May 6, 2013
Like many churches Mt. Vernon Church has a children’s sermon most Sundays. Frankly I have gone back and forth over the years regarding the necessity, value, relevance and appropriateness of a children’s sermon. I mean I find it difficult to believe that the kids really get much out of it. And it seems that the “cuteness factor” is more important to many than any sense of worship. Not that cute isn’t good, I just wonder how it enhances the worship experience.
It does make me wonder how kids think of God. One of our children asked a question this week that was really great. My daughter Alissa was doing the children sermon and one of the young ones asked, “Was God ever a kid?” Wow! I like that. To the degree that Jesus was a child at one time the answer is “Yes, God was a kid at one time.”
But I think about my understanding of God when I was young. I spent little time thinking about those sorts of things. But when I did I envisioned God as a white robed old man who was aloof and outside of my experience. Well at least outside of my experience until I did something really bad, then he was just mad at me. It amazes me how my thoughts about God paralleled the most significant adults in my life. Again, emotionally aloof until I did something wrong.
And it’s fair to say that I brought that God into my adult experience as well. God was always there, but particularly when I displeased Him. The notion of a loving God was something that I could articulate, but only because I misunderstood what love was. Again, love was almost always associated with discipline. I.e. we discipline those we love. There is certainly truth to that. If we want to love our kids we must discipline them. But love goes way beyond discipline! Tragically, the notion of being gentle, kind, and vulnerable to those we love is not something that many adults practice. It was certainly not something that I saw when I was younger.
Those of us who call ourselves Christian do in fact model God to those younger than us (whether we like it or not). I wonder what sort of God you model? Do young ones in your purview see a loving adult who cares for them and practices a kind of love that is unconditional? Or are you one of those “conditional lovers?” I.e., I will certainly love you… as long as you do what I say. Truthfully there are many who practice that sort of affection who have no idea! How tragic that is!
Back to the children sermon… We will continue to have one but not for the reason some might think. I like the notion that there is time in the service set aside just for the kids. Frankly, the rest of the worship time is not designed for them and they find it mind numbingly boring! I want them to know that they are important to us/me and we care about them…. whether they understand what we are saying or not.