I realize that children in worship is a contentious point in many congregations. Strike many and substitute most. When my children were young I desperately wanted to sing in the choir but I hestitated...sure they could go to nursery to a point but then I felt guilty. Until one day an elderly lady in our congregation came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed seeing my smiling face in the choir. She mentioned that she knew I was struggling (although it had to be from Divine perception as I hadn't discussed it with anyone) with leaving my little ones in nursery. Then she asked one of the most beautiful questions I've ever heard (did I mention everyone KNEW what a loving heart she had?)..."My grandchildren are so far away, would you mind if they sat with me while you are in the choir?"
They did, and learned that the vows that the congregation made to nurture them in their faith were not just words. They got to see me do something for God that I loved (and both joined the Adult Choir at 12), and this lovely woman of God had the joy of young people sitting on either side of her.
I believe in children in church...so does this person...
You are doing something really, really important.
I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know
you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.
I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling
the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you
wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your
bag of tricks to try to quiet them.
And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you
cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that
might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper. I hear the
exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.
I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know
you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are
doing is so important.
When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you
are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here,
we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or
personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a
community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and
Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t
be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship.I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.
I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles,
in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of
crumbs I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share
peace with someone she’s never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite
loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup determined
not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and
point to the one in the front of the sanctuary. I hear the echos of
Amens just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it
together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words
in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I
can’t see my own children learning because, well, it’s one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.
I know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but I want you to know, it matters.
It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew.
It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith,
to see young people… and even on those weeks when you can’t see the
little moments, it matters to your children.
this is the link...