Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I bring my Baby to Church

I recently received a note from a parishioner who expressed their grief over my “extremely” fussy baby in church. While I was initially tempted to rush to my baby’s defense (after all, she really isn’t that fussy), or discredit the accusations in the note, I thought it might be better to spend time reflecting on why I bring my baby to church.

To be honest, having children in church with me each Sunday is a huge distraction to my own personal worship time. At this phase in my life, Sunday worship is less about my own spiritual needs than it is about fulfilling a promise I made to raise my children in the Christian faith and life. Trust me, I would love to kneel in silence and meditate upon the prayers said as the Body and Blood of Christ are consecrated. Instead, I have to instruct my children that now is not the time to be twisting their brother’s arm or smacking their gum. I would love to stand and sing a hymn without the distraction of a little one tugging on my shirt or telling me to stop singing. I would love to pass the peace without having to apologize for my four year old who decided to snarl at the lovely lady sitting in front of us. I would love to sit during the readings, listening astutely to the sacred word of God without fretting over the next squeal that will come from my joy-filled 10 month old. I rest assured that those days will one day come. But for now, my job is to sit with these restless souls as they grow familiar with the profound prayers of our liturgy, the familiar sounds of bells and hymns, and the precious community of brothers and sisters in Christ. You see, I can find silence to pray and meditate at other times. But only through our corporate worship together can I introduce my children to the elements of worship that are the cornerstone of our communion.

Please do not misunderstand me – I am a strong supporter and frequent user of our nursery. If my infant is crying because she is tired or hungry, or uncomfortable for any reason, I take her to the nursery. If my four year old has decided that he can not be kind to his brother for one hour on Sunday morning, I honor the choice that he has made and I take him to the nursery. Our nursery staff provide wonderful care for our children, and I do not hesitate for a moment to take my young children to the nursery. However, I strive to balance the convenience of the nursery with the commitments I have made to raise my children in the traditions of the Episcopal church, knowing that they can only learn reverence for our sacred worship by participating in that worship.

Next time you hear a fussy baby or a restless tot, those of us with young children would greatly appreciate your prayers and support as we train up the next generation of souls who will be entrusted to carry the great traditions that have been bestowed upon us. This commitment to raise our children in the Christian faith is far too big a commitment to do it alone. We rely on God’s grace, and we greatly need the goodwill and grace of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Whoever it was who wrote that note to me – thank you for reminding me to spend a little time reflecting on why I bring my baby to church.


  1. You are braver than me. Good for you.

  2. Just chanced upon your post. I know how it is like trying to juggle it. My husband is not a believer, i bring baby to church alone. I could leave baby in his care and go to service with ease, but i want my baby to be near God.

    So no matter how hard it is to travel there, and sit through the service in peace, i will continue to bring him there.

    I am his mother. If i don't save his soul, no one will.

    (Your lovely babies should have been cute toddlers by now! If you are still reading this blog, just want to let you know, i found strength in your post, far away here in Singapore :)