From Our Director of Education For Children and Youth
In Christian texts, there are stories in which children try to come to Jesus and adults try to get them to go away. The message they convey is, “This is an adult thing. Go away and stop bothering us.” But Jesus says, “let the children come to me.” In fact, he tells adults that the Kingdom belongs to children and those who are like children. Even for Unitarian Universalists who are not Christian, I think there is something to appreciate in a story that reminds us that children should have a central place in religious community.
On Sunday, December 12th, children and youth will again begin to regularly attend the first part of Sunday services in the fellowship hall. The reason for the timing is that by that point, all children over the age of five will have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.
I want to acknowledge how important this date is. Families have waited a long time for this. We have all waited a long time for this. It is not likely that there will be a large number of children and youth. For many reasons, children and youth will be making a slow return to in-person activities. But there will be children and youth present, and this will be a milestone for them, and for all of us, as a congregation.
Aside from the joy of reuniting together as a community of all ages, in person, having children and youth in the fellowship hall for service is good religious education for all of us. For example, children and youth learn to create a space for reflection in their lives by being part of a community that prioritizes reflective time. Likewise, adults often get back in touch with the needs of their hearts and bodies when present with children. We learn to repress much awareness regarding our hearts and bodies in adulthood, and being around children can help us become more fully embodied again, more present and alert. It is a spiritual practice.
We will come up with some ways to together express our enthusiasm for having the children in the service without showering them with an overwhelming amount of attention. I would like to ask for your help as well in welcoming children simply by making space for them, by re-acclimating to their movement and noise, and by being patient as we re-learn to be together as a multigenerational community again. It will take practice for all of us, and it will be worth it. After all, at least one great teacher has said that the Kingdom belongs to children.