Our church is kid-friendly. To put it mildly.
Over half of our congregation is under 12 years old. Which makes for a service filled with sweet giggles and the occasional cries of a little one. We love it.
During the worship songs, a gaggle of ballerinas and hip hop dancers take the stage. Unplanned and unannounced, every Sunday. Their little bodies itching to move to the beat.
As a middle-aged white woman who cannot clap on beat, I don’t have those urges. And we are all thankful for that.
But these beautiful children are uninhibited. Twirling their skirts. Swaying their hips. It is something to behold.
Granted, it’s also a bit distracting. Good people fall on both sides of whether it helps or hurts the worship experience. Regardless, it is. And it isn’t easily ignored.
Our three foster kids usually sat with us waiting more patiently than I might have at that age. Coloring on our laps.
One Sunday the boys were feeling anxious to get out of their seats. I asked if they wanted to go up front with the two or three kiddos dancing. They leapt down the aisle.
I watched, delighted to see them having fun in church.
But for these energetic fellas, dancing didn’t take. Swatting seemed like more fun.
And as the church sang about Jesus’ love, our dear boys swatted each other’s backsides. At least until I could rush down to stop them.
I stayed in the front row to keep them close as they adjusted their play.
And my pastor stepped beside me, smiled and said, “I bet you never imagined you would say, ‘We don’t swat each others’ bottoms in church.’”
I never imagined so much of this. Not just what I might say or see, but the reality for these little ones in foster care. What five and eight year olds have seen and known as everyday.
And what they haven’t. The newness of having their own pillow. Figuring out how to snuggle. And learning to dance.