November 21, 2011

Here, Hear the Children

The call came a few hours after the parish meeting.

A young dad, he wanted his priest to know about a situation, in case it escalated. The diocesan transitions officer was meeting with the people of the parish to talk about next steps since their priest had accepted a new call. We didn’t stay for the meeting – to give people space and time to discuss the transition without the priest at the table – so we didn’t hear about the kerfluffle until the call.

This couple started attending the church around Easter. Two weeks ago, the bishop celebrated their reception into The Episcopal Church. Yesterday, they hosted coffee hour, and the wife is heading up the Giving Tree. In short, they are an answer to what every congregation says it wants: young, involved families.

Their son is 2. I could tell you about how he’s an active boy who finds a sound he likes and then repeats it, enjoying the rhythm or the way his lips tickle when he makes his car go "vroom." He sometimes escapes the clutch of his parents, taking off for a lap around the pews. At one moment he acts like he’s lost all bone structure, as his parents try to get him off the floor and moving toward the door. The next moment, when they’ve given in and picked him up, he’s arched back and stiff limbs. 

But every parent reading this blog already knows these things. Because he’s 2. And 2-year-olds don’t act like grown-ups. Nor should they. 

At some point early in the meeting, the senior warden asked if one of the parents could take the son out of the room. He was disturbing others. 

I give thanks to God for the conviction and truth in which the father responded: My son is just as much a part of this church as you. 

Still, the couple packed up, gathered their son and left. I hope they’ll make their way back, but if they don’t, I wouldn’t blame them. 

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that earlier in the day, my 7-year-old son looked at the choir and turned to me, asking, “Why are all the choir members senior citizens?”