The First Last

I’m sure I’ve already experienced some lasts of my time in Chicago and just didn’t notice.  Yesterday’s last was tough… my last time in children’s church.

You see, the first thing I did once I decided Chicago Tabernacle was where I was supposed to be was to join the children’s ministry.  I had taught Sunday school for several years, but I hadn’t been in children’s church probably since I was a child.  I had taught larger groups of children than what we had at that time, but never such a wide age range and for the entire length of a Sunday service.  It was definitely stretching, but a stretching that felt good, not painful.  A few months after joining as an assistant teacher, they asked me if I would be a team leader.  Sure.  I had a marvelous team… DL, Ashley and GiJey.  Ashley decided to call us DBAG.  DBAG is Da Bomb, was her motto for us.  A year or so later when the ministry director decided to move to jr. high, they asked me if I would work with Pastor McCall to lead the children’s ministry.  Then Pastor McCall left.  So there I stood, feeling my way along, quite blindly it seemed most of the time.  I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  What I did know was that I love Jesus, I love these kids and I want these kids to love Jesus.

The past two years heading up the children’s ministry have been tough at times.  Fyi… one should never be thrown into writing curriculum (especially when you start out behind) and leading worship with children can kind of be like leading worship with a group of pigeons.  Over the the last two years, I’ve probably spent as many (or more) Sundays in children’s church as I did in the main service, but honestly it has been worth it.  It requires a lot more of a person, me in particular, to be in children’s church ~ more preparation, more prayer, more time in the word ~ than it does to plop your fanny in a seat and watch someone else lead worship and someone else pray and someone else give you a nice sermon which you can choose to respond to or ignore.  Thus the growth which results from being in children’s church week after week.  Although, it is such a blessing to be able to fanny-plop and just absorb the preparation others have invested 🙂

Usually on Sunday mornings I’m running around making sure everything is getting done and just generally headless-chicken like.  Yesterday while everyone was setting up, I stood just kind of staring, not really knowing what to do.  I got a little teary-eyed going through the puppet bin and then again looking for thumbtacks.  Talking with Jake, who is doing a phenomenal job heading up the children’s ministry now, I had some seriously watery eyes.  I claimed I had something in my throat, which I did, but the tears were there before the coughing.

I taught the lesson, which I haven’t done in a couple months.  The kids seemed more attentive and responsive than they have in a long time.  Except the two girls in the back.  Three times I had to call them down for passing notes.  Finally one of the other teachers took away the notebook, but not before Haley stuffed a paper under a box.  As we were lining up to go to the next session, she went to retrieve the paper from under the box.  My eagle eyes spotted her so I went to take it from her and give her some sort of reprimand about not passing notes in church and listening to the teacher, blah, blah, blah…

I opened the note only to get teary eyed again.  One side said “Ms. Becky we will miss you a lot.” with hearts and flowers like only 8 year old girls can do.  The other side said “We love Ms. Becky” with the signatures of all the little girls in class that day.  I felt like such a poopy face McGee!

At the end of service when we broke into prayer groups, I somehow managed to be left out with no kids to pray with.  I spotted one of the boys in the back and walked over to him.  I asked him what he was doing and why he didn’t get in a group to pray.  He looked away and said he just wanted to pray with me instead.  Hello, tears… again!  Now, this isn’t one of the sweet little guys who routinely give me hugs that I might expect to ask me to pray with them.  No, this is one of boys who is… well, he gets pretty upset with me at least once everytime I’m in children’s church.  He’s quite spirited. But we had such a precious few moments as he held my hands and prayed with me.  I know God gave him such an exuberant heart for a special reason.  Only time will tell how God uses all that energy.

As the kids left, I gave each one a hug, if they wanted it or not, and reminded them that I love them and just because I’m moving doesn’t mean I’m leaving them.  They will always be in my heart and in my prayers.  Then I lingered.  Oh, how I lingered.  I really didn’t want to go.  But go I must.  There was a time when these kids needed me, there wasn’t anyone else to lead them.  But now they are in good hands, better than my own.  There are other children who need me more than my precious ones here at Chicago Tabernacle.  So I must be obedient and go find them, even if it’s hard to leave the ones I love so much.

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