Intergenerational Advent Worship

In a previous blog, I wrote about my thoughts on planning an intergenerational worship, a worship that isn’t about being kid-friendly, but about worship for all ages to participate at their comfort and ability level. I’ve been playing around with the concept for a while, but never completely satisfied with the outcome. For one, the church I serve is traditional, historic and yet full of young families and people of all ages.

This last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent. Traditionally, we have had a Christmas pageant, which never went well. Last year, I attempted for the first time an intergenerational worship, which overall went well, but I felt I tried to put too much into one worship. This time, I kept it simple, thoughtful, and worked with the choir director to integrate music that would be both beautiful and interactive. You can view pics here.

Here are three main highlights of worship that got the most buzz from the congregation:

Worship Space

Usually, the pews are in slightly diagonal rows leading up to the chancel. The pews were moved into a round, which created an intimate yet safe worshipping atmosphere. First-time visitors could still sit in the back if they felt more comfortable to do so and not feel pressured to be too close.

Families with young kids can sit anywhere and yet still feel close to their kids if they choose to wander around. The round provided space in the middle for kids to hang out and draw, craft, or be closer to the “action.” Butcher paper was taped to the floor for kids to doodle and draw, as well as a coloring table.

One Theme

With the help of the choir director, we interwove music and scripture together. The choir did a mixture of call and response, leading the congregation in music, and doing more complicated pieces. Some of the kids were ready and willing to read scripture as well.

One of the pieces that the choir sang was “Choose Something like a Star”, a poem by Robert Frost and music arranged by Randall Thompson.

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud —
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

Afterward, stars and markers were passed out and as I read the poem again, the congregation reflected on what they seek or need guidance for as we approach Christmas day. After they wrote it on their star, they were invited to pin it on the ribbon mobile which hung in the middle of the sanctuary on a pulley system. This allowed the mobile to hang high during worship and then be lowered for the interactive activity.

Something to Look Forward to

After worship, we set up a hot cocoa bar. Whether you are an adult or a kid, everyone loves hot chocolate. It was a big hit for all.

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