We went to church today. I felt grumpy and obligated. My big girl sang in the youth choir during the main service and all the kids were supposed to sit in the pews and watch. I inwardly moped that our religious services had been bringing me no joy and I felt that church had become a chore rather than a blessing.
But then something took me by surprise. Rev. Denis Paul, did an amazing thing.
After regaling us with inspiring stories of Siddhartha and Enlightenment (which were amazing in themselves), he bravely made a request. He asked our congregation to stop kicking kids out of the church service and to include families and children and teens in the larger community. This may not sound like a big deal to people whose churches do this all the time. But for ours it was huge. We have historically had a chasm between the Kid People and the Non Kid People, and us breeders were relegated to second class citizens in our own church.
Rev. Paul’s words busted a light into the room like someone had zapped us with a current. My mind nearly flipped inside out. I squeezed my husband’s arm so hard with excitement I worried I might bruise him. I felt like I had been waiting forever for a minister in my church to have the guts to stand of up on behalf of families and children. And it finally happened.
I was so thrilled that I wept during the closing hymn. Which sort of embarrassed me since I sat behind a crew of dirty-headed teens who had just spent the weekend meeting our city’s homeless and sleeping in the pews at a youth retreat. I sniffed it up and wondered if any of the other parents in the room felt like I did.
Turns out they did. I found myself hugging other moms that I barely knew, all of us staring at each other in wide-eyed amazement at the minister who dared to defy whichever old church busybodies set the policy that led to his call to action.
And I joined a cadre of misty-eyed parents who huddled around the minister and hugged him after the service.
Another mom said. “We’re going to need to watch his back when he gets flack for this.” You bet I will.
I carried the unexpected joy of my Sunday morning out into the day with me and it lifted my spirits throughout a crazy wait at In-and-Out Burger, throughout my preschooler’s subsequent tantrum. The joy kept me going on a marathon family walk/bike ride to the beach and it carried me through the hectic evening bedtime routine.
Sometimes the light shines when you least expect it. Thanks, Reverend Paul.