March 15, 2020. This was the first Sunday we began to explore family worship from our home. Although churches had not yet shut down in NB, the announced closure of schools two days earlier led us to choosing to stay home. Eighteen Sundays have gone by, and we are still worshipping at home. Our structure of worship has changed. We’ve incorporated different elements into our weekly rhythm, and have been surprised at how quickly new practices became “traditions” to our kids.
We have four kids, ranging from 3-11. Sunday morning (or afternoon or Monday) worship can often get messy. I’d love to say that we have been consistent in a time and that these are always serene moments. But that hasn’t been our reality. We’re working to point our children to Jesus, and find rhythms that work. We’re discovering new support systems, and we have been pleasantly surprised and blessed by the pastoral care we’ve received from a church three hours away whose online content we’ve been appreciating.
Let me share one element we’ve incorporated. Shortly before Easter, we began trekking up to the top of the hill in our subdivision where we have a great view of the Wolastoq River. We started using “Telling God’s Story” while we sat at the top of the hill. As we reflected on the story of Jesus blessing the children, the suggested activity called for us to bless one another. We learned together how prayer is talking to God, while blessing is talking to the other person, affirming their worth and value in God’s eyes.
Like many families, the longer the pandemic has continued, the greater the number of conflicts between our children. The more children present, the exponential the conflicts. Words can be hurtful, and while we know they love their siblings, the increasing agitation wears on us.
How we do the Blessing
But these moments of blessing are significant. They often bring tears to my eyes. When we invite our family into this time of blessing, we pair up. We alternate the pairs each week and everyone takes part. One person places their hand on the other’s head and communicates words of blessing.
These aren’t long drawn out statements, but often words something like this: “God loves you and cares for you. I hope you remember that God smiles upon you.”
We have been missing the support of a church community in raising our children to follow Jesus. We miss the people who love our children and speak words of blessing to them. But I am grateful that this has been a season that has allowed to take on new practices and to slow down.
This time of blessing is not hard, but it works well because my wife and I model it. We take part in this and lead our children in what this should look like. And in those few moments, conflict has (mostly) ceased, and our children are pointing one another to Jesus.
And then we go back down the hill. The volume increases and the conflicts resume. But for a moment, we shared a blessing with one another. And in that moment, I find myself praying again the words of Psalm 78: “We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord.”