Suffer little children to come unto me (St Luke 18:15) was the text for one of my recent sermons because I wanted to share with the congregation my view that children should be encouraged to come to church and that they should be warmly welcomed by us all when they do.
I know that there are those among us those whose childhoods were dominated by the view that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ but modern childhood is not like that. Children nowadays are encouraged to ask questions and to explore in ways that they were discouraged from doing in times gone by. Sometimes this makes them a bit noisy in church but I welcome that, because it means they feel at home and are not overawed by the situation. Little children cry but that’s life and I welcome that too, because it means that the parents who brought them feel at home and are not overawed by the situation, and this is how it should be.
When I came to Wormingford four years ago, there was no Family Service, only the services set out formally in our prayer-books. Realising that this offered little that, not only children, but also their young parents could relate to, I set about devising a service which would be accessible to everyone in the parish, young or old. This together with a children orientated talk forms the backbone of our Family Service which is held once a month at 11:00 am on the first Sunday of the Month. It is a service to which you all are welcome, young or old, quiet or noisy and whether you are Church of England or not.
St Andrew’s, St Peter & St Paul’s and St John the Baprtist are your parish churches and I want you to feel at home there. When you come to services I want you to feel welcomed, encouraged and uplifted.
I have often heard it said that ‘children are the church of the future’ but I would dispute that. We must all encourage children to be the church of the present because, if we don’t, there will be no church of the future and 850 years of services, prayers, hymns, psalms, communion, baptisms, weddings and funerals will be no more than an echo of the past.
Suffer little children to come unto me