I was apprehensive about the answers I would receive when I asked the third graders what Bible passage I should memorize for Children’s Day, this Sunday, June 2. Would they suggest something too long for me to learn? Or a passage from the Old Testament that would be rated PG 13 or R if it were a movie?
Still, I asked because I want them to know that we recognize the amount of effort and practice they have put into learning key scripture passages by heart this year: Psalm 23, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the Greatest Commandment, and the books of the Bible. Following in the footsteps of decades of Kenilworth Union Church children, twenty-six young people will be given personalized Bibles this Sunday.
This accomplishment would not be possible without the support of their parents, the third grade teaching team, the generous gift Bibles from the Al Menke family, and the entire congregation. We adults know that reaching this important milestone is only the beginning of engaging with the Bible’s meaning for our lives. These verses, written on our hearts, become treasures that help us make every day decisions, give us comfort in the shadows of life, offer words of prayer when we have no words of our own, and remind us that love of God and neighbor is essential to our faith.
The third grade Bible year is just one of the beautiful ways in which Kenilworth Union nurtures the faith of young people. This nurture is rooted in the promises we make each time a child is baptized—“to guide and nurture this young child by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging him or her to know and follow Christ, and to be faithful Christians.”
Of all the Bible passages the third graders could have tried to stump me with when I asked what I should memorize for Sunday, they requested the story of Jesus’ baptism. Of all the stories, both strange and familiar they could have chosen, this one is a perfect reminder of why we gather on Children’s Day: to continue to support them on their lifelong journey of faith.
Thanks be to God for the opportunity to love and nurture these dedicated, thoughtful group of children. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. Until then, you will find me, Bible in hand, memorizing my verses.