The Peura Family
They are everywhere. Underfoot and climbing over pews. Testing their strength and howling their displeasure. Peering over Mom's shoulder to charm a smile from the normally taciturn man who sits behind. Walking unsteadily as Daddy makes endless rounds, bent over, holding both hands above their heads, steadying them so they don't fall on the uneven cold stone floor. Spitting a raspberry cheer during the sermon. Greedily drinking from the breast, a bottle, a cup. Sleeping as the rest of us watch over them, amazed at their beauty, their goodness, their potential.
Angels, each one.
The babies, the idea of which we eagerly embraced last year, are now born. The sanctuary, the cry room, the nursery and the bathrooms burst with their presence. They fill the rocking chairs in the narthex and our hearts, too. Fifteen tykes make their presence known in ways we had not thought could happen only a few short years ago when we built Peace. They are everywhere.
And their older brothers and sisters do more than amuse their new siblings. They, too, demand attention and space, time and effort, love and care, as they chase each other in circles and make games out of nearly nothing.
Sunday School is a scramble for space, for quiet, for learning. For dedicated teachers and children alike. We hear songs and games and laughter and our eyes turn toward the sounds. Sometimes we are distracted sometimes, enchanted. At times we are taken in by them unawares, remembering scenes from our childhood. But the sound of children laughing pulls on our heart strings.
We hold Adult Bible class, now in the kitchen, now in the nursery, now and again outside or in the back of a van because we experience growing pains. We have added an additional service on Saturday evening trying to make manageable the numbers on Sunday morning. And because we sense that contemporary services are needed we have added them too. And still they come.
We are bursting at the seams here at Peace. Bursting with opportunity to embrace those who are already here and those who newly discover the peace that exists in this place.
As we enter the Nave we are struck with the words overhead "Peace to All Who Enter" and we believe that they apply to us. We sense the warm welcome given a visitor and our oldest member alike. We buzz with conversation before and after the service and, if the truth be told, sometimes during it, too. We open our arms to share the peace during appropriate places in the service, but we open our hearts to our neighbor, too, in the pew across the aisle or across town, bringing a meal or sharing a shoulder when trouble strikes home. We give of ourselves, tell our stories and live our lives, all under the shadow of the cross as we are gathered together around the baptismal font.
We do these things because we are commissioned to do them and because we hear and take seriously the gospel which admonishes us to love our neighbors. We do them because we were brought up that way or we have discovered the Way along the way we have come. We do them because we are ably guided toward the cross by a man who wears a stand up white collar under his cinched white dress each Sunday as he stands before us sharing both the wealth of knowledge that is his and the Christ centered heart which beats within his breast. We do these things because we believe what we say: "I believe in God the Father...God the Son...and God, the Holy Spirit." We do them as we are able though perhaps not as we ought. We do them until it feels right.
"God loves a hilarious giver" is perhaps the best translation of the way we are to return to God what is his anyway. We give not so much until it hurts but until it feels good and makes us laugh. Until it is right for us. Not as we ought, for we ought to give all, not merely a tenth. But as we are able. We give of our money, yes. But we have the opportunity to give of ourselves more as we embrace the new life that grows within us, the journey we find ourselves on and the people who walk in the door searching for God knows what.
We are rugrats, all. Begging for a cookie or begging for forgiveness, it matters not a whit. Charming the ladies by reaching out our infantile arms to be picked up when we fall over our baby feet or sharing hope with one who tells us through tears about a frightening new diagnosis, we lift each other up. Just the same. Either way.
Crowded and busy? Surely. Pressed for space? Of course. Too busy to listen and anticipate each others' needs? No.
So we must listen carefully when the Long Range Planning Committee speaks of growth and how we are to create space for it at Peace. We must listen prayerfully to the noise of the children growing up in our midst. And we must listen most of all to that small voice which comes to us through Eternity and speaks in our hearts.
Space for Peace. Space for peace. Within. Without. Now.