From the Pastors' Desk
From Emily Harkins, Director of Youth & Family . . .
When I was young, though we tried our best, it wasn't always easy to make it to church as a family. It wasn't that we didn't want to be there, it just didn't always work out. However, after I got over the initial fear of church, (I used to think Chil-dren's Choir was a punishment) I figured out that church was a place that I be-longed. It was a place of peace. A place of comfort. A place of relationships and wisdom, and a place of love. How could I not want to spend all my time there!? As my desire to be at church grew, I would throw a fit if I didn't make it there on Sun-day. One time, as a form of punishment for hosting a friendly gathering while my parents were out of town, they had to bring out the big guns and ground me from church. I couldn't get enough. I loved it!
But the reason I loved it wasn't because of my peer group that was there. Yes, many of them are still great friends today and they were an important part of the draw. But it was the adults that cared about me at church that made me want to be there: my Lent prayer partners; my Confirmation small group leaders; my Sunday school teachers; the ushers that let me count the money at the end of the service; the altar guild ladies that would invite me to help them clean up and then let me eat the left over bread; the older couples I would eat dinner with on Wednesday nights who taught me weird card tricks; the retired Pastor that I would flip pancakes with at the Easter Breakfast; the Sound Guy who let me play matchmaker and set him up with one of the single ladies at our church (who are now happily married with three kids); the parents of my friends who knew my name and cared enough to ask me about my day; or the random person who sent me a postcard when I took the time to write down a prayer request on my communion card.
The best part about it though was that most of them weren't intentionally doing it. By default of being present, they were playing their role.
When we hear the term "Family Ministry," we immediately think our own family units. Moms. Dads. Kids. Grandparents. Dogs. But it is more than that. There's a reason why the Apostle Paul addresses his letters as "Dear Brothers and Sisters." As a mem-ber of this faith community, through our baptisms, we have been formed into one fami-ly of God. One unit. As it is written in Romans, chapter 12: "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to the other." Essentially, we all have different gifts. None is more important than the other, one might seem like the short end of the stick, but when used together, we truly are living the example that Jesus taught us. Think about the last baptism that you were witness to. There is a part of the service that asks the congregation to make promises for the newly baptized. We are asked if we will support their walk in the faith; if we will place in their hands the holy scriptures; and if we will pray for the newly baptized and their fam-ilies. In response we all answer, "We will, and we ask God to help and guide us." If we want to do our part to rise against the growing trend of religious decline, we need to expand our definition of Family Ministry. It's time to realize that as One Family of God, we all have a divine responsibility for each other. So I challenge you, figure out your role. Decide what you can bring to the table to shape the lives of the family around you. Do you know a magic trick to share with a curious fourth grader? Can you teach a young mom what you did with your children 40 years ago to build faith in your home? Can you invite a high school student to join you at the table for coffee? Can you color a picture and deliver it to one of our members who doesn't make it to church often. Assess your gifts. Play your part. And trust that God has equipped you to further His kingdom with exactly the parts that you have.
In His Peace,
Director of Youth and Family