Summertime worship critical for children, teens

June 6, 2011 

Ah, summer. No school, no homework, no Little League, no bedtimes, no meetings, no rules, no church ...

Hold up. No church?

Today's families are busier than ever so, hopefully, summer provides a much-needed respite from the treadmill that is the school year. Students, teachers and parents are all staring eagerly at the calendar, knowing that while summer can get pretty busy, it holds a lot more fun than the daily grind of required reading, science fair projects and PTA meetings.

In this state of decompression, it's easy to let some things slide.

As a child, I have fond memories of being allowed to stay up late and eat nothing but ice cream for lunch. I think these were valuable lessons in time management -- that when your work is done, it's completely legitimate to take a break from bedtimes and the food pyramid.

The one thing we never took a break from, though, was attending church on Sunday mornings (or Saturday nights, since Team Catholic offers that option).

Even when we were traveling, my parents would plan ahead and figure out where we'd attend church, wherever that would be. I don't know how they did this without Google or a GPS, but they managed.

This taught me an important lesson in time management. Some things you can take a break from, but others are non-negotiable. My parents' efforts to keep God at the center of our schedules -- even when we were taking a break from everything else -- didn't earn them any "cool points" when I was a teenager (in fact, I'm sure there was a lot of eye-rolling involved), but it taught me and my siblings what was important.

"Keep holy the Lord's day" (Exodus 20:8-11) is not a guideline -- it is a commandment to set aside this day to worship God. Worship reminds us that God created us, loves us and is calling us to be with him forever in heaven. God doesn't need us to do this, but we need to worship him to remember who we are -- created by him, who will end up spending eternity either in heaven with him or in hell. Observing Sunday as the Lord's day, reminds us that this world is not all there is and that we must live with eternity in mind.

I spend a lot of time traveling with kids in the summer and I know that motivating them -- or at times, even forcing them -- to go to church is not easy. However, I know from personal experience that instilling these habits in children and teenagers will be a lifeline for them when they leave home.

There are certainly still Sunday mornings when I don't feel like getting out of bed. However, worship on Sunday, a habit that was instilled in me as a child and teenager, continues to be a foundation for me as an adult.

It reminds me what is important when life gets overwhelming.

Parents, while school is out this summer, don't miss an opportunity to teach one of life's most important lessons: to keep holy the Lord's day.

It's as critical as math or reading for success in the future.

Alison Griswold is the director of youth ministry at St. Francis By the Sea Catholic Church. Follow her on Twitter @alisongriz. Read her blog at www.teamcatholic.blogspot.com.

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