Clifton-Soderstrom, Michelle, and David Bjorlin. Incorporating Children in Worship: Mark of the Kingdom

Review for the Child Theology Movement Web site, 21.09.2017
Clifton-Soderstrom, Michelle, and David Bjorlin. Incorporating Children in Worship: Mark of the Kingdom. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014

In his forward, the United Methodist Bishop, William H Willimon of Duke Divinity School writes:”Some of the most revolutionary, counter-cultural statements that Jesus made were about children…in the realm of God, helpless, dependent, vulnerable, of marginalized children are at the centre, the point of Incarnation.”
The authors share this unequivocal and enthusiastic conviction regarding the significance of children in our understanding and experience of church life and mission:
” God’s saving history would look radically different without children; to the point that it would not be recognizable as Christianity.”
The particular focus of their study is to address what they identify as an ecclesially debilitating lack of scholarly treatments of the “… critical intersection of children and worship” and do so through an interdisciplinary study of the Lutheran concept of ‘marks’ or Spirit effected and characteristic signs of God Kingdom in the believer.
Drawing upon the fields of theology, liturgy, ethics and particularly what they identify as a distinctive Lukan treatment of children, they “…contend that incorporating children is a powerful and overlooked mark of the kingdom that signifies not only a vibrant faithful communion but also offers a critical window into the Spirit’s work of linking the church to Christ.”
Whilst the Trinitarian discussion of the relationship between the child and the worshiping community is not for the faint-hearted, it does represent a serious and creative addition to study that genuinely seeks to let children, and their crucial role in God’s saving history, bring fresh perspectives to a fundamental aspect of church life: “…the particular activity that forms Christians for the work of the kingdom, or God’s mission…worship.”

Stuart Christine, Manchester UK Sept 2017

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