Welcome to Pastor Yvi! It was so fun watching her first sermon along with the “pregame” and “postgame” shows! I especially enjoyed watching her boys answer questions and then take off to make themselves comfortable in their mother’s new work setting. My brother and I used to do the same thing when my Dad took us to the school where he was principal. It’s pretty much like marking your territory. Pastors’ kids or principals’ kids, we’ve all got to let the other kids know, “This is my parent!”
It also reminded me of the one thing I miss most about being in worship together. I miss hearing the babies cry. Usually at the most inopportune times. New disciples. Like the tree Pastor Yvi and her family planted, it takes 20 years to see what kind of disciple they will become, but oh the joy of watching them grow!
I also just cannot resist sharing one of my parenting at worship stories. When my daughter was about three, we attended a very small church that met in the chapel on a college campus. Not only did my daughter get away from me, she ran up on stage with the pastor during his sermon. Knowing that if I followed her up on stage we would have one of those chase scenes like in a Disney movie, I decided to let her see me and then leave the room in hopes she would follow me. I got up. Caught her eye. I made it past the stage and was almost out the door when I heard the entire congregation gasp. I whirled around as my child came bounding around the corner. We left the auditorium and stayed in the hallway until worship was over. (My parents were our ride so we could not leave until they did.) After worship several members of the congregation came to reassure me, they too had parenting stories. Someone finally explained the collective gasp I had heard. It turns out that instead of running back down the stairs of the stage, my child jumped off the stage. Hence the collective gasp. There was no way around the Disney movie scene. Chase or no chase. Everyone knew who we were after that.
Today, after worship I called my Mother. I call her every Sunday to check on her. Since parenting and school were on my mind, we started talking about my Dad. He started his career in education in a one room schoolhouse. He worked his way to elementary school principal. During the summers he would work for the Board of Education’s maintenance department cleaning out schools, hanging light fixtures, painting, and doing whatever it took to get the school buildings ready for the fall. By the time he retired, education was changing. He let us know he was grateful for the years he was able to be in education. During his career he was still able to teach children the joy of learning and discovery. It was only in the last few years that education became more about teaching toward a test. (He retired in 1985 and died in 2004.)
As Mother and I shared these memories, we both expressed our concern about the difficult choices parents face today. I cannot imagine having to choose whether to send a child to school in person, or keep them at home to learn virtually, or to choose to quickly learn my state’s requirements to homeschool. I faced many choices as a parent. I don’t believe any of them felt so heavy. I just want you to know your church family is here for you. I believe I can speak on behalf of our pastors and church staff … we support you. We are here for you.
Years ago, I was faced with a career choice. Stay in the city I was in without a promotion or move so I could get a promotion. Someone offered me some advice I never forgot. I was told, “there is no right or wrong choice here.” I simply needed to make a choice and be prepared to handle the consequences either way.
I believe that the choices parents are facing right now are similar in that there is no right or wrong answer. No matter what you choose there are benefits and costs. This is one of those times like my daughter running up on stage during worship. Once she had escaped my clutches, we were in for a Disney ride regardless of what I did. You are not going to escape the roller coaster either. I do not mean to minimize the seriousness of your choices. I just want to acknowledge the ups and downs you are about to experience regardless of what you choose.
If you send your children to school, there will be daily fears and occasionally having to stay home because someone in their class got sick and you are waiting for test results.
If you keep them home for virtual learning or home schooling, there will be days you are just too tired or too distracted to make sure they are tuned in to the lesson. And for some kids, not having social interactions in person is a huge anxiety trigger.
As a member of your church family, I just want you to know, we are here to support you no matter what you choose. Each family is different. Each child is unique with their own unique developmental needs. I am praying you are able to choose what works best for your family and your child, regardless of what your circle of friends chooses for their families.
I also pray that in spite of a school year with so many unknowns, somewhere in this year, you and your children rediscover the joy of learning. Let’s all look for ways we can encourage our children to be curious and explore and discover!
Allow me to share a prayer that was given to me when I was in my early 20s. At the time, I worked for Godfather’s Pizza. That meant I was often walking out to my car after work at midnight or later. My friend gave me this prayer to say at times like that to calm my fears.
The Light of God surrounds me.
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me.
The Presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is.
I said this prayer over my daughter every day as she left for school, even when she was in college. (Honestly, I still say it for her and her family!) There is so much in this world we cannot protect our children from. Every day, saying this prayer was an exercise in letting go a little and trusting God to take care of what I could not.
As you pray for your children may you find peace. May your faith increase. May you know you are surrounded by a family of disciples who pray with you and for you every day. We stand by you.
Please let your church staff know if there are resources we can help you find. Please send us any specific prayer requests. Let us know how we can best be here for you.
Peace to you,