Is Holy Week for Kids?

Through the last 12 years of being a parent I have struggled with parenting and worship.

It is not always easy.  Kids have whined, screamed, thrown, (no really I had one child throw a shoe in worship), fallen in the pew and bumped their head.  I have dragged children out unwilling. I have had Cheerios spill, coffee spill (yes I have no shame-I have had coffee in church), bottles leak, diapers leak, poppy diapers and gassy babies during “quiet time.” Fights over crayons, who has the most paper and tears when pencils break.

I have walked out of church either so frustrate and frazzled or content that I never could figure out this parenting in worship concept.

Is worship for kids?  Is it for families? Am I to be feed?  If I was dealing with kids all service long-should I just stay home?

Yet every worship service we bring our kids.  Everyone.  Most of the time we are on time.  Every now and then late.  And there are even a few sightings of us attending early service.  Yes I know-early service.

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While my kids during worship are coloring, or drawing, or talking (shhhhhh) I feel like-with 4-5 kids I

finally got this.  I think.  I feel good at balancing worshiping with parenting.  I think.  I hope.

They are growing and learning.  They don’t always listening -or I don’t think they are, but they know the liturgy.  And they know some hymns.  In fact they will hum the tunes through out the week.
So I have really started teaching my kids about the church year now.  And we have been focusing on Holy week for a while.  Starting with Palm Sunday last Sunday.  They knew this was the week we spent 5 days in worship.  Each worship day special and unique.

Yesterday AnnieQ woke up and asked “So today is Monday Thursday-right?”  And so more teach and learning happens. When does everything go away?  Today they were asking what happened today?  Jesus died-who killed him?  The camp fire is Saturday-right?  Isaiah will always ask, “Can I roast a marshmallow?”

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Last night at Maundy Thursday Worship.  Service started at some of our kids bedtime. They all had been looking forward to the stripping of the Altar, we had been talking about it for a few days.  Robby got to help strip the altar. But Isaiah had fell asleep before the end of the service.  I was disappointed that he missed the end of the service.

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Chances are tonight, he will fall asleep too.  While this means one less child to deal with, I have to wonder is Holy Week made for families or for just adults.  I walked into church with 5 kids last night at 7:30p.m.  when most of them on a normal night would be getting ready for bed if not in bed.  It was a calm night.  Babies fussed a bit, one got taken to the nursery.  Isaiah fell asleep.  The other two colored and drew.  Over all it was stressless worship.  But I have to wonder if there would have been kids there if worship had been a wee bit early, and if Isaiah would have stayed awake to see the end. I wondered at the end if Holy Week services were for kids and families.  I wonder these things often.

A tradition is built on something you do year after year.  Something that your family does every year.  Our family goes to church.  Sunday service.  Advent and Lenten services.  Christmas Eve and Holy Week.  We are there.  My 12-year-old is excited to Acolyte tonight at the Good Friday Service.  Excited.  My kids have been asking me all day, when is church.  This is our Holy Week Tradition.

So the question is Holy Week for Kids.  Yes, for our family. And yes, I would like to see the worship time early so more families can experience this and get their kids to bed at a good time for school the next day.  Maybe some do.  But I like the anticipation that our family has.  I like that my kids look forward to each service and the meaning held behind each one.  I like that in their own way-Holy Week is for them.  Holy Week-the journey of Jesus to the cross.

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What I said I would never do.

Last night I choose sports over church. We said we would never do that. We did-last night.

We knew we had three games-and they should have been over in time to goto church. But didn’t plan the storms. They lingered just south of us, but not on us. Kids got called off the field as Isaiah’s team had 0 minutes and we needed three runs to win game without the other team going up to bat. AnnieQ’s team had 20 minutes and just called the game. Robby’s team 23 minutes. This all happened about 6:30. Church is at 7:30.

Delay after delay…lighting all around us. Most families in their cars. I was getting antsy…by 7, I knew we were going to have to make a choice. Isaiah was on base when the game was put on hold so if he didn’t show it was an out-and the team may have to forfeit if their were not enough players to play.

I felt torn. But I knew Dan and Jeremy had to go. So I sent them and AnQuenette to worship. I stayed. Both games were worth staying for. While Church is very very important to us -staying together on a team teaches them valuable lessons also. Also taught me one.

I got to church as it was letting out. What I didn’t expect is the lesson I learned from my kids. Both my kids were bummed they miss church. As I drove in I stopped to talk to a friend. Isaiah rolled down his window and yelled “Alleluia.” “Shhh” I said to him. Later he told me (cause he’s been saying this all morning) “mommy Jesus died lesterday(just spelled as he says it)-isn’t that exciting.”. I guess for us that is exciting…cause he died for us-so we can live.

What really surprised me more was hearing about the service through the eyes of my six year old. My kids love this service. They pay attention to it -they get it. In a way we did go to service that night-just not in the way I expected.

We will not make it a habit to choose sports over church. But we will teach our kids to follow through on commitments. Dan and Jeremy had a commitment at church, two boys had a commitment to their team-and I had the commitment to do what was best for our family. It all worked.


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