Over the summer I had the experience of being late and the noisy one in Church, well Merlin (our dog) and RJ (our grandson) made the noise! And the welcome and the kindness of the congregation to us all as I moved from the front to the back of the church again was wonderful. But I felt disruptive and vulnerable even in ‘my’ own church.
Looking at my eldest feeding his new son next to my youngest my heart swelled, but I was also reminded of taking him as a toddler to a local Baptist Church. I had returned to Church after a number of years so he could be brought up in a church. During the service my son a gorgeous boisterous toddler was ‘Shushed’ and asked to sit down by the woman next to me. I sat out the service not listening to a word, saying in my head ‘We’re not coming back again’. Once the service was over I rushed to the exit where the minister put out his hand and said how lovely it was to see us and especially to have a toddler there. I tearfully told him what had happened, he gently moved us to the side and said how sorry he was and that wasn’t the welcome of his church, encouraging us to come again. Tentatively we entered the following week and two people rushed up immediately saying ‘Oh do sit with us’. They were the kindest people smiling and interacting with my son and we stayed for many years.
So now twenty years later here I was being reminded of that time, thinking how others probably still feel coming into church even if we say (and truly mean) how welcome they and their children are. And it feels really important to say
Noisy, late you are always welcome!
P.S. Pet Service Sunday 13 October 10.30am Dullingham ~ Noisy animals welcome!
Revd Nikki Mann
Nikki is the Priest in Charge of the Raddesley Benefice (which consists of 6 churches) in Cambridgeshire