Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007
The sight of little ones in God’s house charms us all
Once several years ago, a harried mother in my congregation complained that she’d missed worship because she had to iron all weekend for a son who’d brought all his dirty laundry home to her from college. She wondered facetiously if perhaps it could be arranged to set up ironing boards in the back of the church for mothers like her. “I could stay back there and iron quietly while the rest of you had church. That way I could do two things at once!”
It seemed like a good idea to me. I told our friend that if she’d iron my laundry too, we might be able to work something out!
Well, this column is about an addition to the back of the sanctuary, but it is not an ironing board.
The picture that accompanies this column shows the younger set at First Presbyterian, gathered around our “children’s table” at the back of the sanctuary.
I got the idea while traveling in Britain a couple of summers ago. Almost every church has one. The idea is to provide quiet activities for little ones who are making the transition from the nursery to “big church.” There are things to color, stuffed animals, puzzles to work.
The philosophy behind the children’s table is that children absorb a great deal in worship even though little people find it hard to sit still. I can remember having to stand still as Dr. Bolling, our beloved elderly minister in Cleveland, offered the Great Prayer. My little head did not reach above the pew in front of me. It seemed like an awfully long prayer. But in those days, coloring in the pews was definitely not the “done thing.”
So I learned to love church, but I had to do it the hard way. The “children’s table” in the back of our church is designed to ease the process.
I will confess that since the arrangement took away three pews in the back of the church—prime “real estate” as far as my parishioners are concerned—I expected some opposition. But the kids have been good as gold—an adult sits nearby to assist with things if needed. And so I think the sight of little ones in God’s house again has charmed us all.
It is an idea that is easy to implement. It doesn’t cost any money. And it does not take the adult helpers out of worship. Best of all, our little ones get used to spending time in the sanctuary without having to sit “strait-jacketed” the way children in earlier generations had to do.
Anyhow, I thought I’d share the idea in case some of the other churches wanted to try it. As I say, it has been very helpful for us.
Maybe if the children’s table works out, we can talk some more about that ironing board in the back of the church.
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