Prayers and Stones

Holy Family’s Children’s Liturgy is offered on the first and third Sunday of every month. We begin by gathering together at the font. One of the children serves as our crucifer, carefully carrying the cross as the other children trail behind. Many of our children consider carrying the cross to be a task of utmost importance. They are reminded to carry it with two hands and to hold it high enough that everyone can see it clearly and follow in a straight line.

When we arrive downstairs in the commons the children have several tasks: the crucifer sets the cross in a visible place at the front of the room, another child lays out our underlay (a cloth in the appropriate liturgical color), and another selects a place on the cloth to place our good shepherd cross. Our time and work together involves intentionally gathering and preparing to respond to God together.

We sit in a circle on the floor, share our names, and if we have visitors, something else about ourselves. Then, the fun begins. We pray together in many different ways. We form clay into prayers for the church, world, and someone we love on large sheets of brown craft paper. Or, we make signs for the World (arms above our heads in a circle), Church (arms in the shape of a cross), and someone we love (arms crossed over our chest). Each child shares their prayers.

Yesterday, we gathered together around our underlay, cross, and a pile of rocks. We talked about all of the stories involving rocks we know from the Bible. The children each shared and did not disappoint. Among their favorites: Moses receives the gift of water from a rock in the desert, Abraham and Jacob leave stones peppering the desert landscape, Israel leaves 12 stones on the bed of the Jordan river as they enter the land God gives to them, “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” Jesus says: “On this rock I will build my church,” a heavy stone rolls away exposing the empty tomb on that first Easter morning, stones make the church’s first martyr, Saint Stephen. The stories kept coming!

We remembered the promises of God and the many times people cried out to God and God answered. Then, each child took a smooth stone of their own. They offered thanksgivings and concerns from their own hearts, remembering to mention the Church, world, and people they loved. I started, laying the center stone. Each a child offered a prayer, slowly arranging the stones into the shape of a cross right next to our Good Shepherd cross.

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When we were finished, we turned over the stone in the middle, “God is in this place.” We remembered that when two or more people gather together and offer their prayers, God is in the midst of them.

We closed with our feast. One child passes out napkins, another distributes cookies. We wait until everyone is served before we stand, sing a short doxology (with gestures), and eat together. As each is ready, a child gathers up the feast materials and children line up to return upstairs for the real feast, bread and wine with the gathered community.
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