Not Just For Grown-ups

This morning we attended at the Episcopal Church in our neighborhood where I was a member before I married S. I always enjoy going there, seeing people I know and how much the children have grown. It’s good there in many ways, but in some ways I think I’ve grown beyond that church, and that makes any visit bitter-sweet.? The other thing is that there are so few children there and the young ones are mostly down in nursery for most of the service (up to age four or five). We do put W in nursery until after the sermon, but the big kinder stay with us, and we try to help them participate in the service as much as possible, with varying degrees of success.

Today the Old Testament lesson was the familiar tale of Moses in the Bulrushes, and I have to admit I didn’t get too much out of the sermon, because today was one of those days when the children were just having trouble being still. At one point F had to be taken out for some discipline, and I was feeling pretty worn out by the end of the service. As we were slowly filing out after the service, an older gentleman, who is kind of the patriarch of the church stopped to say “hello” to the children as he does every week. He greeted them and then turned to me “I am so glad to see you working with them in church. We need witnesses.” he said.

I murmured something about “too much energy”

“Yes,” he said, ” but they’re here and that’s important.

“Church isn’t just for grown-ups.” I replied (something I believe but wasn’t really feeling right then.)

“No, it’s for all of us all of our lives, and the children need to be here.” he said and walked on to speak to the next person.

What an encouragement! He is more than eighty years old, and he and his wife are faithfully attending and making Christ clear in their lives these many years. If he says it is worth doing, I can see from his life that it is.

I’ll remember that this week. God knows I needed to hear? just that today.


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6 Responses to Not Just For Grown-ups

  1. Jen says:

    Sometimes it’s so hard to keep them engaged in the service and so I let them color on the little color sheets. But, you know, sometimes I also think that perhaps they are pick ing up on far more than I visibly observe. This man’s encouragement was one I needed to hear, too. I am so glad you shared it today.

    • K_Steinmann says:

      It is. One of the advantages of a church that uses a lectionary of readings is that I know the texts ahead of time and can copy things from them into their notebooks, for them to trace and read or draw pictures of. I try to remember to ask questions about the service and Sunday School later in the day too as that encourages them to listen…K

  2. I’m so glad you’ve posted this. I teach religious education~1st grade~and so many of the parents will drop off their kids for Sunday School, but skip Mass. They just don’t want to deal with the energy you mentioned. It doesn’t help that some people give parents the evil-eye when their children are being a bit disruptive. Teaching these little ones has opened my eyes to how important it is for them to be attending church with their families.

    God bless your 80 year-old friend and you!

    • K_Steinmann says:

      Children learn so much more by example than they do by being told. There is a big difference between “We as a family go to church.” and “I get dropped off for Sunday School”. Children do notice and can learn to interact well with the service although some days will not be easy. Of course a big piece of it is a cultural shift away from teaching children the self-discipline to sit still and be quiet. And many young parents now don’t have a good example that it is even possible for children to do that much less an idea of how you would train for that…K

  3. Angela says:

    Children need to be in church so they can see their parents and other adults worshiping God. It can be hard for many parents when other adults dont understand. Some are even rude and say there is a foyer for a reason. (I have experience this because of my younger brothers.) Some people just dont understand “Let the little children come to me”. 🙁

    • K_Steinmann says:

      Children need to be in church so they can worship God with their families and faith communities. I think though that people who think the children should be taken out do have a point if the child is disruptive and is not being trained at home for how to behave in public. Sadly many parents weren’t given such training themselves as small children and although they would like their own children to behave in church, they may not even realize that it is possible to train them, or know where they should start. The church community needs to work together to teach the children to participate in the life of the community which includes worshiping God together….K

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