Sunday school was over and the teacher (me) exited the sanctuary to get a drink of water before the preacher (also me) started the worship service. In the foyer was a small crowd of adults, staring out the glass windows to the front yard, and laughing with glee. A mother (yes, me) pushed her way through the crowd to see what was causing the commotion. A little boy (mine) was swinging from the branches of a tree while wearing his Sunday best.
“Did anyone think to get him down?” I asked the crowd, who shook their heads conspiratorially. Of course not; he was my son, but he was also their baby, and anything he did was pure delight to them. If there is no other reason for parents to get up on Sunday mornings and take their little ones to church, then let it be this: being little and loved by a church family is the closest thing there is to knowing what the delight of God feels like.
I think that when Simeon took Jesus in his arms, Mary and Joseph breathed a sigh of relief. Certainly, their unconventional engagement and marriage made them fearful of condemnation within the walls of the temple. Instead, this devout and righteous elder was holding their newborn and singing a song of praise.
Elders need babies in church. Babies need to be in church. And tired as they are, young parents need to be in church with their babies, too. When there, they just might catch a glimpse of the glory that is surrounding them, and see face to face the cloud of witnesses that is cheering them on.
Do you still hear the crowd of witnesses cheering you on? Who is someone you know who needs your voice of encouragement?
Thank you, God, for the rockers of babies, the tellers of Bible stories, and the patient encouragers of awkward teenagers. May we never take our church family for granted. Amen.