Saturday, May 19, 2007

10 Reasons Why I Love Worshiping With My Children

10. "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." Psalm 8:2

9. It's a reminder of God's Covenantal Promises. As members of the Covenant Community, children of believers have been present in formal worship down through the ages. There are plenty of Old Testament passages that tell of this, including Exodus 12:24-27, Deuteronomy 12:17-18, 29:10-13 and 31:10-13, Joshua 8:35, 2 Chronicles 20:13, and 1 Samuel 1:4. And just so there's no confusion over appropriate ages, Joel 2:15-16 calls children, to include "those nursing at the breast," to the sacred assembly.

8. My children are learning to worship and trust in the Lord even at this very young age. Recall Samuel, who had just been weaned, worshipping in the house of the Lord in 1 Samuel 1:28 (and later in his youth in 2:18 and 3:1). We also have the example of David trusting in the Lord at his mother's breast (Psalm 22:9).

7. God not only can be praised by children, He wants to be! Matthew 21:15-16 describes the Pharisees becoming indignant when children in the temple (a place of worship) shout, "Hosanna to the Son of David." Jesus, however, gladly received their praise and rebuked the religious leaders.

6. I fear the Lord. The disciples rebuked those who brought little ones to Jesus in Matthew 19:13 (also recorded in Mark 10:13 and Luke 18:15), but Jesus called the children to himself and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16) In Matthew 18:5, Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me," but then warns in the following verse, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea," and in verse 10, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

5. Children are blessings not just to their parents, but to the whole Body of Christ. Children model the kind of faith God expects of us. "I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4) And what a blessing it is to all of us in the Church to see His kingdom advanced by these precious gifts He has blessed us with! The reminder of children in worship can and should help us in stirring up genuine praise to God, returning our focus to God and His blessings in our lives.

4. To arouse their curiosity and bring them to ask questions. Just as one of the purposes of including children in the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread was to stir up questions from them ("What does this ceremony mean to you?" Exodus 12:26), so our worship services and observation of Sacraments offer a valuable opportunity for our children to witness and question important aspects of our faith and worship. However worship is conducted, questions will be raised. What message does it send to our children when they are sent out to play or quarantined behind glass walls during worship?

3. To cultivate a love for God and a sincere desire to worship Him. My toddler asks nearly every day to go to church and pushes us all out the door on Sunday mornings, eager to worship God. Things I have the privilege of hearing during the week include, "I want to go to God's house," "I love Jesus," "I want to give money to God," "We are in Jesus's family," "God loves me!" "I want to answer my catechism questions," "Can we read our devotion book?" "Let's sing 'Holy, Holy, Holy,'" "I want to read about Jesus!" "Jesus is at God's house. Can we go to church?"

2. To impress God's commandments on the hearts of our children. We are commanded to do this in Deuteronomy 6:7. Being such a rich source of this, surely corporate worship would be one expected means of accomplishing this. Examples of this have already been pointed out in Reason #9.

1. I see the gleam in my toddler's eyes when she listens to the proclamation of God's Word and whispers to me, "I was made for Jesus."