By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

By all accounts, the Outreach Benefit last weekend was a huge success. Funds were raised to support our 39 Outreach Agencies, new friendships were fostered at the dinner tables, and God’s love was lifted up. This is one of the ways that we live out the greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

But how do you raise a new generation of generous Christians who know how to live into this commandment?

When I ask our four-year-olds who their neighbor might be, they reply something like this: my neighbor is Andrew, Sarah, Mrs. Reid, Beckett. They are literal and exact. These are their neighbors. Andrew lives next door. Mrs. Reid lives across the street. But, by 3rd grade, we ask them to dig deeper: they learn the greatest commandment by heart, the context around it, what it might mean beyond their own literal next door neighbor, and why Jesus was preaching this idea of love your neighbor as yourself in the first place.

I haven’t quite tracked down a clear history of who started this tradition of third graders memorizing scripture, but I know it goes back at least 50 years, and I know the roster of scripture passages to be memorized and recited on Children’s Day has been the same for at least that long: The Greatest Commandment, Psalm 23, The Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, and The Lord’s Prayer.

Because this tradition is so deep, so long, so rich, I’m now coming to think that the Outreach Benefit and Children’s Day are not quite stand-alone events. It seems as if they are linked across the generations by Jesus’ radical gospel of love that, in this world that otherwise promotes selfish ambition, says instead: love your neighbor as yourself. This radical love of Jesus, this radical love toward others, is deeply embedded at Kenilworth Union and is made manifest across generations in outreach and service and caring ministries.

I hope you will be part of supporting the next generation of Christians by coming to worship this Sunday for our annual Children’s Day celebration, where our children will lead worship and help us proclaim Jesus’ gospel of love.

  • Worship at 9 a.m. will be Worship for All Ages with a sermon, including leadership from some 5th and 6th graders guest liturgists.
  • Worship at 10:30 a.m. will be led by our students third grade and younger, and will especially highlight the scripture our third graders learned by heart.