More weekends than not, anymore, I stay at home and worship with the babies.
This is not my first choice, but the indifference and UNwelcome of me at the regular assembly is so raw, and the transport of four babies all under the age of 3 is so cumbersome, that I generally just share worship here with them at home. House church.
And I share the Eucharist with them.
Worship with babies, like most activities with babies, makes me recall how I learned to do things. I remember walking into the drug store with my grandpa and wanting that toy horse up on the shelf behind the counter. My kid sees the toy car on the display at the door and immediately wants it. But when it comes to “communion”, my experience was that I watched the adults “partake” of it for years before I “understood” either it’s meaning or the reason it was prohibited for me.
I recall watching all pie-eyed as the bread was passed in front of me. Then a moment later the “fruit of the vine” was passed by. I can recall turning in the pew, getting up on my knees, and trying to watch the people behind me take their turn at it – until my mother’s hand would usher me back to my proper seat, that is. I had no idea why it was important to me, but it was! And I wanted in on it!!!
None of that is available to my kids today.
And I don’t prohibit them anyway.
But I recognize this means they will not see it the way I do. They will not have the same feelings for it that I do.
Not that it’s a bad thing, but we will not share this experience of it.
Jesus says, “Let the children come…” and so I do. I share it with them, bless it for them, eat it among them, and include them in a ritual they have yet to grow into. Like when I was a small child playing dress-up in my dad’s Navy uniform, it was waaaaaaaay too big for me, but I could imagine myself being like him.
It’s not my connection they ultimately need anyway. I hope it’s Jesus who meets them there at the Eucharist, and I hope he meets them there again and again and again throughout their days.
It occurs to me, the old story about the young bride who cooked her family recipe ham for her young husband and cut the ends off it as she prepared it – which alarmed him. He quizzed her, and so she quizzed her mother who had always done it that way, who then quizzed her mother who had always done it that way only to find out that grandmother had done this because it was the only way to fit the meat in her pan. Even if I put them through the experience I had, there is no way to determine if my kids would share the same feelings and understandings of it.
I share the meal with the kids, but I give them to Jesus at this meal, and he parties with them.
I hope they have precious memories of it. I hope they grow ever more into it. And I hope they meet Jesus there again and again and again.