The whole family went to church today. Will wore jeans, Jack wore khakis and his sweat jacket, which has a rip in the arm (he doesn't know how it happened), both of them brought books. I'm embarrassed to tell you that this is the first time in months we've all gone to church together. Lately it's just been me, yelling, "See ya later, ya big bunch of heathens!" on my way out the door.
How did that happen? Summer, I think. The season of slack, lackluster church-going that usually finishes up when school starts, only this year it didn't. Plus, we have an adolescent now, and dragging him out of bed on Sunday morning is such a production that sometimes we just give up (and anyway, he goes to youth group, we tell ourselves, which is gathering of believers who talk and pray together, so that's pretty close to church; may in fact be church).
Will has never been enthusiastic about church (Jack actually was until the Sleep Monster took over his body--okay, "enthusiastic" maybe be painting it on a little thick, but he went without complaining most Sundays). It is a long time for an active kid to sit and look at the back of grown-ups' heads; I get that. Oftentimes on Sundays Will has just a touch of a headache and doesn't think he should go; he doesn't want to spoil it for the rest of us by writhing in the pain through the service. The Man, being a former small boy who wasn't always excited about church himself back in the day, always generously and selflessly offers on these occasions to stay home and keep an eye on Will, just in case the headache turns out to be a developing case of encephalitis or leprosy or some such.
So we got slack, but I've been feeling badly about it, so last week the Man and I decided that this week we were jumping back in, and we did, and I have to say I was very proud of my small brood. Although Will brought a novel with him and a drawing pad, he actually spent most of the service reading his illustrated Bible. And Jack said all the prayers and sang all the songs and actually listened to the sermon (he usually does). The rest of the time he read, of course, but I didn't much care. He participated about seventy percent of the time, and that's not too bad for a sleepy, jaded twelve-year-old.
The Man, of course, looked awfully handsome, and it's always nice to share a pew with a handsome man.
This of course is a wonderful time to get back into the church habit. Advent is around the corner, after all. And I think it's really important for all of us to go as a family, for the boys to see their dad taking all the singing and praying seriously (which he does), good for them to see all these people coming from all over to worship together. As they get older, there may be lapses in their church-going--I say this as someone who skipped church for twenty-some years--but like so many people who went to church as children, they'll be pulled back in.
And fortunately, nothing I've read suggests that Jesus minds it all that much when a twelve-year-old boy shows up to church in a jacket with a ripped sleeve. It's the showing up that matters, as far as I can tell.