By: MARGARET BROWN
Attending Church was a chore from childhood up. To sit among a congregation of stony faced grown-ups who knew all the right responses and ‘tut tutted’ if one sniffled, for me sounded the death knell of any interest in matters holy.
Children were an irritation and nothing seemed to have changed when we began to take our youngsters to the local Church when they were toddlers. Sprouting seeds of faith withered on the rocky ground, died from lack of nourishment and so it remained for many years.
Things have changed and many Churches actively encourage families with small children, any background noise an accepted part of morning worship. As with St Vincent’s parish in the Algarve, provision is made for an early introduction to the Bible.
In Luz, on Sundays after a brief session up front with our Chaplain watched with great interest by the adults, the rising generation disappears into the vestry. There they learn about Jesus, draw pictures, make models and listen to stories from the Bible read by dedicated lady volunteers.
Rejoining their families, they go up for a blessing during the giving of the Eucharist, on occasions showing off their art work in passing.
Church going is a serious business in which we confront our shortcomings, admit that we are sinners and ask forgiveness, but as Father Haynes pointed out in his last sermon, the supreme gift of faith should be one of joy.
As yet unsullied by worldly concerns, children find joy in simple things and as Luke’s Gospel Ch: 18 v 17 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it”.