With the children gathered around her at the front of the sanctuary, ‘Rev. Liv’ quoted the Shema, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…”. She went on to explain that one way the Israelites remembered these words was to write them on tiny scrolls and put them on their door posts so that when they went out and when they came in they remembered God’s words. She showed them a picture of a Mezuzah. The children were invited then to an area on the left front floor area of the church where materials had been set up for them to make their own Mezuzah. Pastor Liv released them to this area in the sanctuary with a gentle reminder that in this place of worship we talk to God, and we also listen to God. Others in the church will be listening to God now so she instructed them to do their work on their Mezuzah quietly.
A few adults joined the children on the floor, and Pastor Olivia Stewart walked to the pulpit of Central Reformed Church to read the scripture lesson from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and deliver the message to the congregation. The children joined their families later in the service after they had finished their work and in time to celebrate the feast of the Lord’s Supper together.
It was a beautiful thing to observe. It is not the usual practice at Central Reformed Church to keep the kids in the sanctuary. Normally they are dismissed to their worship centers just before the message. But on this August Sunday morning when she was preaching, ‘Pastor Liv’, as she is affectionately known by the children and people of Central Reformed, wanted to keep the kids in the sanctuary. And so as she preached God’s words from Deuteronomy 6 instructing parents, families, and the faith community to pass on the words and stories of God, the children were also present.
Rev. Olivia Stewart is Director of Children’s Discipleship at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and director of Young Children and Worship. She continues to share Young Children and Worship with leaders and trainers around the world.