Author: Rev. Christopher Thoma
Publisher: Angels’ Portion Books
First things first: kids belong in the Divine Service. Christ has said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:14) But kids wiggle, kids ask questions, and every so often, we adults don’t know how to answer them. The Divine Service can seem complicated. And even if it is something we are used to, perhaps we have never been instructed in what the various parts of the service, liturgy, and calendar are, let alone what they mean. Thankfully, Rev. Thoma has put together this wonderful little book, Kids in the Divine Service. And its subtitle is a perfect summary: Why we do what we do in worship.
This little book was originally a collection of pamphlets your church could print out and keep in the pews, hand out to families, or place into bags with other things to keep kids distracted in church. But these pamphlets weren’t meant to keep kids distracted but to help both parents and kids engage or participate in the Divine Service. What do these things that we see and hear mean? Sometimes, we parents don’t have all the answers, especially if we did not grow up in the church or were not catechized in this way. There is a Latin saying: Qui docet discit – he who teaches learns. Such is the case with this book and having kids in the DIvine Service. The kids ask questions, and this book will help you, parents, teach your children. And along the way, you might learn a few things yourself. I know I did.
The book is divided into four sections: the Church year, the Nave and Sanctuary, the Liturgy, and other general topics. Within each of these sections are one-page explanations of key questions (easily discovered in the table of contents) children might ask as they watch you, the other members, and the pastor during the Divine Service. And this is a point that Rev. Thoma brings up in his introduction. Kids belong in the service. It is just as much for them, the lambs, as it is for the sheep. How else are they to learn except by watching you? So let them watch and let them quietly ask questions, Rev. Thoma encourages. And if you don’t know the answers, check out this little book or ask your pastor.
This is a simple, straightforward, and short book that is great for any family with young children. And while the book is designed to aid parents in instructing their children (there are even suggestions to parents for what they can do during or after the service, or in their home devotions), I as an adult learned as I read the book. It is perfectly engaging for an adult while also easily understood by children. The black and white pages have helpful illustrations as well that may also serve as launch points to connect the teaching with other symbols seen in the sanctuary. I could see this book used as a gift for a baptism or first communion. Better yet, churches could hand these out to their families and leave them in their pews for visitors. This is such a helpful little book that is sure to be a blessing to every family with wiggly and inquisitive lambs in the pews.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig