Children & Youth Ministry Update: October 2020

Jesus seemed keen on kingdom illustrations involving children and inviting children to come near. “Unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.” Mt 18:3. “…For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Mt. 19:14. We aren’t sure if Jesus was referencing an idolized innocent and eager child or if he was naming a disenfranchised population segment in a last shall be first kind-of-thing.  

Even as we figure out what Jesus meant, it’s safe to say that having children among us is part of how God sees his kingdom unfolding. We don’t champion an idolized, prototypical child;  at All Angels’ children are seen and heard. They’re messy, noisy, full of laughter and sometimes tears. We love finding ways children lead us

into worship. Erin Moughon-Smith is bringing her considerable talent as a drama teacher in NYC public schools to the pageant production this year.  We can’t have a live production with 200 of us squeezed into the sanctuary.  But children will tell the nativity story in their unique way, covid style: a Zoom pageant!

Stewardship season has rolled around. In this season we remind ourselves that the biblical basis for generous giving is not guided by a calculus of effective results except for the resulting impact on our own hearts.  Acts 20:35 reminds us of Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Matthew reminds us of Jesus’ caution (Mt 6:21) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  As Christians we are invited to participate in lavish generosity, a radical separation of right hand from left hand.

In children and youth ministries, we mobilize Jesus’ illustrations of children coming near. We create opportunities for young people to live their lives with God within the wider population. That ministry is supported through your generosity.  It might have been easier to give when ministry unfolded in plain sight (before we moved to password protected Zoom rooms): Eric leading children in song, saints’ banners paraded through the sanctuary, youth helping with community meals, Sunday School, youth retreats. And more.

The truth is, we don’t give in the spirit of short-range observable results. In God’s economy, the mandate for generosity is about how we, the givers, are changed.  It’s pleasant to see fruit of philanthropy. But that is not the point at all. We invest in the lives of young people without near term guarantees. We do it in faith. Like the act of giving changes the givers heart, ministry for children likely changes those who minister as much, perhaps more, than it changes the children being ministered to. And isn’t that the way it often is in God’s economy?

Come worship with us this Sunday, November 1, 10 AM on facebook livestream. We remember All Saints’ Day.  You are invited to submit, in advance,  names of living saints and departed souls for special commemoration here.

Author: Mary Ellen Lehmann

Director of Children & Youth Ministries at All Angels' Church in New York City. Mary Ellen and her husband, Mike, have been married 30 years, and have four children. Several of them are adults.

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