Laugh: noun chuckle, giggle, snigger, hoot, snort, cackle, chortle, guffaw, titter
Laughter is an equal opportunities activity. We all do it: children and adults, beggars and kings. Time and again the Bible promises that God’s people will laugh with God. Even those who weep now will laugh soon – not just the cynical laughter of revenge, but the innocent laughter of children. Laughter is one of God’s modes of judgement, and a sign of the kingdom breaking in. Nothing punctures the pomposity of power quite as effectively as a joke. Nothing celebrates the hope of liberation as powerfully as the joyful laughter of a child. Children know how to make adults laugh and they keep us hopeful with their humour. This year, children will remind us how to chuckle at ourselves and laugh with God in the Greenbelt Communion Service.
In the strange economy of God, children have exactly the same worth as adults. If anywhere can reflect this, it is Greenbelt. Yet we always find it hard to make it a reality – at Greenbelt, in the church and elsewhere. In the secular economy children are viewed as potential units of production. In the church they are often a problem to be solved or scalps to be won. But under God they instruct us, inspire us and lead us. Jesus gives children a special role in calling-out both the church and the culture. He uses children to disciple adults by helping them to look at themselves honestly, and especially by teaching them to laugh, love, play and discern.
That’s why we’re planning that the communion service at Greenbelt 2016 should be led from start to finish by children. Not a ‘children’s service’, or even an all-age or child-friendly service. It’s not even a service about children. Rather, it is a service led by children, and, as much as is practical, led from a child’s perspective, where we worship God together from that viewpoint.
Children will lead the liturgy, celebrate communion, pray, read the Bible and tell jokes. We will ask children to serve bread and wine to their circle groups. They will lead us in playing games in those groups and in dancing. In particular children will encourage and inspire us to recover a sense of joy, playfulness and hope.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has agreed that his “sermon” will take the form of answering questions posed by children as part of this service. We hope this whets yours whistle.
“God will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
If you’d like to nominate a child in your care or a child that you know who will be coming to Greenbelt to help lead the service, please follow this link and fill the form in online by Friday 10 June. Thank you.
Andrew Graystone, communion service writer