The following short act of worship is an attempt to make space for children’s experiences of loss and sadness due to the disruption of the pandemic to be expressed within the context of the worshipping community. This may function as short, stand–alone act of worship either in a parish church or in a school at the start of the new school year. Alternatively, portions of what is suggested here may be incorporated into a regular Sunday morning service, for example, prior to the children being released to continue their worship at Sunday Club.
While we may hope for a return to our normal pattern of gathering in our churches, we also acknowledge that there is uncertainty as to what the situation may be. This act of worship deliberately leaves reference to place ambiguous and may also be suitable for use by Sunday schools continuing to meet remotely.
If advance preparation is possible, a number of children and adults may be invited to speak some of what has been difficult due to the disruption caused by the pandemic in the past year. A child may prefer to draw their experiences and have an adult they trust share the meaning behind their picture. Someone else may want to share what kept them going through their sadness – and show a plant from their garden or a breathing technique that calmed them. Explore what is possible here.
Invite the wider church family to engage in deep listening to the experiences of others so we can grow and heal together.
If advance preparation has not been possible, all present might be given a few moments to write or draw a short prayer expressing sadness and lament. These could be written on post–it notes and added to a notice board so that the person leading the service may read some aloud. Those who do not wish for their prayer to be read aloud can place their prayers face down below the noticeboard.
The congregation may engage in a symbolic action, for example taking small stones representing their sadness and placing them beneath a cross.
If the context is one in which very few children would normally be present, then grandparents, teachers or other adults may be invited to share something of the sadness they have felt for the children in their lives and the wider community.