For the most part, we’ve taken the “just stay quiet” approach to church. The kids bring children’s bibles and during the sermon they’re allowed to read them. It’s not a great idea, and during 2010 we started transitioning to having them actually pay attention to the sermon.
The first day of the new policy seemed to go well. During Father John’s sermon, both kids stood rigidly at attention, their eyes wide. It was all about the story of Lazarus and the rich man, where the poor guy goes to heaven and the rich guy to eternal torment.
As it drew to a close, both of the kids tugged at me, clamoring for my attention. I shushed them, and pointed to my youngest: “you first.”
“Daddy,” the little guy said. “Why wasn’t the rich guy going to heaven? He didn’t do anything wrong. Why won’t he go to heaven?”
“Don’t worry,” I whispered. “I’ll explain after church.” There was no way I could explain the story during church. Besides, I needed the time to prepare what I was going to say.
“Okay,” he said.
I turned to my oldest. “Okay, big guy,” I whispered. “What did you want to ask?”
He turned troubled eyes to me. “How is is Uncle going to get out of the prison at Ba Sing Se?”
I blinked. “What?”
“There’s no way,” he said. “He’s in a prison all by himself, but he has to get out. If he doesn’t – ”
“Wait,” I whispered. “We’ll talk after church.” He was talking about Avatar: The Last Airbender, a cartoon we’d been watching on television. One of the main characters, Uncle, was currently in prison.
“But-” he said.
“Just wait,” I said. “This is church. We’ll talk later.”
I’m thinking that reading children’s bibles during the sermon actually isn’t such a bad idea.