Friday, October 15, 2010

Try This! The Altar

In my last post, I talked about the Altar I presentation the children see, beginning at age three.  Knowing more about the presentations we show the children can help you bring your child's atrium experience into Church! One of my goals for the blog is to highlight things that you can do to support your child's work in the atrium.  I'm going to use the heading "Try This" on posts that have suggestions for parents, so you know just what I am up to!  :-)

You can easily incorporate this altar work into conversations with your children.  When my children were little, I often leaned over during worship to whisper a comment or question in their ear. (Actually I still do - it just sounds a little different with my teenagers!)  Try something like this:
  • "Look, Rev. Peter is lifting up the chalice."
  • "There is the paten.  Can you see the bread on it?"
  • "Can you see the cross?  The cross always reminds me of Jesus."
  • "Aren't the candles beautiful today?"
  • "It's almost time for us to go and have the bread and wine!  That makes me feel so close to Jesus."
With this, the goal is not to test the child's knowledge, but to give you and your child the chance to talk about things already learned. Offer help as you go along. For example, if you mention the chalice Rev. Peter is holding, and your child looks at you blankly, say something like, "Yes, there is the chalice - the special cup that holds the wine."
    My feeling is you don't want to overdo this. Badgering you child with questions and comments will become irritating!  Several well placed comments a service seems about right. But small moments like these help children to make connections between atrium and Church, and will make their worship experience more meaningful!

    Be sure to use the Church Search I flyer (which is available with the children's activities in the back of the Church). It has pictures of the objects on the altar, and invites the children to check them off when they see them during worship.

    What ideas do you have for sharing Altar I with your child?  Try something, then come back and comment to let us know how it went!


    1. I remember you asking those questions and what was great about it was that I learned something too. (Being someone who did not know this as a adult - I found it to be quite helpful).

      I have also asked - "what is happening now"? (because I really didn't know - ) and they would inevitably come up with the answer. I particularly remember how Rev. Peter blesses the bread and wine with his hands and breaks the bread in a big circular motion. My children were able to let me know the origins and reasons for this.

      Thanks for sharing and prompting.

    2. i usually feel like i am doing damage control with my small children during the service (they fight over crayons, they wander around, they would rather color than pay attention - all understandable to some degree given their ages and the fact that i have three children. (we're outnumbered!) i love the idea of asking them questions during the liturgy though. maybe i should take them one at a time to church for a little while. the baby is still too little to be able to focus, but maybe i could even take my middle to the 1st service and my oldest to the second service (with sunday school sandwiched in between...) thanks for your reminder to be mindful, leslie!

    3. Toni-- you aren't alone! It is so hard to be attentive to the service yourself when you are caring for not so small children! I know that you know, but it will get easier as they get older! I love the fact that the beautiful words from the prayer book are swirling around in their young absorbent minds! On Sunday, I was sitting next to my 14 year old and I was so pleased to hear him saying the prayers by heart. Keep looking for openings to observe and enjoy worship together! I know you are doing an wonderful job!


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