It’s one of my favorite moments in Sunday morning church.
The children run, skip, gallop, and elbow their way to the front to sit on the steps during the Children’s Message. And then they spend half the message getting situated and comfortable, missing out on everything except how the boy next to them is just sitting too close and that bugs them.
I don’t think all of them always understand the story or illustration. Some are a bit self-conscious about looking out at so many faces. A few are too young to make the story’s connection, but they are there because that’s where their friends or big sisters are. Others are preoccupied with their too-tight shoes or their new dress or the barrette in the girl’s hair sitting in front of them.
Their fidgeting, nudging, and annoying each other is displayed for all to see. And we smile and soak it all in. They aren’t being bad, or wrong, or good, or right. They are simply showing up. The steps in front are their place to hang out. It is part of their rhythm. And we accept them just as they are. It’s part of the beauty of church.
Perhaps they are like many of us. We don’t always go to church for the sermon…sometimes we go to be with friends. We go because we need to connect, come together and declare our love for The One Who Loves Us Most. To get the hugs, the greetings, the Peace be With You.
We aren’t there to judge or keep score. There is no right way or wrong way to be in church. We don’t have to pretend like we aren’t hurting and that nothing is wrong. We don’t have to know the songs. We can raise our arms or we can sit silently.
We may fidget, spend half the time trying to get comfortable, feel our discomfort in our own skin, and miss the three points in the message.
But we are there. Showing up.
And we meet Mercy. And Grace.
We meet each other as we are.
Broken. Forgiven. Lost. Seeking. Celebrating. Loving.
It is our Sanctuary.
Lord, may this be truth.