Today's guest reflector is our theological student, Sarah Lehman. 


“From my birth I have leaned upon you, my protector since my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.”
  (Ps. 71:6)

For years, I avoided children’s ministry. This did not go unnoticed by my discernment committee which boldfaced it as an “opportunity for growth”! And so, I’ve been leaning into work with children at St. John’s this year: story-telling, Family Feast, Lenten activities, and a lot of sprawling on the floor with trains and blocks and very small people at Tot Time. And – surprise! – I have found joy in it, in unexpected ways. And I have learned that children’s ministry is really family ministry.

Our role at Tot Time is simply to offer hospitality and to manifest the love of Christ as our youngest guests explore a safe and welcoming place: learning to walk, mastering the ups and downs of gravity and the emotional terrain of sharing. At first, I was troubled that Tot Time has no overtly religious component: no grace or Bible story or song. Surely we were setting the bar too low? Are we Anglicans too timid to speak Christ’s name?

But then… casual chats began with the mums, grannnies, and nannies for whom Tot Time is a lifeline for community-building – and for meaning-making. While the little ones explore, many of our adult guests are also exploring in their own ways, discovering that church can be a safe and protected and loving place  – and this is radical Good News! Attending Tot Time can be a brave thing in a secular place and time, especially for folks who have been wounded by the church or whose primary exposure to Christianity has been in the media. I’ve realized that their seemingly offhand questions about church teaching or about my pursuing vocation in my 50s aren’t actually offhand at all. These are trusting responses to the Holy Spirit’s urging in an atmosphere of palpable love and welcome: opening attempts to get to know more about God and the shared life of the Body of Christ.

On the surface, Tot Time is a fabulous, age-appropriate, safe opportunity for the under-fives. But, as I’ve discovered, Rev. Cameron and our amazing volunteers have done something even deeper: they have created a ministry where hospitality to little children teaches families about the essential loving nature of God and the work of Christ, preaching through action and deed in a way that words could never completely capture.