For those of you out there who are interested in creative liturgy, do you know about Roddy Hamilton and his wonderful blog? There is a Scottish/Iona kind of theme going on with all sorts of great ideas for visuals and all age services. You can download Spill the Beans free which gives ideas for Lent Year A for those struggling with small numbers of young people and trying to create an All Age service. And if you look in the right column you will find a way to subscribe to monthly Mucky Paws which is full of creative ideas.
Thank you Roddy – and for not charging for this great resource!
We don’t have a lot of children here at Christ Church. We would like to have some more but for now we rejoice in our teenagers and welcome any little grandchildren when they come along to visit. I think when I first came here the thing that people wanted most was more children. As Morag Buxel, the Diocesan Youth Officer, famously said at last year’s Synod, “If you want more children in church, it is up to you. Procreate!” That didn’t go down terribly well with our Vestry, not many of them being of child-bearing age! At Christmass we did put on a Christingle Crib Service and there was a good number of grandchildren and other youngsters who came along. This gave us the confidence to try a monthly All Age Eucharist, the first of which was on Sunday.
The liturgy I used was
cobbled put together carefully when I was at St Mark’s Portobello (with the approval of our beloved Bishop) and is simple and easy to understand. (In fact, one adult said to me that if we used that Creed every Sunday she’d be a lot happier and could actually join in!) All good, so far. But the thing that causes me most angst is the sermon. It can take me days to write something creative and memorable – and I know I don’t always get it right. In fact, I’m sure they are often remembered for what went wrong rather than the message I was trying to put across. It is agony for me. Agony, I tell you. Then I came across this quote by M Craig Barnes from The Pastor as Minor Poet:
No one in the sanctuary should be more excited about the Sunday sermon than the person in the pulpit… If the preacher isn’t thrilled by the sermon, why should anyone in the pews care about it?.. The unspoken secret to great preaching is that no one should enjoy the sermon more than the preacher.
OK, so I’ve got a bit of work to do there then!
But the great success of Sunday’s service was the last song by Fischy Music. I know that many adults are too embarrassed or reluctant to join in the actions with some choruses, but somehow Fischy have got it just right by using Sign Language. So we all sang along heartily to God Knows Everything and everyone left with a huge smile on their face. And, as a bonus, I’ve learned that some of our young people already know Fischy Music from school so I may well be getting them up to teach them in future.
And before we know it, we will have all the children up at the altar with candlesticks, crosses and thuribles. Well, that’s my hope anyway.
Today the three young people from St Mark’s who went to Glen10 this year took our All Age Service and it was absolutely amazing. I know they were nervous beforehand but they spoke clearly and beautifully.
The Confession had us watching bubbles floating around the church and as ‘our’ one popped we had to imagine all our sins taken away. We said a new Creed together. They re-enacted the gospel story and had us all up raving (some more than others, it has to be said). In fact, I’m not sure that we raved at all, but a bit of bopping went on. Then at the Offertory we all put a little red heart into the basket to symbolise our own offering.
I got to do the Eucharistic Prayer but they joined me behind the altar and did the same hand movements as me, and then they distributed the Body and Blood of Christ. At the end we used +Mark’s favourite celtic blessing (Deep Peace) and sang Shine Jesus Shine with a bit more bopping going on.
They did so well and I was really proud of them. In fact, I reckon young people should do all our Family/All Age Services from now on…