Well, of course, little E. didn't know what a sermon was exactly, so he just stood there, blinking. And I was played the fool, I suppose. It hurt just a bit; I felt as if she had, somewhere in the midst of her humor, called me stupid.
So is it stupid? After all, he doesn't understand the sermon. And most of our time is spent discouraging squirming. Wouldn't it be better to send A. to the nursery, and E. to the three-year-olds class where he can sing songs and play with cars and do crafts? And even if it wasn't better, wouldn't it be easier? Well, of course.
When I think about why we are training our children to participate in corporate worship, a whole list of reasons flies through my head. Here is my attempt to summarize:
- When people brought their children to Jesus, he not only welcomed them, but also warned those who wished to hinder them. Jesus did not consider them a distraction, but rather spent time blessing them and touching them. All of this conveys that children were important to Jesus as children; they didn't have to wait and grow up before He would accept them.
- An article I once read pointed out that in the Old Testament in Joshua and again in II Chronicles, the children were present for the reading of the Law. God didn't create nurseries and designate some people to keep the children away from the others so they wouldn't be distracted, but rather welcomed children as a part of His congregation.
- This is my more practical reason. It is quite difficult for a little boy to learn to sit still in church. He may try very hard, but most boys are born with the wiggles! I don't want to fight all the battles when he's older. I want to train him now, so that, as he grows older and is ready and able to understand, he won't still be struggling with simple things like remaining in his seat and concentrating.
- I think it is important that my children interact with different generations. When you think of it, it is very unnatural for us to segregate ourselves by age the way we do. My husband and I both attended public school, and for a long time we felt as if all our friends needed to be in our exact same life stage, and when our life stage changed, it was as if we needed new friends. I think this mentality was bred by being segregated by age for most of our lives. We had no clue how to interact with anyone who wasn't exactly like us. I want my children to learn their place within the entire body of Christ.
This is not to say that our children never attend children's church. Si and I attend a class on Sunday mornings with other couples, and during that time E. is in the three-year-olds class, doing all the fun things I listed above. But when we come to worship, we now do that together as a family. And you know what? I love it! I love holding baby A. while we sing the songs. I love A. and E. holding hands during prayer. I love that E. is figuring out what a pastor is and does. I love that Si can try and explain what it all meant to E. It is exciting to be there, to see him grow and be stretched in sitting still. A little while, and he will be grown. Everyone says it goes faster than you expect. My goal is not to miss it.