I have to admit it. When I got the nursery volunteer list in the mail and I realized that I was scheduled to work Easter Sunday, I was kind of bummed. I mean, sure, my very own youngest child would be in there, but I would be tucked away in a corner of the church, cut off from the energy and excitement of Easter. I would be removed from the sanctuary, where “real” church was happening, where my two older children and I stand and sing together on the front row, where my husband preaches, sometimes fiery and sometimes sweet and always truthful out onto an ever-fascinating, ever-growing crowd of our church family.
I thought all of these things, despite the fact that every Easter Sunday for the past ten years, someone has been down the hall with at least one of my own babies while I sat in the sanctuary and enjoyed the Easter service.
I walked into the room to find four fluffy dress-wearing little girls sitting sweetly at a table, eating a snack. In another area of the room, two little boys cried for their mamas while swaying women held them and whispered reassurances. Across the hall, I saw three little crawlers exploring their room, baby boys in suspenders for Easter. More mamas came to the door, unwrapping little arms from their necks as they handed over bags and gave instructions. And, babies looked at us, the nursery workers, and determined almost immediately that we simply would not do. But, slowly, slowly, we got some smiles. We got some giggles. And before long the room was a beautiful loud mess of God’s little children. In His house. On His big day.
One little girl panicked when her big sister dropped her off and then escaped down the hallway. But, I kept talking about her bunny dress and how much fun she was going to have. A few minutes later she ran up to me and said, I like playing at your house!
I laughed as she hopped off to play with the other girls. And, I wondered why that hadn’t been my prayer to my Father from the very early start of this Easter Sunday. Instead of pining for what I feared I was missing in the sanctuary, I wish I would’ve begun the day with, Whatever I’m called to do today, Father, whatever you ask of me. If you are calling me to sway with babies or answer play telephones or do dog puzzles, then I say I like playing in your house. I like being a part of this family. And I like playing my part, whatever it may be on any given Sunday. Use me, Lord.
The truth is that I love church. I love raising my hands in worship to the God of the Universe. I love hearing His people sing His name. I love dwelling on His goodness, His mercy, and His faithfulness. I love hearing His word preached well and with conviction. And today I remembered that even just playing in His house, with His littlest ones, is a privilege and an act of worship.
So, to all those precious men and women who have worshiped God by handing out Goldfish crackers to my little children through the past ten years, I say thank you. Thank you for not assuming that the important stuff is only happening in the sanctuary. Not when the chance to love like Christ is offered each and every week down the hall, where the apple juice and the tears flow freely. I’m thankful that today I ended up remembering that I like to play at God’s house. Happy Resurrection Day!