Turns out, it wasn't quite as touching as I'd imagined.
I did, however learn the practical difference between a 10 year old and a 7 year old. One can sit quietly for 75 minutes and one cannot. I also realized what a beautiful thing children's ministry is. If you have ever volunteered to serve in children's ministry, thank you. Serious. Thank you from the depth of this mommy's heart, not only for helping to meet my needs, but for helping to meet those of my children on their level. I want to bake you people little mason jar pies.
My Sunday morning in church usually looks like this. I sing my heart out to the Lord for twenty minutes or so, I chuckle through the announcements, maybe more singing, and then I get to absorb some excellent teaching from God's word. Then I go pick up my kids in Sunday School and we haggle over whether or not it's a donut day.
Today, within one minute of the music starting, I was digging for crayons. Then I was picking up all the papers that fell into the crack between the seats. Then, I got persuaded into holding my son, who is nearly 60 pounds, in my arms while I tried to sing, since the look on his face said that he was sincerely suffering for having to be with the boring grown ups.
When I couldn't hold him anymore, I got to listen to him tirelessly complain of boredom and crawl his entire body up into his chair in thirteen different ways. That was just the first ten of the 75 minute service.
What started out to be a bit stressful for me (ie. 7 year olds in big church) started becoming pretty funny. Next, he started drawing. First it was our wiener dog. Then Star Wars vehicles. There I was, trying to worship, and my son was yelling (so that I could hear him over the loud music, of course), "MOM! Look at my AT-AT and my land speeder!"
But the kicker was still to come. Our church observes communion once a month. When we walked in and I saw the tables set with candles, cups of grape juice and the matzo crackers, I decided this would be a good teachable moment (you know how I like those). My daughter has been in big church with us before and has participated in communion, but my son had not. So I resolved to walk him through the symbolism once the pastor stopped talking. But he hadn't yet finished explaining the first communion at the Last Supper. As our pastor quoted the traditional passage of Scripture where Jesus explains how the cup is a symbol of his blood poured out for us, I saw that clearly, a light had gone on in my son's head. Perhaps he is remembering something deeply spiritual I've taught him, I thought. With a big smile, he turned to me and said loudly, "That's just like in Indiana Jones!"
Okay. He's sitting there thinking of how Indy had to choose which cup was the real holy grail and I'm planning on describing the symbolism of communion. A for effort? In case you're wondering, we don't watch the part of the movie where the bad guy melts for choosing poorly. I'm sure I made parts of that movie a "teachable moment" too, which explains why I was in this Sunday morning debacle in the first place.
The way our church observes communion is that during the quiet music, we are permitted to get up and file past the table, taking a cracker, dipping it in the grape juice, and moving on. My husband and I have a tradition of then stepping aside to pray together and take our crackers in unison. We attempted this with the kids. But mini-Jones refused to eat his. "I don't like grape juice," he protested. I replied very matter of factly, "Well, I actually hate grape juice but I eat it anyways because it's a symbol of something important and it honors the Lord." Still, the cracker was a no-go.
The music then turned into singing time again, as everyone went back to their seats. Several minutes later, I glanced over to see my son, cracker still pinched in his fingers, very cautiously sniffing it. This went on for a few minutes, the sniffing of the cracker wet with juice. Next, I saw the very tip of his tongue extend and graze the cracker like it was a live bomb, which resulted in him twisting up his face into the funniest expression of disgust I've ever seen him make. There I was, trying to worship, and I was left giggling instead. I couldn't stop. It was too funny. I flopped my upturned palm next to him and said, "Give me the cracker." Like a mother, I ate it.
Moral of the story: 7 year olds are really, really great in Sunday School. They sing, crawl around, talk loud, draw wiener dogs, and most importantly learn about Jesus, all on their level.
Moral of the story, Part 2: I thought, for a minute, that my worship was being interrupted. Instead, mothering was a very true form of worship I offered to God this morning. I almost forgot.
My final thoughts are that Jesus has a really good sense of humor. I think he wants us to lighten up in church sometimes. If yours needs some of that, just invite the kids in. These next few weekends are going to be interesting.
And maybe just the refreshment we, as a body of believers, need.
I'll leave you with Legoland's rendition of Indy and the mini-Jones,
who threatens to never eat the cracker.
who threatens to never eat the cracker.