Last night around 100 volunteers gathered with children’s and youth ministries staff to train and prepare for the school year ahead. One hundred. That’s 100 people who are giving their time, their knowledge, their experience, and their hearts for the children and teens of our church. Pause here for a moment and linger over that fact.
What would you call that? A blessing? Ministry? Faithfulness? Joy? Service? Church? Or maybe all of the above?
Wednesday night’s gathering seemed an appropriate climax to a week that began Sunday morning with the Blessing of the Backpacks. Somewhere upwards of 160 children marched into the 9:30 and 11:00 services, backpacks in tow, for a moment of prayer and blessing. They also received crosses to clip onto their backpacks (some took extras for friends—and, yes, more are available if you missed out). At the close of all three services we also prayed for teachers, administrators, and other school workers. I didn’t count, but I was surprised by just how many of those saints were among us and ARE among us every week.
Yes, I think it’s safe to say that children are important to this church. In fact, I KNOW that to be true—absolutely beyond any doubt—because we said as much during our 11:00 service Sunday. Right after blessing all those backpack-bearing kids, we celebrated together the baptism of two-month-old Will Umberg, a fine young man who, based on his interest in my microphone, perhaps has a future in preaching. We spoke some words together during that service of baptism. Remember? We speak them for every child we baptize:
“With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ,” we said, “that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
That’s no small commitment. In fact, it takes all of us together to fulfill it. It takes those 100 volunteers who gathered last night. It takes our wonderful staff members who work, day in and day out, to create and build meaningful ministries. It takes the financial support of every member to make possible those ministries. And it takes your attention in small and quiet moments—your prayers, your example, your words of grace and greeting to the children of our church.
Yes, it was a pretty good week for children here at HMUMC, and the good times and blessings continue Sunday with the Kick-off Cookout and in moments large and small the week after that and after that and after that and … You get the point. The children are important to us, and they are gifts—amazing, beautiful, joyful gifts. And so, with God’s help, we order our lives after the example of Christ …