"Dear Lord," the minister began with his arms extended towards heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. "Without your Spirit we are but dust ..." He would have continued but at that time a young girl leaned over to her mom and in a shrill 4-year-old voice asked, "Mom, what is BUTT DUST?"
I remember NOTHING of what my pastor said growing up and going to church each week. But I do remember the cadence of his voice and was always amazed that I could tell right when he was going to say "amen" at the end of his sermon because that is when I would have to wake up from my seated nap. If I didn't time it right I would get a poke from my mother, snickers from my brothers, or a leg pinch from my father.
As kids we don't understand all that is going on at church. We don't understand why we have to go to this boring and senseless exercise. We moan about the hard seats, the uncomfortable clothes, the lack of entertainment, and the scary people there. So many of my generation decided that they should give their kids an option of going to church or not. After all, they don't understand it and when they are older THEN they can make the choice to go to church or not. Some churches decided to make church more entertaining for the kids, more lively music and even comedy full of videos of movies and dramatic plays and puppetry. Now I don't believe there is anything wrong with worship and church at the level that kids can understand it. I don't believe church should be boring. Yet ... yet:
- There is something to be said about church NOT appealing to everyone at every time because that tends to water down the message.
- There is something to be said about children learning the discipline of sitting quietly and respectfully even when they don't understand what is going on.
- There is something to be said about realizing that church is not here to entertain you or even to make you feel good.
- There is something to be said about a certain kind of osmosis that takes place in the life of children who sit in a church service or two every Sunday of their lives.
That osmosis happened to me whether I knew it or not. I don't remember a word of any sermon but I do remember the spirit of the people, the desire of the people, and the discipline and joy people found in church. I remember that and I miss that when I am not a part of a fellowship of believers.
The pews have a purpose greater than butt dust.