Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Services

This post might be a little rambley as I am still trying to sort things out in my head.

Yesterday little j came home from a birthday party and announced that she wanted to go to church. I had told her a while ago that if she wanted to go then I would take her, as opposed to her going with another family. Well, now the time had come. In some ways, I dreaded going. As I've mentioned before, I don't believe in a god, but certainly don't hold any particularly negative feelings toward those who do. little j has been talking about god for quite some time and we have talked about the different ways that people believe and worship. However, I think it is a very difficult concept, and most especially for a younger child.

So this morning we went to church (although, seriously, could she have picked any other weekend that wasn't the beginning of daylight savings?). On the way we talked about what it would be like and what would happen. She asked what a prayer was and how she could talk to god. Good questions! She wanted to go to church school after the service, but I told her that if she really wanted to learn about god and religion that we would talk about it at home.

The service was at an Episcopalian church, and very similar to a Catholic service, so I had no trouble following along. Halfway through the service she asked if she could go to the school, and I reminded her of our conversation. She was upset, but I agreed to let her go to learn songs and then come meet me after singing and the "adult sermon."

I have to admit, I was impressed with the care and attention the clergy gave to children. They had a special sermon specifically for children during the service, and then after the service was over the kids went to sing and to church school and the adults stayed for their sermon.

The priest is a friend and neighbor, so it was, as Big J said, pretty much going to his place of work and watching him do his job. And he does very well at his job. His sermon focused on love and forgiveness and the power that both hold. At one point, I was moved to tears thinking about how important it is to find forgiveness and love unconditionally.

After the sermon, little j was waiting for me and as we drove home, after a quick stop at Starbucks, she told me that she really liked it and wanted to go again. I had to suppress a big sigh. And then confront my own issues.

It's not so much that I don't want her to go to church, it's more that I want her to be old enough to understand what it means and to make a decision that is right for her.

So, I did the thing I always do in these situation, look for books! I found a great book on world religions that is just right for her age. I read the book when it arrived, and I think it is a good overview. I also realized that I need to do some reading of my own in order to answer the inevitable questions about religions other than Christianity.

Big J and I had a long talk about it as well and we think the best course of action is to attend church once a month and try different churches. I think one of the reasons little j likes going is simply because she was there with her friend. And while I think that is a fine reason for a 7-year old, it shouldn't be the ultimate reason. And this is what we will have to get to the heart of.

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