Christ meets His people to bestow His good gifts of Word and Sacrament? Is there a better way to memorize Scripture than singing it in the liturgy and hearing the Word of God proclaimed in the Scripture readings and the sermon? Faith comes by hearing at any age. This includes infants, young children, school-age children, teenagers, young adults, parents, the elderly, and everyone in between. Church is not a place where the family should be split up to meet "felt needs". Church is a place where the whole family of God gathers for all ages to meet the need of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain for the sins of all.

I have seen many parents get so flustered that their children are being loud in church. They apologize to everyone around them after the service that their children were such a distraction. I'm just grateful to see the children in church. Not because they are cute, (although some are just adorable!) but because it means that they are in a place where their vows at Baptism are fulfilled and the children are brought to the place where they will be nourished and fed in the Word. Just as we don't always understand how God to put faith in an infant at Baptism, we know He does because His Word does what it says it does. We don't know how the faith is growing in that young child, but we know the Divine Service is where the family of God is to gather to strengthen the faith, and that faith is strengthened with the young child, whether we visibly see it or not.