God has blessed us and continues to bless us… in many ways. In particular, we see God’s blessing to us in the many children in our midst. Many of you have several young children, and all the indicators are that this will only continue and increase. But this means that many of you have the challenge of teaching young children how to worship with us, how to join in with us on the Lord’s Day. And this really is a challenge, and I want to suggest several principles for thinking about how we cultivate our families. First, we need to remember our children’s frames. A six month old and a two year old and a five year old will all be at different places, and even among those broad categories it is simply a fact that God has made all of our children differently. There will be amazing two year olds that can sit still for an hour, and there will sometimes be older children that must still work at it. Remember their frame. But this doesn’t mean you just show up every Sunday and just “see what happens.” God does not require of us what he does not also at the same time give to us. When God calls us to obey him, he also always gives us the grace to obey him. This means that if you expect your children to behave in a certain way on Sunday you must give them that grace. You must be blessing them with that training throughout the week. Secondly, remember that God loves your children. Your children belong first of all to Him. He has claimed them in baptism, and he is not embarrassed by them. He is not embarrassed by their cries; He is not annoyed by their childishness and immaturity. He still welcomes them into his arms, snotty noses, crying, and fidgeting. He loves them. He has invited them. He delights in them. And therefore so should you. Of course if your child is being obnoxiously distracting, help them calm down, but we really don’t want to cultivate a community of stuffy pietism. Moms, you in particular need to remember not to worry about what people are thinking about your children. Your job is to love your kids. Love them, delight in them, rejoice over them, serve them, and care for them, but do it all without worry or fear that someone is silently judging your mothering skills. And of course Dads need to be all over this too. Particularly when the kids are very young, Mom is under great demand. Make sure she knows that you appreciate her, you love her, respect her, and admire how she gives and gives and gives. And remember in all of this that we are all the children of God. We may not be tempted to cry out or be distracting, but we are all no less tempted to be distracted. So I call all you to attention now, come and worship, the Lord invites you warmly, and despite your immaturity, despite your fidgeting, despite your wandering minds, he invites you and he says come and welcome.
The above exhortation truly blessed me — Pastor Sumpter (who pastors a sister church of ours) posts his sermons and exhortations so that people like me can be blessed even from a distance.
As I am learning more & more to incorporate Gabriel into the worship service in his tiny ways, I am reminded that I am just like him. I too get distracted, fidgety, etc. And I realize how merciful and patient my Heavenly Father is with my immaturity. I pray that God will bless me and my husband in our parenting efforts, that our son will grow in his love of Christ and in his worship of God. He loves music, and really seems to pay attention to the music in worship. He also is engaged when there is movement involved — sitting, standing, kneeling, raising of hands, etc. He usually sleeps through the sermon, which at five months old is completely appropriate. And I think there have only been two Sundays where we’ve had to utilize the Mother’s Room, even though we frequently sit in the third row! Praise God for His faithfulness. And may He continually teach me, teach Steven, teach Gabriel — and bring us all to a stronger and more complete understanding of His glory and of our worship. May He bless us as we worship Him and bring glory to Himself.