This year’s gathering promises to be better than ever, with all-star speakers, a collaborative Common Space session, and time to reflect with and be renewed by like-minded, forward-thinking children’s and youth ministry leaders.
Beth Barnett has written a beautiful post about how church communities imagine children and their role in congregations and the world. She outlines six images of children (proposed by Marcia Bunge) and then adds one of her own: the measure by which we assess our culture and community.
On the whole, our so called church ‘communities’ are configured around the base unit of the individual human.
Children remind us that this vision of human is a falsity: we are unable to live individually, and our pretensions to do so distort and impoverish us. The call of the gospel is to relationship, community, to serving others. The gospel liberates us to live other-oriented lives in the primary and inaugurated template of the crucified Christ.
How we understand and practice faith with children says a lot about who we are as people of faith. What do your understandings and practices say about you? What our congregational understandings and practices say about us?
The lectionary readings for today include the narrative of the apostle Thomas in disbelief about the Resurrection of Jesus.
An excerpt from Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus:
But remember that doubt is part of faith. Being a faithful follower of Jesus means having doubts. The story of “doubting” Thomas is often used to scare children away from having doubts and second thoughts, but a closer look at it reveals that Jesus is willing to accept us with all our questions and doubts. He takes the time to meet Thomas where he is and to help him wrestle with his disbelief (Jn 20:26-29). After all, the Gospels show us that Jesus in his full humanity had a faith that made room for doubt (Lk 22:41-44).
A beautiful prayer by Amy Butler, which she delivered at this year’s White House Easter Prayer Breakfast:
Loving and gracious God, we come here today with gratitude for your way of love, a love that death could not destroy and a tomb could not contain. With that acknowledgment, we also confess that we struggle with the brokenness of our world and the responsibilities we bear.
You came to proclaim Good News to the poor, but too many of your children go sleep with empty stomachs on cold streets. You came to give sight to the blind, but time and again we fail to see you in the faces of our neighbors.
We are Easter people, but so often we live in the reality of crucifixion, just shy of resurrection. Grant us the wisdom, courage, and strength to live as resurrection people, not conformed to the realities of this world, but determined to transform it as agents of your justice, healing, and love.