A Bible Reading: Matthew 18. 1 - 6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
A Thought Last week in Walgrave we had a school visit to church. Twenty-one youngsters excitedly sat in the choir stalls to learn a bit more about the church, its monastic roots and how we worship today. They studied ‘commitment’ in RE last half term and now they are looking at Judaism. These topics tied in quite nicely with the afternoon’s activities.
The children learnt about the church’s monastic roots and the sort of things that monks did in church, learning a bit of plainsong to start the afternoon off. The children were then divided into four groups.
One group by the pulpit learnt about the power of words to hurt or to build up. Hurtful words were written down and shredded, so that they had no power to hurt any more. Each child then decided what they would like to say to the others from the pulpit as a word of encouragement.
One group gathered around the font to learn about baptism, making promises and belonging to God’s family. The children had fun choosing to be parents and godparents of the ‘baby’, a life-sized doll who was then duly baptised.
In St Peter’s, we are fortunate to have a copy of a ‘Black Letter’ bible from 1611, one of the early bibles printed in English. The pages still include some decorated capital letters in the style of Medieval illuminated manuscripts. A third group of children tried their hand at illuminated letters, either colouring letters prepared earlier or designing their own.
The final group gathered around the communion table to learn about the Jewish Passover meal, the Last Supper and Holy Communion. The story of the Exodus was retold through the symbolic foods of the Seder meal. We learnt that Jesus was a Jew and his last meal with his disciples would have been the Passover meal. This was the meal at which he first took bread and wine and told his disciples to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. The children then shared bread and juice together.
The afternoon was well worth the effort. Jesus wants us to welcome and encourage our children. It was a delight to see them so actively engaged and eager to learn, a lesson to all of us to come to God with a childlike humility, curiosity and eagerness. There is always more to learn if we want to know God better.
A Prayer (from Psalm 90.12)
Dear Lord, teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.