After school every day my kids and I run through a sort of “poor man’s” or maybe “cheap date” version of the Examen.
I ask: “What was the absolutely best, most awesomely-terrific part of your day?” and then “What was the most horrible, dreadful, poke-needles-in-your-eyes worst part?” Or some such.
And on one afternoon — just a few days into the new school year — my daughter answered that the best part had been singing in music class. I smiled and turned to ask her what made it great. She had missed singing with friends over the summer and it was fun to do it again. Although, she said, “I miss singing about Jesus. Because singing about Jesus with other people is really great.”
And with that, my heart sank. This fall, we made the prayerful and (we believe) God-led decision to take our kids out of the wonderful Christian school they had been attending and to send them to our local public school. The reasons for the switch were twofold: (1) financial and (2) because see the neighbor-kids going one way to school and my kids going another wasn’t jiving real well with my longing to be part of our community.
Even still, the decision was not made lightly nor without some tears. However, we felt God’s blessing in what we considered to be an act of obedience. My kids ended up genuinely excited to switch and to experience something new, and they seemed to love their new school from the start.
My daughter’s words about not getting to worship with her friends were the first negative I had heard. But those words were whoppers.
Although I tried to remind her that she would be able to sing with others in church and at the various ministries she attended at church and though I reminded her that working hard in school and playing hard at recess and being kind to new friends is an act of worship, I knew it wasn’t the same. Losing an opportunity to “sing about Jesus with friends” is something worth missing. Probably something worth grieving.
I have to admit: as introverted as I am and as solitary and on-my-own as I prefer to do most things in life and as oddly mystical as I can get — feeling Jesus and worshipping him at every weird turn in life— there’s nothing I like more about the Christian life than corporate worship. Ask my family. Or eavesdrop on us on a Sunday morning. You’ll hear my kids whispering to one another: Hurry up. Otherwise we’ll miss Mama’s favorite part! They’ll tell you the monster I become if we’re running late and on the verge of missing those opening songs we all stand and sing together.
This is not my favorite part because I’m so musical or such a great singer; it’s my favorite part because I believe almost nothing here on earth is more wonderful than all sorts of sinners, from all walks of life, coming off of all sorts of weeks, angry at all different politicians, burnt out by all kinds of work, wrestling with all sorts of demons, standing together to sing out our love of Jesus. I love these unifying moments.
While we can (and should) all go through the rest of our lives being Jesus’ hands and feet in this world, worshipping him in all we do, there’s just something about his people gathering to worship in song and in prayer and in hearing God’s word — together.
It’s not magic, but it’s something close to it. And while I’m sad my daughter is missing out on one more opportunity to do this, I’m thrilled that she actually misses it.
Image credits: flickr.com/photos/katinthecupboard and flickr.com/photos/33104080@N08/