One of the first things we do upon entering the children’s church room every Sunday is let the youth offer up concerns or celebrations that they would like to pray for. There are some things that make it up every week without fail. Safe travels, even when no one in particular is going anywhere, is always at the top of the list. Animals, stuffed and non-stuffed, never get left out either. We usually get a nice variety of family members and friends who have been unwell, and some fun things that are happening soon that the children want to share.
Today we had a new one. When asked what else they would like to pray for, one boy said, “Dead people. I have no idea why I just said that. It just popped into my head.”
I was immediately intrigued. As we approach the time of year when many cultures around the world are celebrating those who have died in the past year and ancestors even longer separated from this mortal coil, one of the children just busts out that we should pray for dead people. In response, and I think he thought I was going to respond less than favorably to this, I asked if he was familiar with the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. He had heard a little, but another of the children was much more well-versed on the matter and she filled him in.
Because our focus is to let the students lead the discussions, we’ll be focusing these next two or three Sundays on celebrating ancestors. We are exploring some ideas of building our own version of an ofrenda for our deceased loved ones. This will go perfectly with the conversations we’ve had about altars as well.
A child’s intuition is something to be nurtured and encouraged. There was a chance that the request to pray for dead people could have been met with some negative response. Some might have thought he was trying to be funny. Some might have wanted to shy away from the topic of death with children. We, though, are just excited to learn together about something that is on the hearts and minds of a lot of people around the world at this time of year. The celebration of lives lived and lived well. The celebration of our ancestors.