Sunday School Prizegiving – in the olden days of my childhood when prizes, in the form of books, were given out towards the end of June. Stuck to the first page on the inside would be a label with your name together with an analysis of your attendance, using such words as “Perfect”, “Very Good” or “Good”.
By the time I became a minister, the principles behind Prizegiving for the children and young people had changed. It was acknowledged that attendance was usually dependent on the parents and, equally importantly, the presentation of gifts was a means by which the grownups could thank the youngsters for their participation in congregational life. Gifts which were not necessarily books – another wake-up call, namely that not all children enjoy reading.
To celebrate the Year of Young People in 2018, the children and teenagers of St Andrew’s prepared and led the morning service. It was so well received that the decision was taken to make this an annual event towards the end of the session. At last year’s service there was also a baptism, attended by a large number of guests, many of whom commented favourably on the active participation (and confidence) of the young people.
Following tradition, the Family Service with the Nativity was also led by the Seekers and, lockdown permitting, the “June” service can be held later this year.
The Seekers are generally of secondary school age and though small in number, huge in enthusiasm and influence. The veil of poppies outside on the Terrace for Remembrance, the collections of small change for various charities and the creation of a flowerbed in the Wyvern Garden are all fairly recent events which were initiated by the Seekers and supported by the wider congregation.
Given that the usual date for this year’s Prizegiving falls within the lockdown, the Seekers’ leaders decided on using Royal Mail rather than have the young people miss out.
Each one received a parcel – no congregational applause, but a tangible reminder that they are remembered and valued.
I’m glad that the days of books for perfect attendance are no longer in vogue: not because I never attained those heights but rather because our Lord does not require us to be perfect.
Let’s pray together:
God our Father
Thank you that by your grace from heaven and by means of the Church on earth
we are all part of one big family
- all ages, all stages of the Christian journey
Today we give thanks especially for the children and young people
who belong to our fellowship
In truth we are all young in your sight
lacking in wisdom, prone to making the wrong decisions, self-centred sometimes
but one thing we know – you love us and will never abandon us
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Friend and Brother
who promised that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age