This weekend I had the strange experience of pining for my old church as I remember it growing up, a place where people wore suits and remained deadly silent for the service. Sure it was dull but at least you knew exactly what to expect, you didn’t have mess or chaos.
I was thinking that while picking up bits of chicken bones that had been stood on or emptying Lucozade cans down sinks and running up to Dunnes Stores to buy tea towels and shouting at the teenagers who had just been ‘confirmed’ and who where running up and down the stairs in platform shoes. I think that when people always come late (an hour late) and pass up notes of paper before the sermon or don’t take the really noisy kid out to the smaller room.
This not taking the screaming, noisy child out to the smaller room thing seems to have really caught on. Dad says that it now regularly happens in my austere home church. He doesn’t blame the kids, but the smiling parents who don’t seem to mind that nobody can concentrate on the minister. A local parish priest was saying that it is the same with them.I don’t get it. Why not take the kid out? I’m not a parent, is there something I don’t understand about this?
What I miss from my old churches is the efficiency of it all, the ability to swing in 5mins before the start and swing smoothly out an hour later without any stress being added to my life. I miss that sense of everything being under control, no alarms and no surprises. Perhaps I especially now miss that sense of efficiency because I’m married to the minister. If there is less messiness and chaos in the church it means that life might be easier for them which in turn means that life might be easier for me.
On the other hand and despite my frustrations the mess and chaos seems to me to be more in keeping with the Kingdom of God. For years I craved for more reality in church and the ability to come without dressing myself up (literally and metaphorically). So if single parents (of which there are many) are finding it hard to keep their kids quiet during church yet still make the effort to come each week I need to show more compassion.