One of the things that I pride myself on as a pastor and parent is that I take the time to prepare my son for worship—pointing out to him changes or additions in the sanctuary that indicate something new or different will be happening in worship, making sure that he has his own bulletin and hymnal so that he can fully participate in worship with his father and me, even pointing out to him things that I think are strange or weird in worship, helping him recognize our worship habits or notice when we stray from them.
It has been two years now since I left my work in congregational ministry—which means that for the past two years I have been able to consistently worship with my family instead of sitting in the pastor’s seat in the sanctuary. We have gotten into a particular habit lately, where my son sits in between my husband and me in the historic and weathered pews of our small congregation.
Several weeks ago our friend and pastor lost her first pregnancy to a miscarriage. It had been a difficult pregnancy up to that point already, and so the entire community was walking closely with her and her husband expectantly towards the birth of their son.
It continues to be incredibly sad for them and their family as they grieve not just for the life of the child, but for all of the potential and promise that the child held within him.
Several years ago I remember very off-handedly asking one of the ushers in my congregation how, if they take the attendance count when they are collecting the offering, do they count the children who have left before the sermon?
The answer was simple. “We don’t count the children.”