Monday, June 6, 2016

This article popped up in my facebook newsfeed this morning and brought back many memories.
It's hard, and although I never got a concussion wrestling my children, there were many moments of feeling as if I'd never again worship without MANY distractions or without worrying about disturbing EVERYONE around us. I'm not sure folks look at our kids now sitting (mostly) quiet and (mostly) involved in worship understand the consistent struggle of the early years. We learned not to sit near those adults/teens with ADD, who might turn around frequently as we wrestled in the pew with our kid, not to add to their distraction. We assumed the best intentions and understood they didn't despise our children but truly struggled to remain engaged in worship themselves. There were friends we learned not to sit near (our kids + their kids = total chaos). 
 We learned (slowly) to prepare our kids (and ourselves) for worship on Saturday.  We spent the time needed to look at online bulletins ahead of time, sing unfamiliar hymns/psalms/spiritual songs, read the scripture and pray for the preaching and the service.  Mostly, we learned that God created us to worship and that our worship is important. I learned that worship is not about me, I am not the audience of worship. 

Our youngest playing in the nursery, outside on the playground and even having catechism club, although wonderful things, wasn't teaching our kids to worship. Granted, this was not planned but forced when our oldest aged out and then shortly after, our Children's church lost leaders and no one stepped up to continue the program. Sometimes church programs reach their organic end and we learn a bit painfully or bitterly.  Our first church services with our kids, and everyone else's, beside us left me frustrated and a little angry that children's church had died a natural death.  I was especially concerned about the Moms already struggling carrying in the car seat and holding onto toddlers while Dad was deployed.  I struggled with the weary single parents bone tired from parenting alone.  I wanted for them hands-free time to enjoy fellowship and be fed.  But, we kept on Sunday to Sunday. And one Sunday to the next, we would hear our kids humming the songs we had sung, asking questions about what they had heard in the sermon or why baby Charlie had gotten baptized, why the older teenage Ben was standing near the pulpit to become a communing member of our church, why Mr. Phil had gotten baptized with his young children. (Our church performs infant and new believer's baptism).  The questions of why they couldn't have the bread and grape juice/wine, just yet.  

We began to understand that we are to teach our children to worship and that cannot be done apart from them being in the pews... we brought bags of composition books, urged them instead of drawing superheroes or Disney princesses, to draw images that the sermon brought to their imaginations.  We snuggled and our youngest slept often in morning and evening services... snoring softly.  We snuggled others' babies...we began sitting near those Momas whose husbands were deployed.  We sat with those left when someone had to be taken out for discipline, or a potty break, or a drink of water. We became a church family dependent on each other.  We helped our children serve the littler ones in our midst.  We were able to see the beautiful legacy of faith in all the saints of all ages gathered together for worship.  I can now say, I am thankful for the death of our children's church in that particular place and time.  

"Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). The faith that was delivered to our predecessors is the same faith now being entrusted to us. While it’s possible to pick up bad habits from tradition, it’s also possible that tradition will guard us from falling into error. When novel teachings arise in the church, their very novelty can be a warning: If no one’s ever thought or done this before, is it wise for us to start now?"

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