By Emily Cook
It’s time for the Divine Service! Our Sunday Feast! Here, the gifts of God are poured out in so much abundance that one can hardly take it all in! It’s going to be a party!
Oh wait, I have children.
It’s going to be a battle.
If you have children, you know they aren’t exactly interested in taking it all in. They’re not there for the “food,” so to speak. They are their to wave to their friends, to drop the offering with a loud clatter on the floor, to lick the hymnals, and to color on their dress pants.
So what’s a mother to do? Sure, we try to teach good behavior, and gently direct and redirect and redirect our child’s attention to the Word of God, the feast being served right there every Divine Service. But they don’t get it, at least not yet, and it seems they never will.
They don’t even seem hungry for it.
So we hand them a pencil and let them doodle on the offering envelope. Have you been there? What do you do next? Inwardly grumble about how distracting they are? Allow yourself to be further distracted by their drawings? (Look mommy, I spelled Jesus! And Mommy! And Poop! Ha ha!)
Parents in the pews, your vocation necessitates a certain amount of distraction when the kids are young. This is true at church, it’s also true when you go out to dinner in public. It’s not relaxing, its a constant battle, the kids don’t appreciate what’s happening, the cost of it, the quality of food on the table before them, and the adults get frustrated.
But at a restaurant, these frustrations do not stop me from eating. I shovel it in, between praising the crayon drawings and wiping the noses and giving the lectures, I eat. And if the kids spend all their time coloring on the place mats, then we simply pack up the leftovers, and serve it to them at home.
Why not use the same approach at the Divine Service? In the short lulls between the boogie-wiping and the crayon-finding, gobble up some food for yourself. Tie the shoe and snuggle the wiggler and take one to the bathroom, all the while taking in what you can of the feast prepared for you.
And as you go along, don’t forget to shove some rolls in your purse for later. Our liturgy is full of hearty tidbits that are perfect for taking home, reheating, and enjoying with the family. When you get the baby out of the crib in the morning, sing with her on your hip: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, amen.
When you leave them with grandma, or drop them off at school: In the waters of your Baptism, Jesus has called you by name, and promises to be with you always.
When the police sirens blare, or an awful news report finds its way into your living room: Our help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
When you tuck in those pajama’d troublemakers and they fold their hands in prayer, say: Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.
The Divine Service is a our weekly feast, rich with morsels of God’s Word. Let us feast on it throughout the week, store it up, and share it with our children. What other rolls could we put in our purse, for use with the children later? Tell me how you use the liturgy in your own home!