On Sunday, I got up from the pew refreshed and full…like when you get up from a good meal where you are fed the food that you like to savor in the quantity you need.
There is something to be said for this “family” way of doing church. Where we sit at least part of the time together. My inclination is to describe it as conventional, the way things used to be…but how did we ever get away from that? It’s the way I was churched. And it could still be that most places include families but I just haven’t seen. However, I have been to churches as an adult where there wasn’t an expectation that even junior high kids could make it through a service. I heard a leader remark, “They’re in junior high. They can’t be expected to sit still. It’s too boring for them.” What? How else do we learn…but by doing it. Samara and I are reading through the “Little House” series. In the first book, “Little House in the Big Woods”, I think it’s explained how the grandfather, as a little boy, would be in insurmountable trouble if he moved his EYES from the preacher, let alone any other part of his body. Can you imagine?
All of the churches we have visited here do not staff the nursery. It is like an understanding and unsaid expectation that even your littlest will be in the church service with you…even through the preaching. (Ethan sits with us the whole time) The “nursery” room is for those exceptional weeks when the kid has just had “too much” and is being “too distracting” that you, the mother, goes and sits with them there. But “too distracting” is a subjective term. No one stares, glares, or even turns their head when a child speaks out, plays, or starts climbing to wherever they think they’re going. (This mother in front of us on Sunday could not keep her tiny little boy from going underneath the chairs and crawling around- but no one seemed bothered…neither was the mother distracted with extensive disciplinary action, shushing or taking him out.) It’s all part of being all together in church. It’s part of doing it together. It’s wonderful.
Samara and Sela are always relieved when children’s church is called and they are dismissed. And to be honest, so are Robb and I. It calms everything down for us and we can just sit and not have to manage little people as well. But I wouldn’t trade this time as we cherish togetherness, learning and chaos over preserving the space we think we need to make it sacred.
So, Samara and Sela are in the service. They are squirrely, squirmy, fidgety and not whispery. But they are learning…what is a church service? What is expected of them? To sit still enough and to be quiet enough. I don’t expect their little hearts at this point to be reverent in prayer or to understand all of the joy and love that can come from singing in worship. But they are getting it…what it means to be a part of our family and the body of Christ, what is important to Robb and I and the how to-s of collectively worshipping and learning together. That everyone belongs there. Come to think of it, this is what I’m learning through it as well…