The Work of Children

26 May

Today is Trinity Sunday.

In church, they set apart this Sunday to acknowledge the mystery of Who God is as the Three-in-One.

The kids were sent off during the service in order to go outdoors and to look for examples of three-in-one. The most common find was clover: three leaves, but just one plant.

When the children came back in and reported what they had found, the priest was excited and he offered a prayer of thanks for the work that the children had done this morning.

That caught my attention.

Kids playing in the church’s garden looking for symbols of the character and nature of God is work. We often times call it “Sunday School,” but this priest seemed to view it as the kids at the office: doing their work to explore who God is.

How often do we consider our work to be about seeking understanding of the reality of God? How often do we view our work as looking at the world through intentional eyes to see where He is revealing His mystery to us? How often do we invest and exert ourselves on Sunday morning in order to arrive at a meaningful encounter with Truth?

The priest could see all of this in the morning’s activity for the kids. Why does it seem so hard for us to view our own involvement similarly? We have branded Sunday as a day of rest; the idea of doing work–even (especially?) spiritual work–is something that we might write off out of habit alone.

But the priest saw that these children, and their volunteer leaders, had come to accomplish something: they had come to learn, to grow, to see, and to seek…and their labors were acknowledged and praised before the whole congregation.

If that is the work of children, is our work any different? Rather than having mastered the tasks that they are about, we adults rather too often seem to ignore, overlook, or neglect this work.

The word “liturgy”–as in the order of service, readings, etc. that often make up a church worship service–literally means “the work of the people.” Sunday is a time to gather and work. How many of us see it that way? How many of us come and expect to exert ourselves, to labor, to engage actively and intentionally in the words and songs, the standings and sittings, the ritual and relationships?

The work of the children this morning was inspiring to me. Perhaps even more so, the priest’s response to their activity has challenged my perspective. Viewed this way, what is my work? What should it be? And what is the “work” that I am actually doing?

I’ve often heard it said that prayer is work. Perhaps children, and this priest, understand this far better than most of us.

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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Life, Prayer


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