Spring 2001
Volume 5 Number 3

moon.gif (372 bytes)end things


The text of the guest preacher’s sermon was the story of Noah’s Ark.

Early in the service, the pastor left the chancel and invited the children to meet him at the back of the sanctuary. He asked them if they remembered the story and which was their favorite animal. 

Then he asked them to follow him back up the aisle as though they were those animals. He was an elephant.


The children were awestruck as each was given a marshmallow, and, later, these same children squealed with delight when they were given a two-minute ride in an old Volkswagen. Known in times past as gypsies, these Roma children of eastern Europe were coming to know their benefactor, a Korean missionary sent there as a mission partner of the Presbyterian Church (USA).             

             



        
A little shy but obviously proud, the two children from a Presbyterian school held up the pictures they had made, pictures selected from hundreds submitted in the Year of the Child art contest. Afterward they explained with quiet satisfaction why they had each drawn what they did.

The girls and boys listened carefully as the leader explained to them what was going into each food bag and why each item was needed. One of the boys, on hearing the plight of the recipients, exclaimed,                
“That’s just not right.” Then they all lined up to put cans and boxes in the bags to be given to hungry people who lived nearby.

The minister came into the chancel, went to the pulpit to lay down his sermon, and paused, looking down at the pulpit Bible. There, laid out across the pages, was a medal with a red-white-and-blue ribbon attached. For a moment, he appeared startled and puzzled; and then he smiled. Looking up, he met the eyes of a girl sitting near the front with her family, who also looked puzzled. The minister held up the medal and told the congregation that the child they knew had won it at a special athletic event the day before, an event for those with mental and physical disabilities. As the congregation applauded, the girl glowed; she knew she could share it with this family.

The two young girls stood on the lower step of the newly made pulpit, listening as a young minister put the Scripture reading in context. He finished and stepped aside as they moved up to the top step. He moved behind them, removed his stole, and draped it around their shoulders. The eight thousand people at the opening worship service of the General Assembly seemed to hold their breath together as the girls read the Micah passage, and many listeners felt they were hearing “What does the Lord require of you?” for the first time.                 

   

           


        

          

The black, white, and brown faces of the children gave new meaning to the music they sang. Many of the children came from intact families with similar standards of living, and some were the children of few caring adults and of poor schools. Their music was well-rehearsed and understood and they were as one in their behavior and attitudes. They were proud and appropriately self-conscious as they stood before the congregation to which some of them belonged. They would feel the same in other contexts known better by the rest of them. One of their songs was “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ.” They all knew whose they were and why they were singing; they all knew they had gifts from the hand of God.
Jesus says, “ Let the children come”—and they will if they are welcomed. They will if they are spoken to and smiled at and known by their own names. They will if they are beginning to know that they have something to give as well as to receive. The church, the body of Christ, is the Jesus they know, the Jesus who welcomes them, the Jesus who cares about the circumstances of their lives and loves them always.

Freda A. Gardner is an elder, Christian educator (including on the Princeton faculty from 1961 to 1992), and moderator of the 211th General Assembly. During that year as moderator and before and after, in this and other countries, she met the children of many congregations and in many communities. She loves to tell their stories.

© Copyright 2001 Princeton Theological Seminary
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In This Issue

Features

A World of Students: Valuable Exchanges
Welcome Them in My Name
Fighting for Children and Parents

Departments

From the President's desk
Letters to the Editor
Outstanding in the Field
Class Notes
End Things
Student Life
On & Off Campus
Alumni/ae Update
Investing in Ministry
inSpire Staff
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