Before worship yesterday, I pondered what I would say about the horrific events in Connecticut. The children were leading worship so I wasn’t preaching. I decided to light two candles on the altar in remembrance (thankfully realizing 28 lit candles wouldn’t mix well with wiggly, excited kids) and say some brief words at the beginning of worship. I wanted to be vague (so I wouldn’t scare any children) and talk about how our act of worship–led by our children–was our way to stand in the face of unimaginable violence.
When I stood up in front of the congregation to say my opening remarks, I directly faced the kids bouncing around at the entrance to the sanctuary, waiting to process in. They sparkled with energy (not only because many of them wore itchy shiny gold halos). I could almost see the cloud of nervous joy rise up like dust around their feet. They were safe, enjoying life, and surrounded by people who love them. My gratefulness at this simple morning overwhelmed me and the emotions were too much. I stood in front of the congregation without words, and we wept together in grief and thankfulness for the lives of our children and children everywhere.
I’ll never forget how the children led worship yesterday–not because it was perfect but because it was profoundly meaningful. I’ll remember the twins who geared themselves up to say their lines by taking a moment to breathe deeply and say “Okay!” to themselves. And the girl who ran past the microphone, barely getting her line out before disappearing into the pews. And the girl who stood an extra moment in the spotlight, grinning out at the crowd. And the boy who tripped over his flowing robe, and the girl who spoke so eloquently I had a vision of her as a future teacher, and the boy who said his lines so earnestly, and the sisters with the matching pigtails and smiles, and the boy who took a bit longer than the rest to line up to sing, and the tiny girl who stole the whole show. And the words of Scripture, words of hope and prophecy reminding us to love our neighbor, read by children’s voices.
After worship, I became distracted by conversations and a long meeting. When most people had left, I turned out the lights in the quiet building. I noticed two candles still burning on the altar. No one could blow them out.