The Milestones in Our Lives
“My soul magnifies the Lord,” Luke 1:46
As we welcome a new child into a family and into our faith community, we celebrate the gift of new life together. Along with Mary as she welcomes Jesus, our souls “magnify the Lord.” Families receive tools to help them cherish each child as a beloved child of God. Families are encouraged to begin a bedtime ritual of a blessing, prayer or song. Parents explore ways to nurture their own spirits as they tend to the needs of a young child.
Using such potent symbols as water, oil, and fire, Baptism is a powerful sacrament that gives us a new identity, connects us to a new community of believers, initiates us into a life of faith marked by healing, wholeness, meaning and purpose. Baptism has meaning on many levels. It draws to mind the Biblical narrative in which Moses led the Hebrews on their escape from Egypt and how he parted the waters of the Red Sea as the gateway to liberation, away from slavery and into the Promised Land. Baptism symbolizes our relationship with God through Jesus' death and Resurrection.
“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,” Psalm 139:14
At this Milestone, we celebrate the amazing growth the child has made in the first years of life. They’ve begun walking and talking, and at age three, the child is making a transition from being a “baby” to a “big kid!” At this Milestone, children learn the Lord’s Prayer and the doxology. Families receive tools to help them name and celebrate the child’s unique gifts and personality. Families are encouraged to develop prayer rituals for family meals and bedtime.
“ Let the children come to me." Matthew 19:14
At this Milestone, we celebrate the child’s growing independence and widening social circle. Children are invited to participate fully in worship at Olivet, and they learn the parts of the worship service. As the child is away from home more often, families receive tools to help children remember God’s loving presence even when away from home. Families are encouraged to develop a morning ritual and an evening sharing time.
“The child grew and became strong in Spirit” Luke 1:80
At this Milestone, we celebrate the child’s blossoming abilities and skills and love of learning. Each child is encouraged to ask questions, to learn and to develop his or her unique gifts. Children receive the gift of a Bible from the congregation, learn the overarching narrative of the Bible and develop skills for using the Bible independently. Parents are encouraged to develop rituals for Biblical reflection at home.
“All who heard him were amazed at his understanding” Luke 2:47
At this Milestone, we celebrate a new leap in independence, as the child moves into young adulthood. The congregation supports this transition with the Our Whole Lives curriculum, to help each young person develop a strong sense of self and to become comfortable with the physical and emotional changes taking place. Young people are encouraged to ask questions and express doubts as they explore the Christian faith. Families are encouraged to give the young person new independence in making choices, and to incorporate daily reflection to help the young person discern, “What is God saying to me today?”
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:27
At this Milestone, we officially welcome the young person as a full member of the Body of Christ and a member of the congregation. As the young person enters high school, the congregation supports the transition into adulthood by encouraging the young person to explore his or her unique identity. Each young person develops an individualized “Growing in Faith Plan,” which includes ways to be nurtured in God’s Spirit, to be supported in the faith community, and to share his or her unique gifts as they bear fruit in the world. Throughout high school, the young person is accompanied by a mentor who provides support and guidance.
“Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9
At this Milestone, we walk with families as the young person enters adulthood. Families are encouraged to look back at the blessings and challenges of the young person’s life thus far, to cherish the moments together, and to look forward to the young person’s future and unique calling. The young person marks the Milestone within the congregation by affirming his or her identity in faith. This may be expressed in a way that is fitting for the young person’s identity. It may be a sermon, a musical offering, or even a Sunday School lesson presented to the children.