Monday, May 14, 2012

Eyes for the Father

Photo by rammorrison via Flickr
I have a friend/acquaintance (what DO you call someone you've never met in person when you still care about their struggles?) who just wanted to go to church on Mother's Day. So she and her family headed off to visit a church which shall remain nameless because my point right now isn't to call them out. They dropped the older children off at children's church and walked towards the sanctuary with their sleeping infant. And they were turned away at the door. Oh, not literally told to leave, but told that under no circumstances was their child welcome in worship. Directed to the appropriate 'place' for infants and all children under the age of ten.

There's so much room for anger there. So much room to rail about church and policies and slamming doors in the face of the seekers, and the irony of excluding a mother on Mother's Day of all days. But rather than talk about the wrong I want you to see what happens when churches get it right.

And so I want to tell you a story about another family, and another baby and what God spoke to me through all the messiness and distraction of letting children into the midst of our worship. Because children can wiggle their way past our guards and our logic and when that happens the Holy Spirit can speak truth in ways that we would never hear, never understand if he just told us "Thus say I..."

We have several babies in our church. Actually, it seems like a glut of babies. (A gaggle of babies?) Some of them are nearly eighteen months old already and I'm not quite sure how that happened and I suspect their parents wonder the same thing. The most vocal of these babies has a father on the worship team. And so one Sunday I found myself watching him watch his daddy.

"Hi Dad-dy! Hi!" he would call out. "Hi! Dad-dy!" His face beamed and his body strained towards his father with his whole focus. He had eyes for nothing else. I don't often claim to hear from God, but oh, God spoke to me in that moment. "This is what I want for you. This is what I want for all my children. I want your eyes and your focus fixed on me. Not in the rigid 'step off the path and I'll smite you' way. But in the way a child yearns for his or her father. Be joyful when you see me! I delight in hearing your voice call out to me. This is worship."

This is what happens when churches get it right. This is what happens when we give God room to work in all the mess and noise and distraction of our humanity. This is the message when we let the little children come.

2 comments:

  1. mmmmm. love this one. love this God showed you this picture :)

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  2. AWESOME post! When I was still pregnant with my first, I went to a church where there was a family with four children under the age of about 7, and all the kids came to the worship service every week, sitting obediently with their parents. I always thought it was so sweet. And then when my son was born, he was there with us, in the service too. Now he's 2 and a little too crazy for the sanctuary, but I think they learn from being there with us.

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