Today’s post is by Jennifer Shimota Krushas, Pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in High Point, North Carolina.
During the Sunday school hour each Easter morning, our “kids” (tiny toddlers to young adults home from college) gather in the prayer chapel to bring the pulpit Bible and paschal candle back to their rightful places in the chancel area of our worship space. They had both been moved to the prayer chapel on Good Friday evening, lying there, entombed in that small room, until Easter morning when we gather there to tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection. We light the candle and one young acolyte leads our procession while a young Bible bearer carries the pulpit Bible.
Our shouts of “Alleluia!” fill the nave as we make our way to where the Bible and candle belong. I hold my breath each year as the child bearing the lit paschal candle carefully leads us. Visions of them tripping or tilting the candle seem to overcome me for those thirty incredibly long seconds. And every single year, the young acolyte is laser-focused on the task, honored to be leading the way, and nothing bad ever happens (besides my worrying distracting me from the beauty). Part of the reason nothing bad ever happens is because the bigger kids stay close, encouraging and guiding our little leader.
This year, after our procession was over, I gathered them around to talk about the three short statements we call the mystery of faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. I wanted them to know why we use these words in the eucharistic prayer and to be ready to shout them when we got to that part of the prayer in worship that day.
Since it wasn’t printed in the worship booklet, I asked our kids to help me teach it during worship at our “Time with the Children.” During the singing of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) the nine children who had held the signs while we had taught it came silently to stand in their places. When I said, “…we proclaim the mystery of our faith,” they held their signs high and the whole room erupted in the proclamation louder than I had ever heard it! The children stayed in their places as I finished the eucharistic prayer and we all prayed the Lord’s Prayer. Then, they returned to their seats and I invited the assembly to the table.
I worried because the Easter eucharist is the highest height of our holiest day of the church year. I didn’t want it to come across as though we were play-acting or being silly in the midst of the Eucharist. As it turned out, the Spirit was blowing and raised our voices to proclaim the mystery of our faith with a unity and beauty that out-shined our usual practice.