Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creation Stations in Our Sanctuaries

Over at Erik Ullestad's blog, he talks about approaches to children in church. Life has changed since those days when children were expected to sit still and be quiet. In this post, he writes, "The Creation Station is a set of tables in the back of the sanctuary where kids can color, cut, paste, and mold items based on the theme of the day. There are some coloring & activity pages (similar to a children's bulletin) that are available as well. During the offering portion of the service, kids bring their creation up front to the altar as their offering to God."

I can think of many adults who would like a Creation Station for the time when the service gets a little long. For some of us, it might be the sermon, while for others, it might be the time the choir sings. Some of us might be lucky enough to be in a big enough church where Communion takes awhile and our fingers itch for something to do.

Lutherans have always embraced some art forms, like music, while seemingly scorning others. But in more recent times, we've expanded our view of what arts are appropriate for church, both in terms of worship, in terms of building adornment, in terms of enriching our spirituality. I knew I was at a different place when I first started attending my new church, several years ago when it was new to me. Here and there, women knitted. Right there, in the middle of the service! They were working on prayer shawls while also participating in the service. I got my first glimpse that I might have found a good church fit.

Lots of churches have been experimenting with a variety of ways to integrate children into the service. There's the children's sermon. And of course, some churches choose not to integrate at all; they have Sunday School when worship is going on, which is both problematic and a problem solver. Some churches have activity bags for children.

I like the option described in Erik's blog posting because the children are working on art projects that tie into what's going on during the worship service. Even if it's something as simple as a picture to color, a picture that depicts what's going on in the readings, it ties into the service.

I also love the idea that children bring their creations forward during offering. What a great way to reinforce that our offering to God can be more than money. I love this more comprehensive view of offering. Our gifts are so vast, so much more than our earning potential.

I can think of adults who need to be reminded of that message. In fact, I would argue that in our culture here in the U.S., adults more than children need this reminder. We are more than our earning power!

My four year old nephew comes for a visit this week-end. I love spending time with him, because his joy in creation is still unpolluted. Like God in the first chapters of Genesis, he creates and claims it all as very good. He doesn't ball up his works when they don't match his vision for what he was trying to do. I don't even know if he has a vision. He's just so happy to have paint to swirl on his paper.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have this kind of child in their lives--another reason to bring Creation Stations into our churches--we'd give the word sanctuary a whole new dimension!

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