02 October 2012

"Thanks Be To God!"

We were sitting in worship a few weeks ago, and like every other Sunday, we were struggling to keep order in the front pew.  This is not a new development for us, but things have thankfully improved as our girls have grown.  Ainsley rarely requires anything more than the occasional nudge to be quiet: most of the time she's coloring or drawing or playing with her dolls.  Alanna, on the other hand, remains a handful.  She's an active little girl, can't read, doesn't understand much of what's being said in church and prefers to dance in the aisle during the hymns (side aisle, not the middle, and most folks smile broadly as she twirls around with her hands above her head).  The only time she gets really problematic is during the readings and prayers:  when she doesn't want to be quiet, she can be really not quiet.

So you can imagine my amazement when, on the Sunday in question, the following happened:
Lector:  readingreadingreadingreadingreadingreading.
             Word of God, word of life.
I still wish my little girl would sit still during the readings and the prayers.  I still wish we didn't have to throw crayons, paper, books, dolls, snacks and heaven knows what else at our girls to keep them from disrupting the worship experience.  But for one shining moment on a Sunday morning, I got a glimpse of something:  she's not ignoring what's going on around her.  She may not be buying in 100% just at the moment, but she knows what's happening.

I'm hoping that, in years to come, she might remember these early church years the way I remember them.  Sure, I hated church when I was four.  I had to wear clothes I couldn't get dirty, sit still for an hour, and I had no idea what was going on.  But I also remember learning to read by following along in the hymnal.  The first words I remember actively reading were the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed.  Ditto for learning to sing and to understand that those funny lines and shapes were music.  That didn't happen because my parents did anything magical or had some special technique for teaching me to read and sing.  That happened because, Sunday after Sunday, my parents girded up their loins, dressed us up and plopped our butts in the church pew.  I'm sure they were every bit as miserable as I was occasionally.  But considering where it all ended up, I'm glad they did, and I'd have to bet the folks we've served in ministry are glad as well.  Thanks be to God, indeed!

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