Pennies from the Pews

By Dale Buchanan

Every Sunday morning at Big Red Church something wonderful happens.  Well, the truth is many wonderful things happen. However, my very favorite wonderful thing is when the pastor sits on the chancel steps and that familiar tune, “Draw the circle wide,” invites our children from the pews.  Until those familiar chords are struck by the choir master everything is under control—stately and beautiful. The happy sound of that delightful gathering song elicits a joyous explosion as the children from Big Red pour out of the pews and head toward Pastor Raygan who sits on those steps grinning from ear to ear.

I happen to believe that this a magical moment—not just for the children, but for all of us.  Those children scurrying to that Sunday morning rendezvous provide a welcome sense of joy to all of us who have occupied the pews for many long years.  A casual glance around shows smiles everywhere as the children step out of the pews. Little boys not to be restrained fly down the aisle bent on being first.  Little girls already determined to behave as mothers have instructed move lady-like to their places near the pastor. Young mothers and an occasional father bring the tiny ones, reluctantly release their hands and anxiously take a seat on the front row to be ready to rescue the baby if needs be.  Next, the pastor welcomes them with a “Good morning!” They respond half-heartedly and then roar when it is suggested that they can do better. The delightful sound of happy children reverberates off the walls, and this old man is reminded that Jesus said, “Suffer them to come unto me.” Surely this moment of shouting by youngsters, who are comfortable in a place of worship, is a “good suffering” for those of us not so young anymore. 😊

Pastor struggles and imposes a semblance of order while old guys like me are actually praying for the kids to respond innocently to his questions in some totally unexpected way that leaves him stammering and us laughing out loud.

Last Sunday Pastor had in mind to teach the kids about giving and receiving.  To accomplish this goal, he and several helpers handed out big handfuls of pennies to all the kids.  Then he asked how they would spend these pennies. While most answered with “feed the hungry” responses, there were just enough off-the-wall answers to keep most of us smiling if not laughing out loud. 

This holding of pennies went on just long enough to let the kiddies establish a sense of ownership before they were instructed to go down into the pews and give away all of their newly acquired loot.  

I thought, “Well this is a hard lesson,” and I half expected grumbling and perhaps even downright refusal.  There was a quiet moment and more than one of those precious children opened their clutching hands and stared at those pennies.  Then Pastor signaled for them to go and as one they all moved into the pews and with radiant smiles began learning that it is better to give than to receive.

The little boy who approached me had a big smile on his face and handed me his last penny.  I said, “Thank you!” and he replied, “You’re welcome,” and in that moment we were both blest.

Thank you, Big Red Church, for sharing the blessing of your children in a joyful and meaningful way.  Thank you for making our gatherings truly sacred family worship experiences.

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