Last Sunday at church we were finally back in our sanctuary. Over a year past, a structural engineer working for the company who was trying to fix a roof leak (of the sort that really ought to be named "leakus herpesious" because, like a cold sore, it never really goes away) reported that in his professional opnion the roof was unsafe and caused a grave threat to human life in the case of rain or snow.
We've been having church in the fireside room ever since. I never had a problem with this, having been in many kinds of churches over the years both formal and informal. It was a difficult change, though, for many of our older parishioners, some of whom have been attending our church for decades. If you've been raised on a steady diet of stained-glass windows, pipe organ and pews with soft red seat cushions, not to mention a priest who stands at a lectern in full regalia, the informal nature of setting up "church" in the room where you normally have coffee and then staying there for more than a year is going to be difficult. We had some real drama over it, and our priest ended up taking a position at another parish in large part, I think, because of the stress of it.
The numbers at Sunday service dwindled considerably over the past year, but we made it through. And by the grace of God, we were back in the main sanctuary just in time for Easter Sunday. I almost cried for joy when I hear the first strains of the organ being played.
Singing under the high roof with the good acoustics with the organ has a completely different feel than it does in a small room by the piano. I do confess that there's more than one reason I prefer sitting in the choir loft to sitting in a row of chairs facing a room. I feel a lot less "on display" back there. I can also surreptitiously surf the web on my droid when no one's looking.
There, my secret is out.
They did offer Sunday School for the kids on Easter but C opted out and wanted to play with his toys on the stairs. He and another little girl played more or less nicely for most of the service, but at some point the yelling, even with the doors closed, was quite noticeable.
Although many churches say that they "welcome children" very few actually mean it. In most churches, children are welcome only up to the point where they actually make noise, cry or have a stinky diaper. Beyond that, Mom and child are banished to the crying room. Wandering the aisles is frowned upon, and God forbid your bipolar child should happen to be in a manic phase and fall into a rage.
The church we attend is lovely in every way, not the least of which being that they not only saychildren are welcome, they REALLY mean it. I know this to be a fact because my children have put it to the test, vigorously. My son has spent services where he wandered from the pews to the choir loft, on my lap, under my bench, behind the altar and back to the pews and nobody even looked crosseyed at him. In fact, most of the ladies just smile and pat him on the head when he wanders by. When the kids get antsy on the Sundays there is no kids group, the older kids take turns entertaining them. My children have argued, loudly and vociferously, in the middle of service.
One recent Sunday, a rather nice day,the kids were playing outside during service. The very ending of the doxology, "Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost...." was punctuated by a banshee yell from C as he ran screaming away from a bug on the sidewalk right next to the windows of the fireside room. I cringed, everyone else just laughed.
We do, however, try and get them to keep the noise level somewhere below "thundering," and so on Easter Sunday, one of the ladies in the audience went out to the stairs to see if she could make a dent in the shrieking.
C was, as I understand it, yelling at the other little girl for using a crayon that he had been using to color with, but then set aside. As we all know, the Book of Nonsensical Children's Rules Meant to Drive Parents Insane, states implicitly that whether or not you are currently using an item is immaterial, only that you had been using and possibly meant to use it again at some point in the future - "future" being defined as anywhere between today and your eventual death from old age.
The nice lady offered C a different crayon as a substitute, which he promptly rejected. (The crayon that you were using that has been so rudely stolen by the other child is always better than the replacement you're being offered, regardless of condition or color. Duuuu-uuuh.)
She tried reasoning with him. "You know, it's just a crayon. And besides, you don't really want to be yelling at your friend anyway, do you?"
My son looked up at her, cocked his head and said, quite matter of factly, "But I DO. I really DO want to yell at her."