Inspiration comes in surprising places. As I read Robert Raines’ A Time to Live: Seven Tasks of Creative Aging, I came across this quote. “Philip Roth writes that his father gave him the vernacular, the street language of Newark in the 1930’s. My father gave me the Bible, the faith language of Minneapolis in the 1930s. The liturgy crept into my bones.”
I like that phrase, “The liturgy crept into my bones.” It is what I want for children – and all the rest of us. So how does that happen? For one thing, it does not happen quickly. Things “creep into our bones” slowly when we are repeatedly exposed to them over time by and with people who are passionate about them. That is something for parents to remember when getting the family to the sanctuary requires more effort and nets fewer immediate results than we wish. It IS worth it. Over time, it will creep into their and our bones.
But, it takes more than just being there. Children are keen observers. If we are just putting in our time, they notice. If we are really into worship, they notice that too. So, we need to sing and pray and listen like we mean it, i.e. we need to model serious worshiping.
But it takes more than modeling worship. We also need to talk with the children about worship. In the van on the way to and from worship parents can comment on specific parts of the day’s worship confirming what the children see and hear in the sanctuary. They can also hear children talk about worship and help them stretch their understanding of what is going on.
In worship we say and sing words that are used very few other places in children’s lives. We have to help them learn to pronounce those words and grow in their understanding of them. Worship planners help when they include occasional vocabulary lessons “on-the-job” as key words are used in the sanctuary. Parents help when they use those words at home and help their particular children grow in their understanding of those words.
Over time when children worship frequently with the most important adults in their lives led by worship leaders who are intentionally working to draw them in, they find that liturgy has indeed “crept into their bones.” And, once the creeping begins it tends to continue throughout life.