Blessings from the Back Pew

I originally wrote this post for our church’s blog in Spring of 2015, just before we said farewell to embark on a journey that would take us across the country for continued training in ministry. We have both been blessed to serve, both as singles and as married, in many churches in various roles and ministries. Each of these churches holds a special place in our hearts.

“Reserved for the elderly and families with young children” reads the white sign with bold red letters. These signs are laid carefully on the seats of the last few pews in the church sanctuary every Sunday. These seats are reserved for the oldest and the youngest of the church. People like me, a mother with young children. I am so thankful that we can count on seats for our family of little ones, and also that we can be grouped together with the most honored saints of our church family, the elderly. It is comforting as a mom of young ones to be surrounded by those who have gone before us, who have weathered the storms of life and walked through years of sanctification and maturing in the faith, and who can look back on life and encourage us with stories of the faithfulness of Christ.

For the past three years, I’ve had the honor of sitting in the “back pew” with our children, from the earliest days of infancy with our youngest two as they approach the day when we introduce them to the nursery. I know that when I’m holding one of my kids while they peer over my shoulder, and they suddenly smile, that someone is either smiling, waving or making a cute expression to them!

I wanted to share this reflection with you, because I want you to know, Sun Valley Church, how very beautiful you are to us. You are a part of the Bride of Christ. As I have sat at the back of the church these past three years, I have worshipped along with you. And once in a while, I look around. I look at all of you… and I smile. I see you worshipping God, heads bowed, hands raised, moms and dads holding babies and toddlers, a husband’s arm around his wife, a head nodding, and an occasional glorious “Amen” sounding from the very back. I think of all the various ministries represented by each person in the church and in the community. It is beautiful. The beauty causes my heart to sing even louder, the smile on my face to grow wider, the tears to flow faster, and my hands raised higher… to our Redeemer. We are the Body of Christ together.

Another feature of sitting in the back pew is that usually a little one has fallen asleep on my lap and I may not be able to stand up and walk forward for communion. I am deeply grateful for those who bring the communion bread and cup to us who sit in the back pew, so that we may partake as well. I sing along and I watch. I watch you, Sun Valley Church, as we gather together to stand before the cross, to stand before the elders of the church and come together to receive the bread and the cup. We are the Body of Christ together and we come, each of us, redeemed sinners, to fellowship in the grace of Christ.

“By His wounds, His wounds, will we be healed.

And for our transgressions, His passion has made us well.

Let us come again, and feed on Him, our Lord Emmanuel.”

I am thankful for our little spot in the back pew. It is where we have raised our children, where we have worshipped, where we have watched, listened, prayed, sang, wept, repented, rejoiced, fellowshipped. It is where the youngest in the church have fellowshipped with the eldest of our church. It is where we have grown, received, and been poured back into. It is where a kind, wrinkled hand reaches out to hands that are full; where prayer requests are exchanged and hugs given. These, and the children we carry, are the blessings from the Back Pew.