Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Monotonous or Sacred?

Someone said a neat thing the other day which is probably obvious to most people, "Doing something all the time - says it's important." (not an exact quote) but it made me stop and think about children and worship.

A recent article (http://www.covchurch.org/cov/companion/index.html) in the August 2005 Covenant Companion, (magazine of the Evangelical Covenant Church) by D. Brent Laytham supports the inclusion of children in worship. He uses the terms an "ordinary" (an act of worship that "repeats week after week") and a "proper" ("an act of worship that is unique to a given Sunday."). His point is that repetition and rote give you the freedom to participate, praise, and ponder what you're expressing to God or about God and special elements become more meaningful.

When everything is always changing, always new, "special" loses its meaning. A routine is a routine because it's important. Special elements become important when they add meaning. (Eccl. 3:1) There comes a time when special becomes routine and loses something.

In Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey, Catherine Stonehouse writes: "When people no longer love God with their whole heart, religious observances with the greatest of potential become only hollow rituals, and the integrity of life and word is gone, draining events of their power to communicate the faith. (p. 32) In the preceding pages she shows how Israel's community feasts and customs, were multisensory visual events that raised questions and communicated faith, especially to children. Such celebrations are surely more vibrant in communities of passionate believers. These were special events that broke the monotony of life. They broke the daily routine yet were special parts of a yearly routine. She implies that the integrity and passion of the believing community give both routine events and special events their power.

I've watched two generations break with traditional routines of church. Probably not because the elements of worship weren't important but because "the power of God-filled lives communicating faith"was lost somewhere. In one generation, duty & tradition in the face of cultural changes weren't enough to impart or sustain faith in the next generation. I think if we'd found spontaneity and variety to be more effective post-moderns would not be creating a new generation of Emerging churches.

So, on the practical side as we look at including children in our worship time (focusing on God and what will please Him) what's important enough to do the same way every week? What elements are more important as special elements that break the routine? How much is for us to do and how much is for the Spirit of God to do? Most importantly, how can we always be a passionate, vibrant community of believers imparting and communicating faith?

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