Monday, January 21, 2008

Skipping Church?

Someone from Woodside asked me the other day why they hadn't seen Marcus and Nora in church lately. The truth is that we have been going to church, just not at Woodside. We are taking advantage of my maternity leave to "church hop" (not shop...just hop) and to hear my friends preach, to visit old friends and to worship in new places to see what other churches are doing. It's been great to worship together as a family. It's also been interesting to be anonymous and have no responsibility on a Sunday morning except to worship God (and try to keep my kids quiet in the pew!). Here's an update on our local church tour:

On Epiphany Sunday we went to Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC to hear my good friend Amy Butler preach. The sermon was excellent and the people were very warm and welcoming (Nora loved the nursery). I noted that, at least this particular Sunday there wasn't much congregational singing, and I missed that, although the choral music was beautiful. We were served communion by the ushers and took communion in our pews and it confirmed for me that that way of receiving communion just doesn't feel as meaningful for me as approaching the altar.

The following Sunday was Baptismal Renewal Sunday and we went to Bethesda UMC--the church I served before Woodside. It was special because we got to see a lot of old friends and introduce them to Graham (some of whom said "I didn't even know you were pregnant!"), and because that's the church where Nora was baptized it was very special for us to renew our Baptismal vows there. We heard our friend Jenny Cannon give the sermon and saw the beautiful new chancel renovation (and enjoyed the comfy new pew cushions!).

Last Sunday we went to the church at the other end of our street, St. Luke's Lutheran Church, for their Jazz service. Lutheran services seem a lot like the Catholic Mass to me (all of the liturgy but none of the guilt?) and nearly everything was sung. The music was pretty traditional, except for the accompaniment of a jazz quintet, so that was a little disappointing. But the Postlude, "Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land," was awesome and the musicians really got into it. Their Bishop preached a homily that covered the Gospel lesson, the church's anniversary and MLK in about 7 minutes, and we had communion again, this time at the altar with real wine (which was pretty exciting for us Methodists). Nora's usually in Sunday school or the nursery when communion is served at Woodside, but she was with this week and got to take communion, which was great. Marcus did a good job explaining the significance to her and she enjoyed being part of the ritual. We walked to church, but still managed to be late. We have actually been late to church every week--not on purpose, just because it's been hard to get our act together. I have even more sympathy for the parents of young children in my church now that I am the mother of two.

In the coming weeks we are planning to go to River Road Unitarian Church to hear another friend preach (and because Marcus is interested in how the Unitarians worship) and to Foundry UMC to worship with some friends. We are planning to skip church one week next month because we'll be on Kiawah Island, SC with my mom, aunt and uncle and grandmother, but other than that, we'll be continuing our tour of local churches, and enjoying my stress-free Saturday nights.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Maternity Leave

OK, so this isn't the most "spiritual" of posts...but here's what we're up to:

Today, after two weeks of having grandparents here visiting, Graham and I are spending a quiet day at home together. Nora is back at school (and I miss her already) and Marcus is back at work. Nana and Poppy should be getting on an airplane back to Memphis within the hour. And I am still in my pajamas! Graham is dressed, but needs his diaper changed again, and can't decide if he wants to take a nap or not.

The baby thing is certainly easier the second time around--we are much less anxious and used to be sleep deprived. Balancing the needs of an active three year old with a newborn is a different challenge, but so far we're doing OK. It has been great to have family here, but we are looking forward to getting back into a routine.

The biggest challenge for me is just to be in the moment--to enjoy these days with my baby and not try and do too much. I feel some "church withdrawl" and as I look around the house I am constantly making a list of things I need and want to do. But I remind myself that in seven short weeks I will be back to the church and I will long for lazy these mornings with Graham and evenings doing puzzles and reading books with Nora.