It seems that not so long ago I was “complaining” about having my 2-year-old in church with me. She does not sit still. She is her noisiest during the quietest moments of the service. It is so very difficult to actually pay attention to a sermon when I feel as if I am there just to corral my 2-year-old. But we have begun to reach the point where she will behave – most of the time – through church. I actually listen to the sermon – most of it, anyway!
I had forgotten just how much development happens during the third year of life!
In reality, she is actually a joy to have in church now! She is cognizant of what is going on during the service. I caught her just this morning repeating to me certain words the Pastor had just said. She may not hear the entire message, but she is definitely listening. There are 2 parts she absolutely adores: singing and greeting one another at the beginning of service.
Watching my daughter enjoy these parts of worship make them that much more meaningful for me! She is not afraid to jump around, dance, and throw her arms in the air when we sing! She will shamelessly cheer and shout out a big “Yay!” after a song she enjoys – even a quiet, solemn song. I applaud her and think we Midwestern Lutherans could learn a lesson from her attitude about singing praises to God!
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Isaiah 12:5
She also loves the first part of worship when we shake hands with one another; passing words of peace and greetings to one another. She will shake hands with whomever she can find, young and old, stranger and friend. She is often the last one to sit down. Our Pastor will patiently wait while Lea stands in the aisle hoping to shake just one more hand!
This is a lesson for all, but especially me. I am too comfortable with the familiar; happy to greet those I know well, but I shy away from strangers or people that might make me uncomfortable. It is too easy to stay in my personal bubble and ignore the world around me. This holds true in my congregational life, my professional life, even my personal life. Breaking from the comfort of the familiar starts within me a mild panic attack!
Lea is my lesson in inviting relationship, in showing love and making others feel welcome. Her attitude of acceptance is not just part of her time at church. She will always flash a big smile or a wave to a stranger when we’re out in public.
What does it say about me that my 2-year-old has an easier time talking to people than I do??
I am uniquely created by God – an introvert to the core. I definitely believe there is value in being an introvert. I think before I speak. I enjoy exploring my thoughts and feelings internally. Still, introvert or not, I am called to welcome the stranger and exhibit the love of God to those around me.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7 (ESV)
Like so many things that I write about, this is something that for me will require continued effort. I will let my daughter be an example to me, and I will encourage her to continue this attitude of welcomeness as she grows older. I pray that God might work through her little smile and small handshake – for even the smallest child can be an example to the love of our God!