Noah was all about going to church and "reading the red Bible" (the hymnal) this week. And sure enough, as soon as we got there that is what he did:
I see more and more a very dangerous path being started down by quite a few people in my generation and younger--taking the idea of "all I need is Jesus" and twisting it to "I don't need to be a part of a church or be accountable to anyone for my faith." Is it possible to have a vibrant relationship with Christ without participating in a church? I would say yes. (Possible, but not ideal.) Are there parts of the world where this is necessary? Yes. But we have absolutely no excuse. We have the freedom to worship publicly with others; we have people called by God who dedicate their lives to receiving training and using that training as leaders of churches.
There is no such thing as a perfect denomination or a perfect church. Because there is no such thing as perfect people. This is another thing that truly scares and saddens me--people saying "I don't like how the church looks so I am not going to be a part of it." There are things that I don't like about the American church either. But why is the church something we are so quick to drop away from and rationalize doing so. If we don't get involved and change it, who will? What is going to happen?
Once again God uses my toddler to remind me of these things, to take off my critical adult glasses and see the good. The church we are a part of is far from ideal for a young family. Noah is almost always the only kid under 8 years old and we are the only "young family." Sunday School is led by his parents. We have one room upstairs, one room downstairs, and no nursery. There are times when those things are what I see the most, and I think about how it is oh so much work as a mom and none of that is "right" for me and I don't want to go. Then I see that little 2 year old who is bursting with excitement to go to church and asking for more, and I remember what it is really all about. He knows that there are people there who love him. He knows that it is a safe and fun place that he is a special part of. He knows that we pray together and sing together and learn together and that it is important. He loves to hold his own hymnal and is even starting to sing the words with songs he knows. We are blessed to have a pastor who is wonderful with children and includes a children's message every week that they get to go up front for. (which Noah calls "sticker time" because they get a sticker at the end) Noah told me this week, "Mama, Pastor teaches me many things."
(Of course, don't go getting the idea that he is the model of perfection. There are weeks when no amount of bribing with food or toys will keep him in one spot. And having such a small room, everyone hears his running commentary of the service. Such as the time when he said very loudly, "No more praying. Time to go downstairs." ...)
Please excuse the random theological bunny trail that came with these cute Noah pictures; it was on my heart. Thank you once again, my sweet little boy, for reminding me of things I should know by now and being a precious example of a "childlike faith."
We love church.