Imagine a church service with the first pew crammed full of 12 and 13 year old boys. What collective noun would come to mind to describe them
A "dust storm of adolescents " A "pewb of lads " However you might want to define them, on a Saturday evening at five o'clock at St. Mary's Kerrisdale, they are fully engaged in worship.
At the beginning of last November, a new worship experience came to birth at St. Mary's called Saturdays at five. The banner on the front lawn of the church billed it as "brief, youthful, joyful." Three weeks later it is fulfilling its promise of what was advertised and, with close to 100 people attending, it seems to be hitting the mark.
Saturdays at five aims to address the frustration expressed by young families hard-pressed to balance the demands of children's activities - like soccer and hockey - with the desire to come to church. I thank God for the initial success of Saturdays at five, and also I am thankful that a number of older people are choosing to attend, too.
|Participants at St. Mary's Saturday evening service|
The older folks tend to be established parishioners of St. Mary's. Some of the younger families are people who grew up at St. Mary's, but for whom the demands of the weekend make Sunday mornings too difficult for them, and a number of others have had little or no exposure to the worship life of this or any parish.
Saturdays at five is a celebration of Holy Eucharist. All words of songs, scripture and prayer - augmented by graphic images - are projected onto a large, rear-projection screen purchased for the purpose by Hugh Robertson. Generally, the music is accessible to those who are just learning to read, and the length of the teaching - and indeed the whole 45 minute service - is geared to those with a short attention span.
Child care is available for little ones (although they're welcome to stay in church) and, following the service, a meal of kid-friendly food like macaroni & cheese, hotdogs, or spaghetti is served in the parish hall. This after-church time is proving to be a fun play time for kids, and a relaxing break for parents as somebody else takes care of the cooking.
The service is designed around a theme series. The first four weeks have been themed "Urban Legends." Each evening, the teaching connects an urban legend with a passage of scripture and makes an application to daily life.
On December 1, and throughout the month, the theme will be "Hope & Glory" with a focus on seasonal traditions in the home that point children to a deeper appreciation of Advent and Christmas.
Families are invited to share some aspect of their household's annual rituals, like lighting candles on an Advent wreath, opening the doors of a calendar, or setting up a Christmas creche. Starting in January, Saturdays at five will focus on prayer: how to pray... and why.
One woman, whom I'd never met before, said to me last Saturday, "This is exactly what my family has been looking for. Finally we can come to church together at a time that suits us. It's fun, casual, and it's exactly what kids like. You can see they're interested. Congratulations!"
If you haven't been to Saturdays at five, drop by to experience it for yourself. Maybe then you'll appreciate the challenge of naming the phenomenon of several rows of kids, inside church, on a Saturday, singing, clapping their hands, and worshiping God with smiles on their faces. Maybe the best description is a "chatter of cherubs!"