On Lenten Worship with Children

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By Shelley Mielke
Last night’s midweek Lenten worship.  Full of pondering and solemnity and introspection and a deepening understanding of what our Savior did for us on the cross.  Yes? Yes it was.  There many times during the service when I closed my eyes and soaked up the words I was hearing and singing.  More than once my heart was stirred.
But did I mention I also (re: always) attend church with my five children?  Yessiree!  I wouldn’t have it any other way, of course, because worshiping with my children is hands-down one of the best things I can do with them.  Raising them in the faith is the single-most important job my husband and I have.  Sports? Music lessons?  Academics?  All important, but they pale in comparison to teaching them about their Savior. 
But is is easy?  Not exactly.  Last night, when I wasn’t moved by God’s word, I was handling situations such as these:
  • A concern about the electronic picnic basket my 6-year-old daughter brought to hold her important things.  This basket, if turned on, would play a lovely bit of music and then proclaim “Let’s go on a picnic!”.  Out of respect for everyone around me, I obsessively checked its power button and shoved it under my seat.
  • Ink explosions on my son’s hands.  Though it has never happened to me, apparently the new pens I bought have a penchant for getting ink everywhere.   By the time worship was over, my son looked like he had paid a visit to a (struggling) tattoo artist.  
  • Gastrointestinal problems.  More than one of my children wasn’t feeling well last night, resulting in several trips in and out of church.  And one of those children doesn’t know how to exit the church quietly (though my last words to him before he left were “Walk quietly!  Quiet feet!” – to no avail).
  • A moon alarm.  What’s a moon alarm, you say?  Well, one of my boys has to look at the moon every night for school and chart its phase.  After several days of forgetting this assignment, I decided to set an alarm at 7:51 to remind me to remind him to go outside and look.  Super smart, right?  Go mom!  Yay!  Weeeellll, though I set my alarm on my phone every night for the next morning and know that the alarm isn’t silenced by the mute button, I didn’t give the moon alarm one thought.  (Let me remind you that I NEVER give the moon alarm a thought – that was why I set it in the first place, because I NEVER thought about the moon check! That was the beauty of the alarm!).  Sooo- at 7:51, just as communion was about to start, and there was silence in all of the land, my phone starts playing a classical vespers piece.  Panicked, I dove down into my purse, all the while cursing the moon and its phases.  Thankfully the piece starts out very quietly, and though I didn’t know it at the time, apparently no one around me heard it.  
  • Laugh-coughing.  Newly invented by my son, who was sitting next to a friend who said something funny just as my son started to cough.  Again, in a silent moment of worship.  And this child rarely does anything quietly.  He was righteously indignant when I reprimanded him about it – “I was just coughing, mom!  I couldn’t help it!”
Yet – amongst all these distractions, anxieties and issues, I worshiped with my family (well most of it – one was preaching and another was singing in the choir).  One son leaned over and told me the choral piece was amazing, and another child held my hand as we prayed the Lord’s prayer together.  As parents, we can do so much for our children.  We are bombarded at every side with ideas about how to shape our children; how to mold them into upstanding citizens.  We can throw Pinterest parties, we can get them on the best travel teams, and we can take them on elaborate trips to exotic places.  But if we don’t nurture their faith?  If we don’t introduce them to their Savior (on a daily basis!), then what’s it all for?  None of it will matter in the end.  
Worshiping with children is not for the feint of heart, no doubt, but oh how we are fed as we worship together.  Praise God that he strengthens us for our journeys – including parenting our children. 
Photo Credit to Ian D. KeatingSome rights reserved.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Shelley’s blog here
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Comments

On Lenten Worship with Children — 3 Comments

  1. I am so glad you can do it…I can’t take my too very tired and crying children to 730 p.m. service with only 3 or 4 people attending because the others will not hear a thing! If there were more than 30 people I would but it is NOT worth the congregation not to hear because I have no control over my children even though I have been consistent.

  2. In a lot of ways, it’s a ‘balancing act’. Certainly, if there’s only 4 people attending, noisy and fretful children will stand out. It sounds like Shelley’s comments could be seen as encouraging even knowing that children can be distracting. Our midweek services draw in about 15-25 people, but they also begin at 7pm after a light potluck supper. 7:30 does seem late. Most of us are heading home by 7:45. (We used to go to a church that did Holden Evening Prayer, Scripture readings, and no sermon. That, too, preached to us at the time.) It’s possible that you might be surprised at how well they do in church (maybe not the first time, but as time goes by.)But only you can tell. (As I told a sleepy preteen one Sunday morning, “God doesn’t require a blood sacrifice, but this morning you’re going to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. No one said it would be easy.”) God bless you all as you help your children mature.

  3. I loved this last year – so I will be sharing it with my FB friends again this year. Thanks so much! God bless you and your family!

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