I found it hard to hold back tears of joy as I had the privilege of imposing those ashes onto those beautiful young faces and upon those who are now preparing for Easter yet once more as they have for over 80 years. With that many children in the service, I had very much simplified the liturgy, but still sought to give the essentials of this season. Parents told me afterward that their children appeared to grasp the essence of the time and learned much and the more experienced adults did not seem to mind.
When I gave the invitation to come forward, I asked them to come, not by rows, but as God led them to come. Within seconds, two children sitting in the back rose from their seats, and led the procession. Their mother followed, and then, as the Spirit of God hovered over the room, the rest came up.
Later, we prayed together the Lord's Prayer. The voice one of our smallest children, a not-quite three year old, who has been learning that prayer this year in our Children's Day Out program, rose over the voices of the rest of us, as he enthusiastically recited that prayer from memory.
This is what we are about--passing on the faith to the next generation, as they shape the church to come. We disciple them, love them, teach them, encourage them, correct them, and love them sacrificially so they can do the same, yet with their own personalities and culture stamped on the churches they will create.
Thanks be to God.