The vase that held the rose from Junia’s baptism now holds a stem of white mums, my November birth flower. They are a souvenir from yesterday’s Flower Communion, part of the Youth Takeover of worship. My own worship has been under a Youth Takeover since June 2020, and I’ve written before about the various challenges of being determined to honor the vows we made in baptism to bring this child to the services of the Lord’s house. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to experiencing a more formal sense of youth leadership in worship.
I loved hearing what the young people wanted to emphasize in worship, found myself stunned by the frankness and tenderness of the prayers they rewrote, and learned the story of Norbert Čapek, a Unitarian minister killed by the Nazis in 1942. The young people brought us his flower ceremony, in which everyone present at church chose a flower, placed it in large vase, and then took a new flower home with them after the flowers were arranged and blessed in the service. The symbolism of all it of it was so rich: the blessing of the motley, of the remix; the blessing that can only be created out of all the blessings we offer each other when we share spiritual space.
It was a hit with Junia, too, who recognized “Jesus Loves Me” and always appreciates an excuse to get up and take a walk during church. She placed our flowers in the vase and almost knocked over the vase (almost. Reflexes!); she colored in her farm animal coloring book; and decided she was ready for a break sometime during the Great Thanksgiving. And so, as I often do, I ended up spending part of church in the rear, trying to stop her from rocking the rocking chair straight through the wall and counting the number of times she could run up and down the stairs before rejoining the service in time for the last third of the Lord’s Prayer.
It occurs to me, now, that yesterday’s Gospel from John 10 hallows the follower, even when the follower is a teacher and a parent and maybe has some teeny tiny minor control issues and maybe thinks she should, needs to be, in charge most or all of the time. That the number of real leaders can be counted on one finger.
It occurs to me, only now, after almost three years of trying to share church with my child, that the interrupted, the partial, the uneven is the experience of sharing church with my child. That allowing her a space in which I am not the only one mediating her experience is keeping my promise to God, allowing her to be part of a living Flower Communion for, I hope, her whole life.
It’s probably not a coincidence that I felt myself arriving more fully and soundly in this place during Youth Takeover Worship. Jesus is probably laughing. That’s okay. It wouldn’t be the first time.