Mother's column – Children in church


Christian Life

Neline, CNE.news

Photo RD, Anton Dommerholt

During my first pregnancy, I was full of ideals. For example, I already saw myself sitting in the church pew with my baby in a sling.

In England, I had seen how parents in conservative Baptist congregations took their children to church, even when they were tiny. It is true that families in England are often a bit smaller, making it a bit easier to organise. But isn't it strange that we, who as paedobaptists confess that children belong to the congregation from a young age, prefer to bring our children to the nursery. I already imagined how I would do it all differently. At first, our child would look around curiously, and during the opening psalm, it would close its eyes and quietly sleep during the rest of the service.

Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (8), Abel (6), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (0).

I had not thought about crying babies a single minute. And even less about stubborn toddlers who see the pew as a climbing frame and do not understand what whispering is. On the contrary, our children would definitely be very calm and quiet, just like Jan and me. That is what I thought.

Now, we have been gratefully using the nursery for several years already. And to be honest, bringing the eldest children to church already keep us busy. Concentrated listening seems to be something from the far past. Hopefully, that does not apply to the multitude behind us. I'm sure they already have formed a good impression of the quality of our upbringing. Maybe our children are also a distraction for the minister, I recently thought startled.

One Sunday morning, we were supposed to sing Psalm 81, stanza 12 – one of the first verses Dutch children learn to sing. Abel and Martha started singing with the organ immediately – which child would not do so? But soon, they discovered that the rest of the congregation remained a bit behind. Thus, it seemed good to them to speed up even more. Soon, they were more than half a sentence ahead of the rest of the people.

During the postlude of the organ, Jan, reddened from embarrassment, admonished them sternly, as best as he could do whispering. The last tones of the organ faded. That meant that it was time for the prayer. "The children's voices already were a sermon in itself", the minister started. "They hurried to sing that Thou fillest mouths mildly and abundantly (This is a literal translation of the Dutch psalter of psalm 81, ed.). They were already ahead of us so that we would hear from them how Thou art: mild, unfathomably gracious, good, patient."

Not a distraction, but a sermon. What a relief that children are allowed to be in church.



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