This time in Search and Call is difficult for many reasons but there is (at least) one perk to not currently serving a church – I get to visit other churches and experience worship from the pew.
This morning I visited a sister church in my denomination for the second time, since the last time I went there was a guest preacher. And for the second time I was very impressed by the Sacred Space they have created for children in their sanctuary. They have removed two pews from the front of the sanctuary, laid down an additional carpet, and outfitted it with art supplies of all kinds. During the core of worship, instead of sending the children out to Children’s Church, they gather in their sacred space with 1 or 2 adult volunteers, working quietly on an art project that connects with the scripture or theme of the day. Following the sermon, during the hymn of commitment, the children bring up their art projects and hang them on hooks on the communion table. The children are soaking up what worship is. They are actively participating in, and even more importantly, contributing, to worship.
There was another moment during the commitment hymn that will stick with me. A couple who had been active in the church (in fact, they were the guest worship leader/preacher during my previous visit) came forward to join. Their son, already comfortable going to the communion table to hang his craft project, went up and hid under the communion table while his parents affirmed their decision to join the church. I do not know if this was shyness or playfulness. Either way, all I could think was, that is the perfect place to take refuge, to find comfort, and to feel at home. When it was time to move on, my clergy colleague simply called the child and let him know if was time to go back to his seat with his parents.
In the Disciples of Christ we believe that the table is open to all, a place where all who seek Jesus can find him and where we are also challenged and called to go out into the world as disciples. Today I witnessed a child finding refuge in the table and experiencing a call from that place of comfort back into the world.
May we all have such an experience when we gather at the table for communion.
Communion table at SouthPark Christian Church Picture courtesy of http://southparkchristian.net