I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; I will be their God and they shall be my people… Jeremiah 31.33
On Valentines day, which was also the first Sunday of Lent this year (a convergence I happened to think was quite lovely… as if the faithful were being asked on the first Sunday of Lent to be God’s valentine), during the passing of the peace at our 11:15 service, a very young parishioner handed me a little heart she had made.
Yesterday, on the Second Sunday of Lent, I was the preacher for children’s chapel and I decided that I’d pass on the lovely gift I had received the week before.
Since the Stations of the Cross are hanging in Nourse Hall (where our Children’s Chapel takes place), at story time we gathered in a corner under the second station, an image of Jesus “bearing his own cross.” We talked together about how the image was born; how it evolved from a rather literal depiction of Jesus with a crossbeam strapped to his back, to the one it became – an image of Jesus carrying a human being. At one point I picked up a child and we mimicked the action taking place in the painting and then we talked about how each and every day, whether we know it or not, we are being carried by the love of God in Christ Jesus.
With the story in place I sat on the floor and took off my shoes and showed the children what would remain under my feet that day and what I’d find hidden in them when I took off my shoes that night before bedtime prayers: a reminder – just in case I had forgotten (as we often do) – that the love of God had carried me all day long. Then we passed out hearts to one and all – young and old – and we all put those heartfelt reminders in our shoes.
When story time was over we made our way into “big church” so the children and parents could witness the Rite 13 graduation ceremony (lovely!). A little later, as they do every Sunday at the 9:15 service, a few of our children carried their oblations to the altar. Libby led the procession, carrying the small wooden Children’s Chapel Cross. But here’s the thing: Libby is two years old. The Children’s Chapel Cross is small, but not to Libby. So two older children flanked her, each with a hand on that cross, helping Libby carry it. And under their feet… those little red hearts… Godly valentines. Oh if I had a camera at the ready!
On March 2 we will inaugurate First Wednesdays at St. Alban’s Church. First Wednesdays is a new program for us, one that in large part has been inspired two things: by the spirit and joy that pervades Children’s Chapel at St. Alban’s and the fact that if the primary icon for the New Testament weren’t the Cross of Christ it would be an image of Jesus at table with his friends.
First Wednesdays is an all – ages opportunity for but one thing – being together as a parish family. We will gather on the first Wednesday of every month from 6:15 – 7:15 to share a meal, free of cost, and each evening will be sponsored by a ministry of the parish. Our first sponsor is The Children’s Chapel Community. Mark your calendars and join us. Bring friends. Come and share the magic of walking together as a community bound by the love of God, with hearts under our feet!