Sunday morning made me smile this past week, and at this point, it takes a bit to make these lips curve in an upward fashion (I don’t care who says it takes more muscles to frown than smile: obviously they’re talking about those who sleep for periods longer than 2.5 hours). This past Sunday was Outdoor Worship at Newberg Friends: one of my favorite gatherings of the year. True, we’ve only had two, but they’ve been a *really good* two.
Last year we had an offered breakfast of Krispy Kreme donuts, but this year someone got on the “no trans fats” wagon – fruit and pancakes abounded instead. Last year it was blazing hot, and this year it actually rained a little bit. Last year we let Judah run around a little bit and then said our thank yous that nursery was still available even though the rest of the kids programs were on hiatus for the week; this year, we decided to keep Judah with us . . . on the lawn . . . with no means of corralling such as a door or baby gate (not that they’re all that effective anyway) – yes, I am *that* sleep deprived.
Jason’s folks are in town, but the lure of Portland Nazarene Mecca (a.k.a. Portland First Church) was too strong (that, and they’re staying with Jason’s sister who attends that church – easy ride). I was bummed not to share the experience with extended family, but as multiple mothers kept coming up to ooh and ahh over the latest addition to our family, I realized that our worship gathering has become our extended family.
When deciding which car to take to worship, Jason figured we should take mine which has the removable infant car seat as opposed to his car with the convertible non-removable car seat. “That way we’ll have a place to put Abel.” “Are you kidding me? First, this kid does *not* like to be without human contact. And do you think for a second the ladies at worship will let us keep him in that contraption?” “Ah, yes, I forget.”
See, I know, having attended Women’s Bible Fellowship, that babies are *not* allowed to stay in car seats (unless the mother deems it necessary, of course). Babies are to be passed around, hugged and bounced, cuddled and kissed, commented on how much they’ve grown and which parent they’re beginning to resemble: it’s sort of a way of welcoming them into the family – physically as well as spiritually. The mother gets to take a bit of a break – to share funny stories of how the older sibling is reacting to the younger sibling, to hear stories and advice in return. Folks offer up more than words, but share their bits of wisdom, affirmations, baby gear, and time (offers for play dates or baby sitting).
On Sunday when we arrived at Newberg Friends, Judah excited proclaimed and pointed, “ABEL!” to any passerby. Quickly Abel was passed from friend to mother of a friend to mother of a friend to my patron saint to another friend. Friends came by – moms, dads, kids – and made all the appropriate comments about how wonderful he is and how Judah is such a good big brother. Dads came by to check in with Jason; Judah connected with one of his favorite child care workers who happened to be playing in the brass ensemble that morning; she played songs just for him, and he sat so still while she showed him how it worked that I’ve decided Jason needs to learn to play the trombone.
I have to admit it wasn’t the most focused worship experience I’ve ever had. Judah enjoyed running around – a lot, meaning we chased him around – a lot. We sat by a table with paper and markers which turned into the kids drawing table, which was fairly entertaining to watch as Judah kept saying “hi” to the kids and mixing up their names (but he was so excited to see his “friendscominsoon” – a request we hear daily if not hourly). And, of course, my mind isn’t tracking quite like it should. But I felt happy; content; at home. It was a time of celebration: for our family, for our greater community. As I reflect on my memories of the day, I regain that feeling of centeredness and purposefulness, that I’m part of a story larger than my own, that I have a duty and a joy to share that story with others.
That, to me, feels like worship. And that’s a good day.