Children enjoy â€˜Blessing of the Toys'
Christmas 2010 was the first time children experienced a "Blessing of the Toys" at Grace United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Ala.
"I was trying to think of a way to really make the service warm and wonderful for kids," said the Rev. Steve West, "and I thought it would be a nice way to get them excited for coming" to worship.
Announcing the event a couple of weeks in advance, West encouraged children to choose their favorite, non-scary, non-noise-making toy to bring on the Sunday morning after Christmas.
"They brought them up for our customary time," West said. "We talked about gift-giving and its roots in the homage the Three Kings paid to Jesus. Then we had prayer."
West wrote the simple liturgy* used for the blessing.
"The kids thought it was a neat experience," said Beth Brannen, children's director at Grace. "They thought it was pretty cool to have their toys blessed."
"Parents thought it was unusual, but very special," West said. "Several parents thanked me because it was a way of bringing the joy of their home celebrations into our worship experience. "
Christmas lands on Sunday this year â€” even more reason for West to offer the "Blessing of the Toys" at the church he is now serving, Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
"It's a special way to celebrate with the kids and to recognize that the holiness of God becomes incarnate in the simplest of ways, like the joy of playing with a toy with others."
Diane G. H. Kilmer
*Read and download the "Blessing of the Toys" liturgy.
At A GLANCE Grace United Methodist Church | 2113 Old Monrovia Rd., Huntsville, AL 35806 | (256) 430-0003 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.graceumchsv.org | Rev. Bryan Sisson, senior pastor | Average Worship Attendance: 231 | North Alabama Conference