April 14, 2014

Soccer-field Best

They came in their baseball jersey and pants, cap tucked into the belt. They came with soccer shorts underneath the choir robes, and they processed with hair primly pulled into a bun for an afternoon recital. One wore riding boots for an afternoon session at the horse barn; another schemed for a play date. 

But they came.

These children with lives as busy and overscheduled as their parents came to church on Palm Sunday. They sang with the choir, played handbells, collected the offertory as acolytes. They shook hands with the adults around them at the peace and knelt at the altar, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. And if some had to slip out before the recessional hymn to catch the start of the game, so be it. Their priority was clear: they were here. Worship was an important part of the day. 

I’ve seen side glances and pursed lips when a 10-year-old walks down the aisle wearing her softball uniform. But this holier-than-thou piety needs to be checked. Just because we’re wearing pumps and suit jackets doesn’t mean we are any more welcome or valued at the church service. I don’t think Jesus is happier with those wearing their Sunday best. 

As we move through Holy Week, we should take care to look at ourselves, not to judge those around us. We should encourage our children to make worship a priority, not at the expense of other parts of their lives but as an integral component to the tapestry. 

Perhaps we can even learn from their example so we don’t compartmentalize: Church for an hour, then we’re done with faith for the week. If God is everywhere, even on the baseball diamond, then it’s probably OK too for the baseball players—and their uniforms—to be at church too.