Thank you for "Ministry for the Sippy Cup Set
" (July / August 2009). I've wondered for years why the Lutheran church has sidestepped the littlest in our midst. As a former director of Christian education and at present a pastor, I am glad that we at least have this article to spur pastors and churches to remember the little ones Jesus encourages us to bring to him.
At the church that I currently serve (Grace, Westerville, Ohio), we have just this year started a special "Munchkin Ministry" during worship. Everyone is welcomed into worship, and as parish concerns begin at the end of the Gathering Rite, we "release the munchkins" to their special area during the reading of the lessons, sermon, creed and prayers. Our Munchkins are ages two through kindergarten. (Our nursery now only services birth through age two.) During this time, they engage in age‑appropriate activities and learn about the faith given us in language that they can understand.
The central preschool faith themes are fairly standard: "I like to go to church," "God loves me," "Jesus loves me," "I like to worship," "God's beautiful world," and seasonal themes such as "Easter joy."
I've been amazed as this ministry has taken off. We have over 30 children who now participate on a regular basis and parents are thankful, stating in a variety of ways, "I can finally listen to the sermon." The munchkins know when the pastor stands for parish concerns that they get to go to "Munchkin Ministry." They bound out in great excitement, making adults smile. Then they return to worship during the offering time, ready to join us at God's table for God's special meal. They bound back in and the adults smile all over again. They have captured the hearts of the grumpiest of worshipers and the comments from the adults are a testament to that. ("I look forward to them going out and coming back in." "It warms my heart, pastor.")
We finish our worship with [our] "dismissal" ministers — all of our children — who join the pastors at the font and say in loud unison, "Go in peace. Serve the Lord." And the little ones come up to us pastors and say with great delight,"I want to come back!" Amen to that!
We're writing our own curriculum for this age group and our church is learning that ministering to this age group and their parents is a worthy calling indeed. (And a great deal of fun for us adults, too!)
An interesting outgrowth of this ministry is that parents with children younger than two really believe now that their tiny ones are welcome, too. The preschoolers' ministry among us is their witness to the acceptance they are experiencing and the fun they are having, now that they can "be little" without being frowned upon. Our nursery is not used much at all anymore, but is staffed so that a birth to two child who really needs a break can find care and love. I've heard several members tell parents something to this effect, "It won't be long now and your child can enjoy Munchkin Ministry!"
Thank for you reminding the church that these little ones are hungry to learn, participate with us, and share in the faith. And may I say with great passion — they are wonderful ministers, too!
Belief and Communism
This is in answer to the letter by L. A. Jake Jacobson, "To Those in Need" (July / August 2009).
"Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32).
In other words, every one of them believed in Jesus as the promised Messiah, Son of God, Savior of the world. This is the only reason it worked, and as far as we know it must have not worked for very long because along came Ananias and Sapphira who lied to God and dropped dead at the apostles' feet.
"And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things." (Acts 5:11) and "None of the rest dared join to them" (Acts 5:13).
In other words, the only way true communism can work is if all are believers in Jesus as the Messiah, Son of God, Savior of the world. Outside of that belief communism can never work because of human sin.
East Lakota, North Dakota
After Years of Service
Author: This is a summary of my feelings. It covers more than just [one] retired pastor, and extends to anyone blessed by feeding the multitudes or rolling up your sleeves for God.
John 6:9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many?"
I am kin to that lad. I had barely enough for my own use. And to view the needs of multitudes was to see impossible numbers. The disciple Andrew looks at the need and says, "But what are they among so many?"
Jesus took what I had. And he broke it! It was bad enough that Jesus took the little I had. Others had more than I. And Jesus broke it. Jesus broke what I had and gave it away. Others benefited from what once was mine. I wasn't always happy to see others benefit from what God took from me, and broke, and gave away. That's how it is sometimes with lads.
In reflection as I look back, those meager rations of mine were really gifts. Somebody else caught the fish. Somebody else baked the bread. Somebody else insisted I carry the lunch that day. None of it was mine.
Where I once resented having God take, use, break, and give away, I now reflect on how the meager fare went so far. There is no rational explanation. There is no logic. When God blesses something there is a magnificent return. Fifty years of having God take away, break, bless and give to others and what have I got? Five thousand have been fed! And there are 12 baskets left over! Resentment is replaced by awe. There is far, far more left over than when I began. God indeed has been at work.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
This article appeared in the November / December 2009 issue of Lutheran Partners (vol. 25, no. 6).