Good Friday

Holy Week is one of my favorite weeks of the liturgical year. It’s filled with sadness, loss, grief……but, also, hope. I can’t go through a Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service without crying. The Lenten season was when my daughter first received communion. It’s when I’m reminded that it’s my sins that nailed Him to the cross.But, oh, the hope. The hope and good news that it did not end in death but in life. The hope that, while we grieve today, Sunday is coming. The stone will be rolled away, and the tomb will be empty. Death will not defeat Him.

I also love Holy Week because of the tradition it’s saturated in. Growing up in a Catholic/Methodist household (and now raising our children in one), I was exposed to various traditions but one god. The differences are very, very subtle. I’ve been asked recently what Holy Week is all about. It’s about the remembrance of the sacrifice that was given for you and for me. It’s the final preparation of our hearts for the coming of Easter, as we’ve been preparing since Ash Wednesday.

Maundy Thursday remembers the Last Supper, with Jesus and His disciples. At St. James last night, the feet of 12 attendees were washed by the priest, something that I’ve seen at Methodist services, as well. We partake in communion and leave somberly, acknowledging what happened on that Good Friday so long ago.

Today is Good Friday, and today across the world, His death is remembered. We remember the betrayal of Judas. We remember his forgiveness of the sinner on the cross next to him. We remember His words of “it is finished” and His side that was pierced.

It was as if the world was left with no hope. Today we mourn but never forget. Sunday is coming.

Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 2

I hope the first part in the series wasn’t too off base for you. This part may not be what you’re expecting, either.

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We, as adults, have an obligation for setting standards for our youth. At an age that is appropriate for the denomination, older youth should have ways to help the church, whether that is being part of the choir, an acolyte, an usher or whatever job is age appropriate. With proper adult guidance, these youth will become the active part of the church. Without them, the church is literally dying.

Kids are much more capable than we often give them credit for. Unless it is against the rules of a particular church, it is proper etiquette for adult church leaders to offer roles to youth. It is important to get parental approval first, though.

Adults, give the same respect to a child participating in a worship service as you would give another adult. If an acolyte is walking down the aisle, don’t cut them off to rush out, unless it is truly an emergency. There is a sacredness to each act, and if we want our youth to respect it, we should, too.

Adults and older youth – if you see a parent with his or her hands’ full, please open the door for them.

Adults – please do not touch young babies without the parent’s permission. If you are sick, wait until you are well.

Now we’re about to get into some grayer area.

As mentioned in a previous post, kids should be dressed respectfully. If they are not walking, though, there is no need for shoes other than parents’ choice. If an outfit is extremely uncomfortable for a child, please don’t dress them in it. It is unlikely they will be still, and they will probably try to escape out of it.

Parents, it is your responsibility to only take your children to worship services when they are well. Just like babies are susceptible to illnesses, the elderly are, as well.

I hope these two posts will help adults and children have more grace and respect for each other. Life isn’t a Pinterest board, and things will not be perfect all of the time. However, through etiquette, we can feel more comfortable in knowing what expectations are set for us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you for reading!

 

Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 1

In this day and age, churches overall have become more casual. That being said, this post may be slightly skewed, as I truly enjoy the formality and ceremonial part of a church service. My apologies in advance if this doesn’t apply to you. Also, this will be from a Christian point of view. If visiting a synagogue or attending any other religious service not affiliated with Christianity, the etiquette tips mentioned may or may not apply.

Now that the disclaimer is done, this post will focus primarily on church etiquette for youth. The underlying tone is about respect of a place of a worship.

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There are a few rules that are universal for both adults and youth.

  1. No hats inside of the building (sanctuary, nave, etc.) unless on a female. The hat must not be for practical purposes (baseball cap) if it is left on, and it must not block another person’s view.
  2. Electronic devices should be muted during the worship service.
  3. A person may elect to not participate in any part of the worship service that conflicts with their personal beliefs. By this I mean if you are visiting another church, and you do not wish to partake in Holy Communion, you do not have to. However, you do not have the right to interfere with the integrity of an event.

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For children, the old adage of “they are meant to be seen and not heard” is quite antiquated. There is, for Christians, one God. Not one for youth and one for adults. If a baby is crying nonstop, it is best for the parents or guardian to take the baby outside until he/she has calmed down. However, it is ok for coos or noise to be made. Also, it’s ok for the parent to quietly explain to his or her child what is taking place during the worship service. It’s how they learn.

Overall, children should remain in the pew. I’m a believer that kids should be in the sanctuary, but that is a personal choice, not an etiquette choice. That being said, it is perfectly fine if they stand, provided they aren’t blocking anyone’s view. Especially for young toddlers, a worship service is a long time to not be active. Alternative activities could be coloring, drawing, etc. I know some parents and grandparents may wonder if the reason they are taking kids to church is still applicable if the kids are just coloring. My answer? Yes. I know adults that will appear to listen in church and are really just thinking about football, and I know adults who draw the whole time because their mind goes a millions miles a minute. The same is true for kids.

I feel that kids should be respectfully dressed. The interpretation is up to the parents. However, as a few guidelines, nothings vulgar, nothing obscene, nothing excessively revealing. Also, keep is appropriate for the particular church you attend. Some churches are more casual. Some are more formal.

Children should be incorporated into the service, not excluded from it, to the extent that is appropriate for that denomination. I’m a United Methodist. For us, it is the parents’ decision on when a child receives communion. For other denominations, it is age-based. We allow both of our children to receive communion when we do; however, it would be inappropriate for us to do so at a church of another denomination.

Finally, it is appropriate for young kids and babies to be allowed to eat/drink in the sanctuary, provided they use spill-proof bottles and/or cups, unless noted otherwise. Likewise, it is perfectly fine for a mother to nurse her child in the sanctuary. Hungry babies simply don’t wait. I know some of these etiquette guidelines may be a little different than you expected. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, check back for Part 2: Etiquette for Older Youth.