Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Children as evangelists

Like any parent or grandparent, I was delighted to learn that Rhiannon is going to be a Wise Man in this year's playgroup Nativity Play. It's a church based playgroup, and like church schools around the country, the story will be told, whether deemed politically correct by opinionated secularists or not. Their influence in the educational sphere is disturbingly high. Apparently four out of five schools no longer have a Nativity play or celebration. No wonder so many young people grow up ignorant of basic components of the cultural, let alone religious heritage of our country. This is what happens when the churches and Christians turn in on themselves, get pre-occupied with defending unreasonable or unjust positions, instead of renewing their understanding of the Gospel in the light what's happening in God's world today and applying that in practice. (End of rant)

At God on Mondays yesterday, a grandma present with her daughter and six year old grandson told me of the child's openly expressed concern about what's going to happen to God's house, now that it has been closed down for worship - referring to St James' next door. This youngster has been asking about this for months, preoccupied by the matter. He was carrying with him a crumpled news cutting with a picture of the church, and the news that it's now up for sale at a half a million price-tag. He doesn't want it to become shops or apartments. He wants to tell everyone he meets about his little worry. He's not old enough to understand just how helpless the local community has been to overcome its own indolence and inability to rise to the challenge of supporting their church building. Well maybe it takes half a lifetime to understand why. God's house is very important and special to a six year old, who is a lot closer to the angels than those who look after him.

Last night we had a grant concert for a full house at St Johns, raising funds for the local George Thomas Hospice. There were many outstanding moments, but the one that I'll mention here is the young eleven year old harpist who played so beautifully, and who introduced his own music so confidently, standing along side an instrument which dwarfed him in stature. Benjamin J Creighton-Griffiths, a seasoned charity fundraising performer for several years mentioned to his audience how pleased he was to be playing in the church where he was baptized. That was before my time. I hadn't met his family before, although his great uncle is my next door neighbour, so I was delighted to learn of this connection, and even more delighted that he chose to mention this in his self-introduction.

Like all the rest of the congregation, I too look forward to the tiny handful of children among our regular worshippers making their contribution to the Eucharist on the Sunday before Christmas with their own presentation of the Nativity. Their freshness is a reminder that the story is indeed Good News, not Good Olds.

But how can I reassure that worried little six year old with his crumpled news cutting?

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