A friend asked me to explain what I meant by equipping for ministry for children. I’ll sum it up in a conversation I had on Sunday. Meeting for worship had just ended. We’d had the notices, including reports from the children about their understanding of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 1:13 – envy, boastful, selfish, truth, kind…I stood holding the door, trying to place the wooden doorstop with the outside of my foot, talking to Anna, convenor of children’s committee. ‘I thought the children were great today. I really did.’ I said to her. ‘I didn’t go with them. Alan took them.’ ‘You mean you stayed in meeting? Really? That’s brilliant!’ This was the first time, I thought, she hadn’t been first or second adult with the children in ages. ‘That line in Paul about putting away childish ways really gets to me’ she said. ‘I have so much baggage that gets in the way. The children just get it.’
‘A direct relationship with God, you mean…that’s why we’re Quakers..? They just do it. It’s simple for them and that’s why I offer to take the children. It’s a way of connecting for me in the simplest way with God.’
I wondered what had happened to the door. It had stopped wanting to close. I looked down and saw I’d flicked the doorstop straight under the door with the outside of my shoe and it had stuck. That’s never happened before either.
During meeting, another friend had read aloud unprompted from Advices and Queries 19. It’s all there, listening to each word, plump with life, dancing like cooking apples and pears on the trees.
We heard our children today. They came back into a simply, lovingly, gathered meeting and joined in the final minutes of worship.
We heard our children too later, outside in the peace garden, where we held a 30 minute meeting for worship for Peace One Day. Three of our youngest children, safeguarded by an adult, asked passers-by if they would like a leaflet. As far as I could tell, all but one took one cheerfully.
And we sing.
We heard our children today…and they heard us.
‘Does that answer your question?’, I ask my friend.
Further reading and exploration:
Quaker Faith and Practice, 2.76
Advices and Queries, http://qfp.quaker.org.uk/chapter/1/
Journeys in the Spirit, inward outward upward downward, resources for working with children, available from http://www.quaker.org.uk/journeyschildren
Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Well-Being by Margaret Crompton, Pendle Hill Pamphlet 419
The Worship Kit A Young Person’s Guide to Quaker Worship by John Lampen, Quaker Books