I hadn’t been to church in months, but this one Sunday I brought our little grandson, and for him it was a whole new deal.
I hadn’t been to church in months, but this one Sunday I brought our little grandson, and for him it was a whole new deal. At his church, children meet in a separate building, whereas at ours, we’re all in it together, through the Welcoming and Announcements, the Processional Hymn and the Gathering Prayer - right on up to Time for the Young, when, at a given signal, the little ones thunder down front to sit on the steps and listen to Carol, our director of Christian Ed, as she does her presentation. This our little boy found most compelling, so even though we were already seated down front, he, too, crept onto the red carpeting next to the pulpit. Carol took as her theme the Journey toward Jesus, speaking of food and roadmaps and, by way of illustration, pulling from a little knapsack a Bible and a Church Directory. The tykes were all enthralled – except for one tiny boy whose big brown eyes filled with tears when she ended by saying, “Now I want to invite YOU to come on my journey WITH me!” (“Daddy! Nooo!” he turned and mouthed to his father a few yards away. ) But it was mere metaphor, as the child soon saw, and he rose happily with the others to trek off for Church School classes. “Would you like to go with them?” I asked my guest Eddie, but no. “I want to stay and see what happens,” he whispered. So he did stay, through the whole 80-minute service. He’d been charmed by “Shall We Gather By the River?” as anyone in their right mind would be charmed by that wonderful old hymn. And he seemed to love the rich harmonies that rose when we sang the Doxology. He even settled in for the sermon, the main source of entertainment in his eyes, and actually got through 13 of its 22 minutes before declaring in a loud voice, “THIS is not a story!” Ah, but it was a story, and a good one, too, about the Woman at the Well and the Living Waters and what a wonderful thing it is when another person really sees you for who you are. Still, it seemed like a good time for a walk. “Want to go sit in the balcony?” I asked him as I led him toward the back of this 158-year-old building. He eyed the steep steps leading up there. “We’re not allowed!” he whispered. “Sure we are! It’s our church!” I whispered back. So tiptoeing, he climbed those narrow stairs with me close behind. There weren’t many people up there: a couple of small families; two youngish women sitting close and smiling big as they listened to the sermon, which was now reaching its conclusion; a sixth-grade girl there and a third-grade girl here, both serenely alone. Eddie and I went and sat with the third-grader, an old friend of mine. Realizing that I’d never turned off my BlackBerry, I began doing that now. “Cool phone!” whispered the sixth-grader, suddenly materializing beside us, then took it from me and immediately began playing a game on it I didn’t even know it had. Eddie looked down and saw in the pew cushions a Peanut Butter Cup still in the package. “Is this for ME? Can I EAT it?” “Bread for the Journey, honey” I whispered back, and so he did. And the four of us sat contentedly together until the organ swelled and the amens echoed in the high old space and little boy and grandma both felt themselves filled with a fresh spirit, and newly known, and thoroughly welcomed. Write to Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.VacationingInMyDriveway.com or care of Ravenscroft Press, Box 270 Winchester, MA 01890.