Our kids have sort of been blowing me away lately. Always. Of course. But lately, they have been breaking my heart in good ways. When Nate and I talked through Advent worship, we thought about an even simpler service than our regular worship. We wanted it to be a bit shorter to allow for ample time to transition to the post-worship meal at a host home. Which, on paper and in theory and in our heads, looked like it was true. In bulletin form, it was simpler. Streamlined. (Which is tricky because there isn't much fluff in that service to begin with). But then the first Sunday of Advent rolls around and our Humble kids were there en mass. The youths basically led the whole service. Not because we planned it that way--or because it Youth Sunday (every Sunday at Humble Walk is Youth Sunday). They led it because that's what they do. They filled the baptismal font with tea lights to set the theme from the Gospel of Mark's "Keep awake" message. They made the advent candle for the wreath. They created art in response to the Gospel (quietly, in their seats, while listening to the sermon). We know they were listening, because when we moved into the prayers of the people--they prayed for things directly connected to my sermon. Communion rolled around and they rushed up to serve and to receive. As is often the case, one child even abandoned her back-row sitting family to secure a seat in front. Closer to the action and the communion bread.
Do you know who is not efficient and streamlined? Kids. They will not be rushed. They don't give a rip about your plans for a shortened worship. Thank God. Because it's way better this way.
On Saturday, our fifth and sixth graders shopped and put together kits for Lutheran World Relief. They made 5 Personal Care Kits-and along the way, learned about situations where someone might need a kit. Those who experience natural disaster, or those fleeing violence and war. It's thrilling to witness their worldviews expanding before our very eyes--and to make the connections of a church at work far beyond this West End community. Why do we give offering? Well, because we are created with a need to give--and it reminds us that none of this belongs to us anyway. And our offering not only funds youth group outings, but a portion goes well beyond our border to places of great need. These connections are shaping who these kids are growing up to be. At the end of one of these conversations about LWR, one child said, "They do such good things. I want to work there when I grow up."
The second week of Advent had us asking questions about John the Baptizer. When I started talking about John, one 4-year-old turned to his mom and said, "I know that guy. He's in my book. He's hairy and eats bugs." Yeah right, mom thinks, like he would really eat bugs. Sure enough, that boy was right. John the Baptizer was totally hairy and ate bugs--so we all ate Bit O Honeys and organic, kosher, candy-coated locusts* as we thought about questions we had about John and his message. Score one for Spark Story Bibles and giving those books away like candy-coated locusts!
These kids are alright. Thank God they are leading us along the way.
*Yeah right. Like we would really eat bugs. They were candy-coated pecans from Trader Joe's. But whatever.