Three Random Thoughts
by Paul Landkamer
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New Year's eve, 2006 (the day before 2007), we attended a small Presbyterian church in Columbia, Missouri, with our traditional New Year's party partners. Yeah, we're real party animals! We stay up (or at least try) until just after midnight while drinking sparkling grape juice and playing games like Apples to Apples, Catch Phrase, Imagineiff, and others that don't come to mind right now. OK, I'm off track. Sunday morning was great! The church felt like we were visiting family, even down to the behavior of the little kids. At my home church, they stress taking the kids to places outside the sanctuary, so they won't be distractions.
While the pastor delivered the sermon, New Year's Eve, little children chattered quietly, and there was even an occasional spattering of little feet up and down the aisle. I smiled at those little gifts from God. I pondered those children as blessings. It wasn't until we left that it hit me that so many look at those little voices as distractions from Satan.
I can understand wanting to minimize distractions in a worship service. If we can't, with God's help, handle a distraction like quiet little voices of children, how will we handle the big stuff Satan throws at us?
Here's a note to parents: Quiet noises from your children likely bother you more than anyone else.
Jesus is coming soon! The Bible tells us that, and for us to be ready. The Bible is God's Word. Lots of people say, "Yeah, but if He were really coming soon, He'd have been here by now. It's been thousands of years since that was all written." I've been married over a quarter of a century, yet it seems like it was only yesterday I was in high school (graduated '75). I'm almost a half century old, but I still feel like a kid --OK, parts of me remind me that there are lots of people younger than I am. But it still feels like it's all been such a short time. Putting that into the bigger picture, even a century isn't that much time.
My MA in history serves to compress time even more for me than for most people. It wasn't all that long ago that the Romans were "Top Nation" as 1066 and All That puts it. To God, I'm certain we've only been around as long as a whisp of a vapor. What's soon to God? He said Jesus is coming back soon. I believe Him.
Now I jump tracks again. I missed Sunday School today. I didn't skip it, or blow off going to church. I told my wife I'd help her in the nursery today. (Imagine minor chords played on a pipe organ now.) It was a first for me! I've never felt "called" to that ministry, and I filled in because she couldn't find anyone else. I still don't think that's my calling, but, it didn't hurt either! I knew even if it was a pure screaming-fighting-dirty-diapered-snot-dripping-vomiting time, it'd be over with in just a couple hours. Jesus loves me enough that he gave His life for me. I love my wife enough that I could at least give a few hours to help her out in a pinch.
I hope my wife doesn't blackmail me with this article, but, my nursery morning was actually fun. Sure most of the kids gave me skeptical almost frightened looks for the first couple minutes. One little girl in pink staggered right up to me and hugged me, begging to climb into my lap. Her mom showed up and she left, but the little fussy boy put his arms up to me and I picked him up and he quit his bawling and it turned to a soft sob as he buried his head into my chest.
Another note for parents: Your kids only cry so you think they miss you.
After a couple minutes of parental pick-ups and drop-offs, things calmed down. I had lots of snuggles, rolling trucks and cars across the carpet, playing with the big colorful toys while the wide-eyed tykes stared in awe. I had plastic rings stacked on my head. I carried kids to the toy shelf and let 'em pick out toys. I made noises to some farmyard toy, at which some of the kids giggled. We even played catch --or rather get-the-ball-in-close-proximity. The little girl we had threw like... well, threw like a boy --or no, like an athlete. She was good and accurate! I had odd moist spots on my clothes, and I even had cookie slime on my fingers from time to time. And as my wife promised, she took care of the diapers while I played on the floor with the ones who didn't need special attention. I took care of a few criers and calmed them down --even a crier with a bumped head.
We've had two kids of our own. They're adults now. We did foster care for three years. I'm 49 years old, and this is the first time I've worked in the nursery. I'd always felt it wasn't the place for me --AT ALL!
Nursery work didn't hurt. It wasn't scary. The most "work" that was involved was pushing the big plastic boat around the floor giving the kids rides. (Imagine happy music playing now.) I'm sure all your churches need nursery help. Volunteer a Sunday or two from time to time. I'll be there again next week. After that, however, my wife's helper will be back. I probably won't fuss about that. I likely won't eagerly volunteer to work in the nursery, but I know I can do it. My wife knows it too. (Did you just hear more minor pipe-organ chords?)
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