I am thinking back to Sunday. My family and I normally attend the 8:00 AM service at our church. We like this service because it is small and intimate. It is early, but the service ends early and we have the remainder of the day to rest and relax.
There is a young family that comes to this service – father, mother and soon-to-be 2 year old son. He has bright, sparkling eyes and a smile for everyone that instantly melts the toughest of hearts. There’s only one problem: the parents allow him to noisily play and to run in between the rows during the service. Now don’t get me wrong – I love children. In fact, I have babysat for many of the young parents in our church over the years when their children were small to give them a chance to “get away” for just a few hours. I have even babysat this young child. But I find it very distracting and annoying for him to run his trucks up and down the seats of the row, which just happens to be the row in front of where my family sit. So, we hear the “Zoom! Zoom!” of his trucks and the “uh-ohs” of the collisions quite well. We also get to watch as he races down the row his parents are seated on – up the aisle, down the row behind us and back to Mommy and Daddy for a brief respite, until he’s off again. All of this action is accompanied by “Whee” and delightful, mischievous grins.
When it’s time for Eucharist to be served, this cherub eagerly heads for the altar to partake, with Mommy and Daddy, of the body and blood of his Savior. I am reminded of the Scripture verse where Jesus says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” In other words, let them come – don’t stop them. I visualize the painting that was in my children’s Bible, where many children are seated at the feet of Jesus and He is even holding a child in His lap. If that picture had been real, do we really think those kids would have been sitting still? Certainly not! In this picture, Jesus has an immense look of love on His face for those children and I am positive He looks at this young boy and all of the children today in the same way. In fact, He looks at all of us with that same deep, unfathomable love in His eyes.
Should this young child, this child of God, be made to sit still and be quiet? Perhaps. After all, isn’t the sanctuary sacred? Or is it just a room where the people of God, including infants, toddlers and children, gather to worship a sacred God? A God who looks at all gathered there with deep, unfathomable, unconditional love? You decide.