I normally do not post something that is "parish specific" on this blog because I want it to be a resource for everyone. The following is slightly modified from a post to our parish mailing list (anyone can join). I thought I would post in the hope of getting constructive comments, help and resources.
A little background.
We have several children under 5, and a few pre-teens that may be able to come to these liturgies.
<2 1 girl
2-3 5 girls, 1 boy
4-5 1 girl
4th-4th grade age – 1 girl.
I hope I did not miss any!
Dear Brothers and sisters:
This Thursday will be the 1st of, God willing, many Thursday liturgies for and with the children. I have high hopes for them, and for our young ones, whom we will be "training in the way they should go" by our example and teachings. I want at least one a month, and suggest two: the 1st and 3rd Thursdays.
I wish to discuss these liturgies with you, and perhaps we can toss around some ideas.
1. Schedule for this Thursday.
+ 9 AM liturgy (short and snappy)
+about 10 AM – breakfast
+during breakfast, spiritual discussion with everyone. I think I will talk about the sign of the cross. I anticipate this being short, and interactive. I am better with older children (so I think) so I will take cues from you the parents. I hope all of us can contribute to this discussion.
+after breakfast I want to read a part of a wonderful book about St Seraphim (or paraphrase, or talk about) with the children.
I anticipate wrapping up by 11.
These depend on the ages of the children (we may have 2 or more distinct groups), my organizational skills and your input. I anticipate them being somewhat tied to the church year. I want to have some physical stuff – how to make a prostration, what to do when entering the church, singing, etc. I will need a lot of help with the younger children, since I think I run the risk of getting too "deep" for them.
I think short plays that we make up would be very good. We could even do it this Thursday. This is my namesday, and we could make a play about St Seraphim and the bear "Misha" (now just who might be the bear? 🙂 ). We could present these little short plays at church on Sunday. The kids will get the attention they crave (like all of us, really), and get it doing something holy. This is great for their development.
4. My namesday.
I think it is good for the children to identify closely with the priest as "their priest", and know him well. Making a cake and "surprising" me would be fun for them. In general, I think we should make a bigger deal about namesdays, with a cake or something simple. We could do this on every Thursday that has a namesday near. I think it would be awesome to sing the troparion, and maybe something else. The more children are involved, the better.
5. Participation of the children.
I think even the little ones can participate. We need to organize this a little. We could have the older ones sing the troparia, and direct the younger ones to sing "Lord have mercy". The older ones could read the Epistle. Musical literacy is a great gift to have. We have talented musicians among us, who also happen to be moms and good with kids. We can do something Thursday, or just talk about it.
Many of you homeschool. I want the church to be an important resource for this, and hope that our Thursdays will grow into an organized cooperative where we have religious and other teaching. I think choir is very important, and bible study. We have many talents, and could pool them. The kids would have a peer group to identify with, who do not think that celebrating Nativity in January or fasting is weird.
I have no personal expectations for anyone, except the fervent hope that those who can will attend the liturgies. The amount of involvement is up to you and your personal inclinations, time and resources. I am thinking out loud here, and do not want anyone to be scared off because they think they cannot make a commitment they think I am asking them to make. We will see where this goes.
8. Homeschool resources.
For those who homeschool, I would like to see our resources, knowledge and experiences pooled in some way. Maybe we should have a mailing list, web page of links, resources, curriculum, etc. I am not saying this needs to be a huge big deal. Anybody have any ideas?
9. All Thursday liturgies are for the parish.
I commemorate all the parish members in the Great Ectenia at all Thursday liturgies. This is very important. I have stated many times that it is the single most important change in our parish life in the last year. The "children’s liturgies" will not be "children only" liturgies!
Any comments? Is anybody excited?