The readings for the final Sunday in our church year, Christ the King, were full of references to shepherds, sheep, kings, and the Rider called “Faithful and True.” It was easy to take these thoughts into our morning Atrium time. Silence and large thoughts with small children can be comfortable; after all, wondering how Jesus could be both a Shepherd and a King is a hefty matter. As usual, after prayer, we went to work.
Busy children worked with an array of materials: the liturgical calendar, the more complicated vocabulary for items at the Altar (e.g. corporal, ciborium!), our geography works that show the cities and regions in the land of Israel. We thought about the coming of Advent next week, where the visit of the angel took place, and what news would be shared. I noticed one child returning again to a favorite work, the Good Shepherd and the sheepfold. The last time we pondered that parable and read together “the sheep don’t follow the voice of a stranger; they run away from a stranger because they don’t know his voice,” he offered his view: “They run back to God.”
But the already rich morning was capped for me at our prayer time. Not only it is wonderful to watch children offer respectful silence while others pray, it is a joy to hear their thanksgivings. As I thought about their litany of thanks, I also considered the “order” in which they were named. Random? Perhaps. But it was still a joy to be thankful for “families, toys, food, Jesus, the Church.” I am grateful the children are thankful for the Church, in whom they are full members already. After that thanksgiving, it was a small step to also be thankful for cranberries, as the Spirit moved someone to declare, and we could all agree and sing, “Thank you Lord, for everything.”