Our family ventured out to church this past Sunday. This has been a push/pull struggle for us for a while, and we often don’t make it there. It is a combination of a number of factors, and though it is clearly something that is theologically important to our family, it can logistically be a nightmare. But a dear friend of ours was preaching, and things lined up well for us to make it there. I’m glad we did.
As we lay in bed that night, my husband and I were recounting the day together. We both had similar feelings about church: We feel blessed to sit side by side our little ones in worship. Both of our little ones are getting a bit older, and both did a bit better about sitting in a pew for an hour and twenty minutes or so. It makes the experience just a bit better for us, then, too. One of the struggles we so often have about church is that we want our little ones to truly be a part of the whole thing. Not relegated to the back, not encouraged to play in the nursery, but to experience the mystery of church. To be welcomed as a part of the Body, and not just any part, but an important part. At our Main Line church we are often swimming upstream on this one. Luckily the service we attend can be lively, and their sometimes not-so-subtle presence can be tucked under the harmonies and pulses of bass and drum. Both the little ones are entranced with the music. They are drawn into the mystery of the words, the posture of the people. They awe at the altar; they listen to the prayers. They proudly join us a we receive communion and eagerly lean forward to receive their blessing. They may not understand a lot of what goes on, but the language is beginning to be familiar to them. Both of my little ones add their voices to the Lord’s prayer. They enter into worship in their own child-like wonder and I know that God blesses them and teaches them there, too. I hope, too, that after my little ones have participated in worship, side-by-side with someone who may not have expected to see such little ones there, that we have helped others remember Jesus’ words: “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom” (Matthew 19:14).
The challenge that God left in my heart that morning was about claiming my blessings, and owning up to my own blessedness. We discussed what it might mean for me to be given the keys to the kingdom, as Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 16. These beautiful babes that I have, these little ones who so earnestly seek His presence — this is my piece of the kingdom right now. God has called me to raise them up to Him, and He has blessed me to do it right by Him. I am thankful that I am not alone in this, but have a kingdom-community worshipping, living and growing side-by-side my whole blessed family.