A few months ago I had a chuckle. During our worship gathering one of my boys was sitting in the sound booth, “helping” with his favorite sound technician. He puts on headphones, watches the computer screen, and actually sits quietly until he’s dismissed to “children’s church.”
Meanwhile, my other son was stuck in the men’s bathroom stall. A friend’s son found him; with loving concern the whole family brought him in his distress to us and stayed to make sure he was okay.
One running things in the balcony; the other stuck in the basement bathroom. But both helped out by our extended family.
Today the eldest was back in the sound booth and the middle child was sitting with one of his best bud’s family. Jason and I enjoyed a moment of rest. I worked to enter into worship, trying not to get stuck on the mention of the “Quaker handraising” (described as a small extension of the hands to the side, totally non-expressive. Doesn’t quite seem in line with a denomination that got its name from describing their bodily manifestations of the Spirit). I thought about how nice it would be after worship, having received an invitation to a friend’s house for a Real Sunday Dinner (with grandparents and Wii entertainment for the tykes – delightful!).
Downstairs I ran into one of the Weighty Friends in my life. Her face lit up when our eyes connected. We waxed poetic about people we admire in our lives and joked about how it’s good that we don’t sit together, lest we stir up “real” trouble.
Similar to the experience I earlier described with my boys, I was enjoying life in the balcony, while another was stuck in a metaphorical crapper.
It can be hard to get through service with young kids, especially when the dismissal to children’s church occurs later than usual. Instead of experiencing the help of a friend “opening the stall door” to get through, a snarky comment about controlling kids or not having them in the sanctuary pretty much slammed that door shut.
This is not the first time it’s happened to someone I know.
What do I do with something like that? What do *WE* do with that? What does it look like to give grace (“oh, maybe they were having a hard day”) or to call into loving correction (“this is not how we treat each other”)? My fear is I will hear more excuses (“yep, that happens in churches”) rather than being heard (“that’s hard. and not okay. what does this mean, and what must we do?”).
Ultimately it’s not my choice: it didn’t happen to me. Directly. But it happened to someone in my family.
After trying on a myriad of reactions, I take the lead from today’s message on prayer: pray without ceasing, in *all* things. In the heights/balcony and the depths/basement men’s bathroom, You’re there redeeming, O Lord. You pour Your righteous love on us all – the old, the young; the movers, the sitters; the finger-extenders, the quakers.
A song that echos through my days, and ultimately I hope to be my evident in my life:
We are His portion and He is our prize.
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…
That He loves us, oh how He loves us. – John Mark McMillan