As a Christian Educator, I am always on the lookout for engaging ideas for Children’s Messages during worship. In addition, as a person who cares deeply about the safety and well being of all children and the adults in their lives, it is important to help everyone make these very important connections to giving and receiving as people of faith. Recently, I was able to do just this very thing during the month of December – a great time of year to model giving and receiving! Plus, December has 5 Sundays in it, so I knew there was an opportunity to promote the 5th Sunday Appeal for United Voices for Children.
Several months ago, a Christian Educator colleague had shared the idea of giving every family a copy of The Family Book by Todd Parr. Her congregation is incorporating creative and fun ways to encourage a more meaningful connection to what it means to being a Reconciling Congregation welcoming LGBTQ persons and well, everyone especially all families! I tucked this idea away in the middle of my mind as a ‘good idea’ for future use.
Fast forward to November and I am working on ideas for Children’s Messages when I realize I could make a meaningful connection to the Holy Family and the families served by United Voices for Children’s 5th Sunday Appeal (in December) inviting children to give money in their own personalized envelope. I purchased copies of The Family Book by Todd Parr to give to each family and prepared United Voices for Children envelopes for each child to receive. I wrote on each envelope at the top the name of the child and “Child of God!” h en
During the Children’s Message two weeks before the 5th Sunday, I read a few selected pages from the book and showed the pictures to the children. We talked about families – all families. Each family received a copy of the book (which was such a surprise!). In addition, each child received an envelope, so they could participate in the 5th Sunday Appeal two weeks later or that very day. The intentional effort to draw attention to the 5th Sunday before the 5th Sunday created some curiosity on the part of the children and the adults making it a forethought not an afterthought. Being able to give a copy of the book to each family was special, but not necessarily a must if a congregation cannot afford it. Or, ask a member to sponsor this gift? I bought 12 and had just enough.
Modeling generosity in this way is a powerful lesson on caring about others at any time of the year not just Christmas. Children are truly generous givers and care deeply about other children. They continue to lead us. May we listen and respond with generous hearts.
formerly Director of Family Ministry, Trinity UMC Wilmette
now Manager of Faith & Community Relations at Kids Above All