March 18

posted Mar 15, 2012, 10:23 AM by Todd Randolph   [ updated Mar 15, 2012, 10:35 AM by in apropos ]
Nursery Care is available from 9:30 A.M - 12:30 PM
upstairs next to Godly Play Room.

Nursery 9:30 (NO Junior Choir this week);
Children’s Chapel 10:15;
Youth Education 10:30
Godly Play: The Faces of Christ
Firelight: Eucharist – working on a play
Middle School – Lent Madness (google if you want to know more!)

At the beginning of Lent I began a new subject of study with the Firelight students, something that is central to our lives as Christians: Eucharist. One of the ways we can observe Lent is to take on something that brings us closer to God. I felt that here at Grace there was a great opportunity to connect the children better with what was going on in worship for the time that they came from church school. As a staff, we had talked about finding silence in worship during Lent, and I believed that a more engaged congregation would be a quieter congregation; I hope you might have noticed that in the last two weeks.

First we learned about the two halves of the service. First is the Service of the Word, where the lessons are read, the preacher helps the congregation understand the scriptures, and makes them applicable to our lives, and we pray, through the confession and the prayers of the people.  During this time the children are at Church School, also learning the word of God in more age-appropriate ways.

Next comes the Service of the Table, the Eucharist (also known as the Lord’s Supper, and Communion. Did you know that in the earliest days of Christianity, people who wanted to become Christians, known as Catechumens, did not attend the Service of the Table until they had been baptized? So they would attend only the Service of the Table until their joyful Baptism on Easter Eve, when they would receive the bread and wine for the first time.  
I have prepared a service bulletin especially for the children, and in Church School we have been reading the words of the service, making sure we understand their meaning, and working on learning by heart the final prayer, the Post Communion Prayer, which begins

       “Eternal God, Heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted
         us  as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ…”

I love this prayer because it reminds us that communion isn't just a meal, just a celebration. It is what makes us Christians, what makes us one with Christ, and if we are one with Christ, then we must go out and do the work we have been asked to do, of loving and serving without counting the cost.  Sometimes it is really hard to do that work, and so we are reminded that it is God that gives us the strength and courage to do this work. 
Holy Week is just a few weeks away, and we have decided to follow through on the theme of Eucharist by offering a Maundy Thursday service for families, and for those who might like a more informal service.  This will be followed by a simple meal.  I would welcome volunteers who might like to take part in the service, and also someone who could provide child-friendly food, such as macaroni and cheese, for the children.

And finally, special thanks to Susan Keefe and Regina Raz, who are giving up their Saturday this weekend, and on two more Saturdays in April and May, to complete the three day training for Godly Play, the excellent Montessori-based curriculum used with our youngest members of Grace Church.  We are so grateful for their willingness to give up this time to learn, and to bring the fruit of this learning to our children.