Monday, June 23, 2008

Social Canada - Going through the gate

CanadaIn a previous post, I talked about the way services are celebrated in the United Church of Canada. Basically, I discussed how relaxed and informal they can be; it's not unusual at all to have the ministers cracking jokes even during the sermons.
One of the parts that the congregation enjoys -and makes me sweat- the most is when the children come forward for the learning time. There aren't too many kids in our congregation these days, at least not too many that come regularly. My kids are among those who normally grace the place with their colourful presence, and that's why I sweat.
There's nothing better than watching Juan and Carolina raise their hands before the minister asks a question. It's just that you never know what are they going to say... I remember one time when Carolina started to talk about caterpillars and butterflies... on Good Friday! Reverend Jack was smart -and quick!- enough to turn that into a metaphor of death and resurrection, but we're not always that lucky! :-)
After the learning time, those kids that are over the age of four go to Sunday school, and the little ones to the Nursery. In the past, there would be a special celebration when those kids who were about to turn five would walk through a gate, which symbolized the transition from Nursery to Sunday school (or from 'toddler' to 'kid'). This was a huge tradition back in the '20s and '30s, and I've seen pictures with tens of 4 year olds posing as they were getting ready to go. Luckily, they decided to bring this tradition back this year, and they had pretty much everybody between 4 and 9 years old going through the gate during the service, with all the proud parents watching from the back.
It was lovely to see Florencia go so determined and outgoing as ever, and then get her own Kid's Bible, as well as all the other kids. To our surprise, Juan also got to go through, as it was time for him to get a 'big boys' Bible as well!
En un post anterior hablaba acerca de la forma en que los servicios son celebrados en la Iglesia Unida de Canada. Básicamente, comentaba cuán relajados e informales pueden ser; no es para nada raro ver a los ministros haciendo bromas, incluso durante los sermones.
Una de las partes que más disfruta la congregación -y que a mí me hace sudar tinta- es cuando los chicos se acercan para el 'tiempo de aprendizaje'. No tenemos muchos niños en la congregación estos días, al menos no muchos que vengan a los servicios regularmente. Mis hijos estan entre esos que nos iluminan con su presencia, y es por eso que sudo.
Nada mejor que ver a Juan y Carolina levantar sus manos antes de que el ministro haga una pregunta. Nunca se sabe qué es lo que va a salir de sus bocas... Recuerdo una vez en que Carolina se 'colgó' hablando de las orugas y las mariposas... en la misa de Viernes Santo! El reverendo Jack fue lo suficientemente inteligente -y rápido!- para transformar eso en una metáfora sobre la muerte y resurección, pero no siempre tenemos tanta suerte! :-)
Luego del momento de aprendizaje, los niños mayores de cuatro años se van a la escuela dominical, mientras el resto va a la guardería. Hace años, nuestra congregación tenía un rito muy especial en el que los niños que estaban por cumplir cinco años pasaban por una puerta, que simbolizaba la transición del Nursery a la escuela dominical (o de 'bebé grande' a 'niño'). Esta era una tradición muy importante allá por los '20s y '30s, y he visto fotos con decenas de niños de cuatro años posando mientras se preparaban para el rito. Por suerte, han decidido traer esta tradición de vuelta este año, así que casi todos los niños de entre cuatro y nueve años de edad pasaron por el portoncito durante la misa, mientras los orgullosos padres mirábamos desde atrás.
Fue hermoso verla a Florencia ir tan determinada y extrovertida como siempre, y luego recibir su propia 'Biblia para niños', como los demás. Para nuestra sorpresa, Juan también tuvo que cumplir con el rito, porque le tocaba recibir su 'Biblia para niños grandes'!
Thur the Gates
Do you see how many of them there were back in the '20s?
Ven cuántos habían allá por los años 20?
Here comes my beautiful daughter, 'shy' as usual...
Aquí viene mi hermosa hija, tan 'tímida' como siempre...
Juan had to duck, because he was way too big for this gate! :-)
Juan se tuvo que agachar porque era muy grandote para esta puerta! :-)
Of course, those two beautiful girls are twins... but there's more!
Por supuesto, esas hermosísimas nenas son gemelas... pero hay más!
Graduating Class 2008 
The girls third, fourth and sixth from the left... are triplets! :-)
Las niñas que aparecen en tercer, cuarto y sexto lugar desde la izquierda... son trillizas! :-)
All pictures are by Ken Summers.
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  1. What a cool tradition for the kids. They all look so cute up there. While I do have some very fond memories of church and Sunday school when I was young, we had nothing like that...It seemed to me that church was boring and for the old people. (I actually taught Sunday School to the preschoolers and they were always the most fun)

  2. LOL. What are you doing up at 2:30 AM? Oh, wait, so am I! :-)I better not talk about my own experience with church as a child. I don't know why, but it seems that almost every church I went to in ARG was a big, cold, dark, lugubrious place. Services were mostly somber, and mostly about guilt. We would sing the same songs almost every week, and I never got to learn them. When I got back to ARG after my father's death, I actually went to an 'in memoriam' service on a Thursday night. It was so cold and sad that I really wanted to run away. Luckily, my cousin was there, and she invited me to join her at her choir rehearsal, so I ended the evening singing, which was a much more fitting tribute to my dad than all that sadness.I think I digress, though.

  3. I was up until nearly 3:30 last night..One of those nights - but I guess it was for you, too. I liked some of the songs that we sang back in the day at our lil church. It holds alot of fond memories for me, that little Lutheran Church. My parents were married there, all of my girls were christened there and Rudi and I were married there....I taught most of my little cousins, took them to Nithview to sing to the elderly.... Still, the services were mostly somber,and my parents were so involved in the church - my Dad was a lay minister, that it seemed like a never ending torture to be there every Sunday. Now, I wish that I could go back. Funny, isn't it? I'm glad that you had a chance to sing for your father. I think that it is important to celebrate the life of a loved one... When my Dad died, on July 11 th, we sang Silent Night. It was his favourite song and it made me smile to see all of the confused faces in the church when we sang that during a heat wave. My Dad would have loved that :)

  4. Nice post. On thing though. Before you post pictures you should get permission from the parents. We wouldn't want Meaghan to become the new 'Star Wars Kid' or the 'Numa Numa Girl'. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. . . .

  5. I did, smart butt, and that's why I waited for so long until I posted the pictures. I have all the e-mails, and I will show them to you once I get home.Nobody will take the 'Numa boy' title from you, Santi.

  6. I love the idea of getting kids involved like this! Juan and Florencia look so proud in these pictures! I have good memories from church but it was in High School but of course... No blog in those times! By the way, can you tell us about the 'numa boy'?

  7. hi Gabriel, .. seems like a nice experience to share with the family..what amazes me the most is the attention that twins and triplets.. gets from everybody around.. (I'm a proud mother of 3 year old identical twins).. for me is no diffreent than a family of 3 4 kids.. (and i survived LOL)if you wanna laugh with me see this web page where I am one of the team and spanish only)saludos,


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