Remind me why I go to church?
Today we got to church and were only six minutes late for Sunday School, which is not late for class, since there’s this singalong thing in the beginning. The reason we were late at all is because my middle son had wanted to bring the artwork he had begun creating so he’d have something to do during the church service before he left for “Jr. Church.” Well, in all the pandemonium of getting out the door, which results from my kids ignoring my twenty-minute warning and my ten-minute warning, and trying to cram their tooth-brushing, shoes-on, hair plastered to their heads (because they refuse to maintain their buzzcuts and are now dealing with the resulting bedhead), and accessory gathering into two minutes after I issued their final warning — he lost the pencil he was using.
I ushered my other two out to the car and prepared to deal with my middle son who had thrown himself face down on the couch. His day was “ruined.”
Another pencil would not do, it had to be THAT pencil.
I don’t remember how I got him into the car, but I made sure he was in the wayback, far away from the other two.
Once we arrived, I had to pull him out. Lo and behold, didn’t I spy THAT pencil, sticking out of his pocket. That didn’t stop him from flopping himself face down on the couch in the fellowship hall rather than participating in the singalong, he had shifted into morose mode. My oldest was apparently too cool for that now (at age 8) and parked himself on a bench next to Grandma, who teaches fifth-grade Sunday School. My youngest headed into the unattended nursery.
I spent the hour between 9:00 and 10:00 arguing with my youngest about going to class. He didn’t want to go. He wanted to play in the nursery. I told him the nursery is for babies and there were no grownups in it anyway; he’d have to wait until after class and then he could go. He told me he wanted to be a baby, he wanted to wear diapers again, and he wanted his lovey (which he assured me as we were leaving the house, could stay behind, he’d be all set with just his dog. I should know better). He insisted we go home. I told him “sure, we’ll go home after church.” (How was I going to fit that trip to the supermarket in?)
He cried for about ten minutes, as I held him and rocked him. I sent the Bigs up to church to sit with Grandma. My oldest had a red balloon that he was inflating and deflating repeatedly (annoying but fortunately silent). My middle was happy to be working on his drawing again. How his attitude transformation occurred I do not know, I am just grateful it did.
When my youngest took my advice to put his thumb in his mouth, we went upstairs to the sanctuary. I can’t say now what was the theme of church or what the sermon was about. I know we talked about a world mission offering and Jesus washing his disciples feet. I remember one of the hymns. Mostly I sat there wondering why I even bother to take my kids to church?
But I know the answer. It’s what we do on Sundays. It’s so that when they get older they will know how to take communion and why we do it. It’s so they will know there’s a place they can go where people know their names, where they are loved. It’s so they’ll know the songs we sing and the stories in the Bible.
I can’t imagine that one day when they are ten and up I’d start bringing them to church and expect them to sit still for an hour or two and like it, or have any clue about what’s going on, or want to be there more than their Sunday morning football practice (the reason we don’t play football is that they practice and play on Sundays).
Thankfully, our religious education director always seems to find a way to put it in perspective for me. She’s “been there, done that” and nothing surprises her. She makes me feel normal. She understands me. Even if the only reason I went to church was to have that cup of coffee and conversation with her, it was worth it.