By Alison Andreasen
What a crazy, wonderful thing to have the Creator of the universe come to live with His people! Advent gives us an opportunity to look forward to His coming and His coming again. This message is not lost on little ears.
Yet sometimes in this season of multiple church services a week, which my littles may or may not have attended while clad in jammies, I have wondered if they are paying attention. They look around at others in church. They spend the service looking through the hymnal finding words they know. They stare at the stained glass windows and ask about the “P” with the “X” on the altar cloth. And when they are done doing that, they tap their feet and dance to the music. If they aren’t listening to the pastor, are they learning about Christ at all?
Well, in short, the answer is yes. Yes, they are learning about Christ because the church is Christ’s!
The people all around them are Christ’s people. Some people are tall and some are short, some are young and some are old. Those sitting around us may even have heard this fact announced out loud, much to their amusement and to my chagrin. These various people are His children gathered together learning about God, receiving His gifts, and worshiping Him.
There comes a stage in childhood when children are keyed into words and notice them everywhere they go. How fitting it is that the God who created the world WITH WORDS allows us to learn about Him and worship Him with words. Your children are intrigued by God’s words and enjoy flipping through the hymnal finding all the times they see “Jesus” or circling all the new letters they know on the bulletin? Great! After all, Christ himself is THE Word incarnate!
Stained glass windows, church artwork, and symbols have been around for centuries. Historically, they have been maintained for the very important purpose of educating parishioners who don’t know how to read. The artwork and symbolism in church often draws children in because it was intended to! Through artwork, your children learn about Jesus.
How about that foot tapping? If it is distracting to other believers, then yes, it should probably stop, but to see a child finding enjoyment in the songs of the angels and God’s people throughout history is a delightful thing! Through music, children learn God’s songs--words from God himself, and confessions of His created beings directed towards him. We have the opportunity to sing with the angels, archangels, and all the company of Heaven the words they have sung and will sing for eternity. Our children most definitely learn about Christ in the music.
So as you sit in service after service with your children this Advent, be assured that they are learning about Christ whether it be through the people that call upon Him, the artwork that teaches about Him, or the words that tell about him. While these things may not be Christ’s salvific work on the cross per se, they point to it. No matter how squirrely our kids are in church, we can delight in the work God does through those means to educate our children in the faith.
Alison is a wife of one, mother of three, and teacher of many. She lives in rural South Dakota where she enjoys life on the prairie as a dual parish pastor’s wife. A trained Lutheran school teacher and homeschooling mom, she has a passion for children’s education, especially education in the Christian faith. She is a brainstormer by nature and those who are close to her never know what new idea she will think of next. Recent adventures with her family have included tapping trees to make syrup; creating, expanding, and selling her own granola business; and learning to preserve fresh garden goodness for year-round use.