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The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath The Rev. Emily Heath

The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire (UCC), and a writer and public theologian. She is the author of 'Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity' (Pilgrim Press).

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The Congregational Church in Exeter UCC, Exeter, NH


Emily Heath: The Most Stressful Part of Sundays

July 14, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples, "Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. - Luke 17:1-2

I would rather write five sermons than lead the children's lesson at church. That's not really true, but I can say that I would have a whole lot less anxiety over those sermons than I would about the children's time. At my church we have the children's lesson near the start of worship, right before our elementary kids go downstairs for church school. I come down and sit on the steps, and they gather around me. 

From there, I have no idea what to expect. Some weeks, in the summer, it could be just a few of them. Other weeks, they are legion. Some come racing down the aisle. Others are barely coaxed out of the pew by their parents. Some love to ask questions. Others wander off to explore the more interesting parts of the sanctuary. Some weeks they answer my questions with a theological astuteness worthy of degrees. Other times....let's just say it's good for pastors to be able to laugh at themselves. 

In short, I don't know what is going to happen up there. Worship can be planned meticulously, but I just can't control how the youngest generation is going to respond. As anxiety-producing as that is, though, it's also fantastic. It's a great reminder that God is always working, always creating new generations of faith, always invoking curiosity, and that sometimes the rest of us just need to get out of God's way before we become stumbling blocks.

I tell the people who serve with the children and youth at our church that if the kids forget their whole Sunday school lessons, it's okay. If all they know when they leave church is that we love them, and God loves them, that's a win. That's a win for all of us.

Prayer

Dear God, help me to know your love and help me to pass it on, even when things get a bit chaotic. Amen.

From UCC's StillSpeaking devotionals


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