Our family is growing, with a fourth baby on the way! No one is more excited about this than Manny, our three-year-old, current-youngest child, who believes that because he is about to be someone’s older brother, he is no longer subject to the standard rules and regulations applied to children in the social order. Lately, if he’s asked to do something he doesn’t want to do, he cites the impending due date as some kind of exemption.
The other day, he was being particularly sassy articulating demands to his mother, and sealed his diatribe by snarling, “I’m the baby’s big brother!” Shannon responded by saying, “But are you going to be the baby’s sweet big brother?” Manny shouted, “Yes!”
At this point our oldest son Asher interjected, instructing, “If so, say, ‘I will, with the help of God.’”
This was a hilarious family moment, mostly because it struck at something deeply true about God’s grace being the only hope for our fickle natures.
Now, where did Asher get those words from?
You guessed it, church.
He has heard these words of faithful intention spoken in weddings, when new members join the congregation, when parents present their children for baptism, when leaders agree to serve, and most recently, when teenagers are confirmed as members of the body of Christ.
The language of our worship is crafted to be imprinted on the souls of the faithful. The more we hear the words of the faith, the more they come to shape our ways of relating, far beyond our time in the pews on Sunday mornings.
The more Amens and Thanks-be-to-Gods you hear in church, the more likely these words will pop up in your conversations with your neighbors.
The more times you have your sisters and brothers tell you “This is the body of Christ, broken for you,” the more empowered you can be, to speak of God’s love for your family members and coworkers.
During hard times, you may have found yourself repeating the words “Give us this day our daily bread,” throughout the day.
And if you’ve had enough practice in worship, you might just find yourself possessed by the grace the say to a stranger who’s crying on the train, “The peace of Christ be with you.”
Sunday worship is not only a time for seeing people we like, and listening to a thought-provoking sermon. It’s a time of conditioning and preparation, a time to be nourished by love, and to take on the posture, mentality and language of grace. We can have all these things, if we come and take part.
I look forward to seeing you, and hearing you, in church.