In a recent Still Speaking Daily Devotion (sign up at www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit/daily-devotional), Martin Copenhaver wrote of realizing he had to tell his daughter who the Beatles were; and of remembering that he, and each of us, must tell the children in our lives who Jesus is. Neither the songs of the Beatles nor the story of Jesus are simply passed on genetically. “The Christian faith is always just one generation from extinction.”
When our son was four, he decided he was big enough to be by himself in a pew for Maundy Thursday worship. He sat on the aisle side of his pew and a favorite church grandma sat at the opposite end. Quiet and wide-eyed, he added eight pew scoots to the Order for Tenebrae. Each time the sanctuary lights grew dimmer and the altar barer, Noah slid toward Mary. Until at the loud bang and the moments of complete darkness he had scooted right up into her lap.
At Good Friday worship, Noah would add his boy hands to big, strong hands and soft, aging hands as worshippers carried a large cross up the long sledding hill at our beautiful county park. It must have seemed like a mountain to him when he was small.
Palm branches. Hosannas! Candles. A loaf of flat bread. The bitter herbs of a Passover meal. Darkness. Sad songs. A cross to carry. Nails to hold. Silence. A growling tummy from fasting. Pews that are empty and then overflowing. Flowers. New clothes. Alleluias! Each sensation teaches. Each prompts wonder. And the questions draw us grown-ups to deep places in our own faith as we offer our halting witness in the midst of the “why’s”.
These are good days to begin inviting the young ones you know to each of your congregation’s Holy Week services. Not just to Palm Sunday and Easter, but to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and a Saturday Easter Vigil service if you are fortunate to have one.
These are good days to attend closely to the holy work of telling the story of Jesus to those who need to hear it from us.
I’ll watch this space to read experiences of Holy Week worship you had as a child. And experiences you’ve had in passing on the story of Jesus to one who did not grow up listening to your songs.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister for Eastern Iowa