Sunday: Church pt 2

hymns and readings (yes, I brought my camera to church this morning!)

a rare moment of contemplation from the 3 yr old

Only a couple of years into our time at St.B’s, we began that crazy journey that inspired the creation of this blog and our move away from our town. Upon settling into the first leg of that journey, we were pleased to discover another, similar, little church, within walking distance of our place. Perfect! Unfortunately, the minister there was desperate. Des-per-ate!!! He, literally, blocked our way out, chased us down the street each Sunday, sweated through exhaustive descriptions of all the amazing programs he could offer, how much better his second service was (we preferred the first one with its smaller and older group), and how he “so desperately” needed us to stay. While hoping to find a place of community and teaching and quietness, we simply got freaked out and ceased attendance.

One thing led to another in life and Thought, and we were soon at The Ranch…and almost an hour away from any ‘formal’ church gathering. We gave some half-hearted attempts…but not really. We were realizing that we were learning a lot through our Church Sabbatical. We began our continuing family tradition of readings and bread and wine (and soup!), on Sunday afternoons, toted around our green book of Services, and gained a depth of understanding and reflection that continues to benefit us now, in this new season.

All of this is just preamble to say, upon arriving back in town, we were pleased to step into that little sanctuary once again.

And here’s what I initially sat down to write:

I love this little congregation. I love this old building with its strip of burgundy carpet and wooden pews.
I still don’t fully know what I think about church and all that. But, whatever church is supposed or maybe could be, this one offers something beautiful to our lives.

See, my boys aren’t quiet or easy or ‘sit in a pew and contemplate’ kind of kiddos. And me, well, I’m pregnant and tired and without the firm hand and eyes of the Papa alongside in that pew to keep everyone ‘churchy appropriate’. There’s no ‘childrens program’. There’s no nursery to check in and grab a number. There’s no band or powerpoint or pamphlets. It’s just people and books and voices and hearts and toast. But, we still attend.
We attend this gathering of believers because my boys are (slowly) learning that they can sit quietly and listen and learn and participate.
We attend because we all get to hear the sound of other voices reading scripture aloud, in one voice.
We attend because I am reminded that there are other needs and prayers and opportunities outside of myself.
We attend because, as a family, we are able to kneel and receive the Eucharist.
We attend because there are students and seniors and professors and moms and farmers and….
We attend because we’ve yet to find another gathering that just lets us be us, a family with kids and issues and stories,  within a greater community.
And, I’m finding that for me especially….
We attend because every single Sunday, each elderly member has personally come to me and thanked me for my children. They thank me! “The Lord bless you!” they say. “We prayed for the sound of children!” they say. (In my mind I wonder why they couldn’t have just prayed for the quiet presence of children instead of the sound of, but oh well 😉 ) They grasp my son’s hands. They (somehow) don’t flinch at that scream or kick or thud. They smile when Jem asks (in the middle of prayers), “Are we done? Is it toast time yet?” and when Knightley crawls out through the door. And when someone’s kid drops his pants mid-sermon 😉 In all my insecurity and exhaustion and fear of judgement, they thank me.

And so we go back.
And we sit in ‘our pew’. And Jeremiah eats the decorative apples on the window sill. And Knightley chews on his toothbrush. And …some kid drops his pants.
And I listen to the sound of other voices when my own is too weak to pray. And I let the tears come again because no one’s watching, but everyone is Present. And we kneel with cupped hands and receive the bread and the wine, and I watch in wonder as a three year old whispers, “Thanks be to God…” and as a wise hand embraces blond curls and speaks a blessing.

And then Jeremiah leaps off the stage and shouts “Toast time! I need to go potty!” and tears out of the sanctuary at the last breath of the benediction. And it’s okay.

I don’t know what I think about church. Quite honestly, I’m not going to get there anytime soon. I’m fine with that.

In this season, in this body and spirit, my heart is glad to have found this particular community of saints.

Thanks be to God.

beautiful people (um...hope this is alright, St B's... 🙂 )

7 Responses to “Sunday: Church pt 2”
  1. thismama says:

    We have wrestled with the attending of church for oh, six years now. Parts of the meeting that we love…other parts not so much. Struggling with what is important and what ‘fluff’ we could just do without. Here we go to a old pretty building where no one is under 65ish, what ‘programs’ there are, are for them. And each week, our children are valued and greeted. No looks other than smiles when Aneliese starts singing during prayer or when Cecily announces that she wants popcorn. If being ‘fed’ as is talked about in most churches that I have attended is a prerequisite, I would say that I am learning to really hear to words of the older and obscure hymns. My questions and Church wonderings haven’t disappeared but for the time I am thankful that I don’t have to explain why our kids aren’t in the nursery or sunday school or wonder what others are thinking as we share communion with our children.

  2. Melanie says:

    oh, I just love that you’re back in that community. It’s perfect for you, friend. Love that picture of ‘Miah. I sometimes wish our boys had more of that community experience about church…sigh…there’s no perfect place, right?

    Love you!

  3. Brenda M says:

    What better response to Eucharist, than Jem’s? Bring on more of the good stuff, and let’s get rid of the crap!! That boy blesses me, Dea — I’m so glad you’re at St. B’s, and glad you snuck your camera in on Sunday, too. =)

  4. Brenda M says:

    Dea — can you please email me? I’ve got a couple of things I would love to hear your thinking about. (Oh, bad sentence structure…!)

  5. Brenda M says:

    Dea — I’ve just posted your blog on FB. =) I love your expression of honesty, of the struggle of trying to figure out how this whole community thing works.

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