In cricketing terms, being the local vicar means you are committed to being an all-rounder. Not that you have to bat all the time, or open the bowling. You should, at least in theory, be part of the team, and there may be more able specialist players who can perform one or two particular tasks better than yourself. But from time to time you have to step up to the plate, no matter what the task in hand and be willing to put in a shift.
So today I am putting the final touches to tomorrow’s All-Age worship. I have to be honest and say that All-Age Worship falls outside my natural comfort zone. Ask me to prepare a sermon or lead a Bible study group and I am happy to rise to the challenge. But All-Age worship, that’s quite another matter. I find spend more time planning and preparing for this kind of service more than any other.
I think the reason for this is that you have to isolate one simple, dominant theme and stick with it. Not even a sentence but a word or brief phrase that’s easy to remember and to illustrate. To find that theme from all the content of a passage demands prayer and imagination and creativity. Sometimes that theme is clear, at other times it takes hard work digging it out.
And then when you have the theme you have to think how to apply it to all ages. I have always been clear that All-Age means just that. It is not just a children’s service in which grown-ups join in. Nor is it a grown-up service with a slot for the children. Getting the balance right is not easy and sometimes I know I get it wrong.
What about the material I have prepared for tomorrow? Well, by this time tomorrow I will know…