Father Manny had a few thoughts about last week’s visit by the children’s dance troup of The Little Bulgarian School, about the infectious joy felt as they danced to lively Balkan music , and committing ourselves to teaching our children well. As he points out, they might have something to teach us.
As Liturgies go, I have found our weekly celebrations to be ever joyful. Whether it be during the “interior” and “preparational” seasons of Advent and Lent, the festive seasons of Christmas and Easter or in the time we refer to as Sundays after Pentecost when the clergy garb is green, there is a vitality and spirit that permeates and is divinely infectious. I feel, well, joyful when we celebrate; when we lift our voices and hearts in prayer, in song, when we break bread and pour the juice that comes from the fruit of the vine…there dwells within me a happiness that is hard to explain, yet should be easily recognized by the smile on my face and should be a sure give-away of the true joy that is alive and well. Certainly, it is my deepest hope that the joy I feel is shared and experienced by every person who worships with us within the sacred walls of our community of St. Nicholas.
Last Sunday, we were blessed with special visitors: our sisters and brothers of the Little Bulgarian School. They treated us to wonderful ethnic music and lively and lovely dance. Their youthful and beautiful faces, colorful costumes and electric energy made this humble spectator giddy with happiness and glee. Jesus requested that the children come to him: we took His lead and the children came to us. And we are all the richer for their visit.
Our children are the face of our church and the future of our faith community. They are to be a constant reminder of the immense gift they are to us all. Their innocence is a blessing in the midst of such negativity and a world darkened and stained by war, violence and sin. Yet, and in spite of humankind, our world still is a beautiful place. Our children will be entrusted to care for it in spite of the careless treatment the world is often shown.
It is important and essential that we have a program and activities for our young ones. We must provide religious formation in an enjoyable and informative manner; a program that is theirs and only theirs. We have some very dedicated and determined members working very hard to create just such a program. Val Gruenwald, Jan Tossman and John Knepper have done their homework, burned some midnight oil and prayerfully are piecing together a program that will provide for our children. God bless these wonderful people and all of our family members who in the past have been involved in creating, organizing and teaching our children…a great amount of blessings and credit to a great many caring, loving and concerned parish family members.
We ask our parents and grandparents and all our members to be mindful of the schedule for our Children’s Program: each 1st Sunday of the month will be both Children’s Liturgy and Celebration Sunday. We hope that our children will read the Scripture passages, bring forward to the altar the gifts of bread, wine and donations to the food pantry. They will be invited to remain around the altar, if they so wish. And if they are willing and desiring, they will be invited to share in the role of chalice bearer at Holy Communion. The 3rd Sunday of the month, the children will be read the Gospel in wording that is better suited for them. They will rejoin the community and are invited to put their creative energies to work with religious material that challenges, entertains and allows them to put their artistic talents to good use. The other Sundays of the month, the children are welcome to stay at the Sharing Table in the rear of the worship space and work, together, in playful prayer. They have their own space, yet they remain with us, safe and secure.
“Let the children come to me…” Jesus still speaks these words and we must respond. In true St. Nicholas fashion, we will make it happen, in a spirit of love, grace and always for the greater glory of God and the love for our children.