Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who fain by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.
Rolf and I are honored to have 2 of our grandchildren nearby. Their ages are 2 1/2 and 1. Generally, these are not the most pious ages to have sitting with you in church. Sitting and holding those precious children in church brings back memories! I remember bringing to church ‘the shut-up meal’ (cheerios with some fruit loops mixed in) for sermon time. It was only for the 3 and under. If that didn’t keep them quiet, I would ask one of the older boys to take out the little rascal to the Church nursery. I was careful not to assign the task to the same brother every time. There were times I would have to take the baby out of church so I took the task of taking the rascal out myself. What I remember the most is being determined to stay in church!
The Divine Service is especially meant for mothers with young children! A mother with small children during a church service needs to teach by example about what is happening. Jesus is talking to us! And Christians are listening and responding to Jesus. It is unfortunate that often times the order of services is changed from Sunday to Sunday requiring holding a bulletin or hymnal to follow along. A mother is lucky to have a hand available to do this. It is very difficult to teach by example when there is so much to juggle with young children. Having the liturgy of the service memorized gives the family the ability to help each other to focus on what is happening. Jesus is talking and we are listening and praising Him. The biggest task in teaching children is to get them to understand that they are not the center of attention. In Church, Jesus is the center of attention.
I did not like sending or taking children to the Church nursery. When a child wanted to be the center of attention, I sang the liturgy, kept my eyes on the Pastor determined to impress upon the child that this is not his time for attention, hoping my voice covered his voice and he would quickly know to be quiet! Often, swaying, rocking, firmly holding an arm or whatever, I sang! I am very thankful that I had the liturgy memorized so I could multitask encouraging the children to pay attention in church. I didn’t have enough arms and hands to hold the order of Service to follow along! Fortunately, I somehow succeeded to impress upon the older siblings to understand what it meant to be in church so that they were a great help in setting the example to their younger siblings.
The Sunday morning Church Service is the high point of the week for the Christian family. The Christian family goes to Church to be welcomed as God’s children through baptism, to repent of their sins, to receive forgiveness for their sins, for wisdom, comfort, encouragement, and strength so that they can face another week in the sinful world that threatens to destroy and tempt them away from Jesus. The Christian family is the sheep and lambs who learn and listen to their Good Shepherd. If the Christian family fail to listen and learn to their Good Shepherd they are likely to wander and lose their way from the pasture that feeds them with the marks of the Church. The Word and Sacraments that Jesus feed us give the forgiveness of sins. Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation. When Christian families are nurtured with these gifts from Jesus they are blessed with peace and joy!
Lord Jesus Christ Thy pow’r make known
For Thou art Lord of lords alone,
Defend Thy Christendom that we
May evermore sing praise to Thee.
O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth.
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.