My black Honda Fit crunched into the parking lot early at church Sunday morning, delivering me safely for worship practice.
My friends Susan and Frances, were already there; Frances busily organizing the song sheets as the musicians arrived.
I stood on the platform, while waiting for the practice to start, savouring sips of coffee from my thermal mug, relaxing while listening to the hum of conversation:
"Do we have a drummer this morning?"
"Don't know; we'll soon find out."
"Here's the itinerary."
Amidst the bustle of preparations I became aware of the background sound of scampering from pew level. The pews were alive with six or so children belonging to the associate pastor, members of the worship team and the Sunday School coordinator. Heads bobbed and legs poked at odd angles from beneath the old wooden pew seats with the wine coloured padding.
With the occasional giggle they amused themselves by wriggling and crawling beneath the pews and surfacing several rows away; running back and going down again, then rising and peering up over the pews like periscopes. The girls, little caterpillars in frilly Sunday dresses were every bit as rambunctious as the boys.
For the 45 minutes as we practiced, to my amazement, the children did not tire. How we overestimate the value of expensive toys--all you need to have fun is a few pews.
A pew, according to Wikipedia is a "long bench seat or enclosed box, used for seating members of a congregation or choir in a church or sometimes a courtroom." That doesn't sound overly exciting does it?
We spend Sunday mornings searching out our familiar places in the same rows each week, often not changing for years. I do think it strange that we have such strong homing instincts! :)
When Brenda changed churches she was once stared down by a woman who told her, "You are in my pew!" Yikes!
But to the children, the pews were playground equipment, perfect to be crawled beneath and run around--the ideal hiding place.
Towards 11 o'clock the congregation began to gather, and, of course, to take up their appointed places. The children vanished downstairs for their church like Canada geese flying south.
The pastor's message that morning was from Ephesians:
New International Version (NIV)
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The sermon was an inspiring call to maturity and healthy relationship and a warning not to be naive and easily duped by deception. It was a memorable message. We can't be spiritual children forever.
I confess though that I envied the children's joie de vivre; their exultation in life. Pure--or should that be pew--joy!