Yesterday I sat down in church. Yes, I did tell the story for all ages, and I helped with the sorting of children after they left the sanctuary, helped calm a three-year-old and distract him with playdoh and building train bridges until he forgot he missed his pop-pop. I counted noses before the 6th-7th grade group headed down to the park for Earth Day. Then I grabbed a secret cup of coffee and headed to the balcony where there is no carpeting to ruin if coffee spills and I disturb fewer people with my coming and going.
Then I sat. Only one other person was with me in the balcony, but he was tolerant of my leaving to check on classes. The day was so beautiful many of our families were not at church, small classes often mean fewer issues and less need for the "mean lady" to take kids from class for a while for a little break.
So, I got to hear most of the service. Most of the music. I even got to have a little of the fellowship of experiencing a moving service next to a kind person. I can't remember the last time I listened to a sermon in the pleasant company of a fellow congregant. It magnifies the meaning and deepens the emotion.
Then I ran off to set up tables advertising a fund raiser, peeked in for the singing of the final hymn and then zipped back down to the fellowship hall to welcome the hot and sweaty middle schoolers back from the park, reminded young ones not to eat a whole cake and poured more coffee.
When I leave my work as a religious educator after these seven years, I will leave church for a full year. For a year I will hike or have brunch or visit friends or just sleep on Sunday mornings. Then, I hope, I'll come back to church and sit through services and experience a moving sermon in the warm embrace of loving fellowship. I don't think I had any idea how much I missed it.