My kids are mischievous and genuinely playful. One regularly sings gibberish while in the shower and the other builds gigantic pillow forts for reading time. My days are filled with puns and epic dad level jokes. There is farting and noise, a lot of noise. It would be untruthful to say I always like it. Some days, it’s just too loud and too much and I can’t keep up with the dirty dishes, the stained laundry, the playground sand littering our floor or the incessant chatter and random objects turned into percussion instruments. In some moments, when the fog lifts for a bit, I realize what it means, this excessiveness surrounding me. It’s comfort and safety and assurance of acceptance. In church today, both children passed the time by turning their bulletins into paper airplanes, and I barely stopped them in time before they took flight. One child excitedly said something about how cool it would be if a plane showed up on the video screen for those watching at home and the other mentioned how much ceiling there was to work with in such a large room. They jumped right in with everyone else, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and then right back to giving me puppy eyes about their planes. I assured them that we would find a time to test aerodynamics in the church building, later when there were no lit candles and no live service in progress. It didn’t occur to them that anyone would dislike their use of bulletins for paper projectiles or that their gleeful whispered banter would be disturbing. Likewise, in their minds, why would anyone not think zooming jets through service wasn’t awesome? When I look at the whole picture, when I’m able to step back and see what is happening aside from my exhaustion and efforts to keep my kids from accidentally lighting our church on fire, I realize, again, what it means. Our children feel secure with our church family and in the tangible building. It is filled with people they know want them to be there and who won’t reject them for being themselves. They have no fear yet of finding their own joy in church because no one has shamed them into behaving certain ways. Maybe this is their worship, their version of praise. Sitting in the pew backwards or on the floor, turning the floor into a seat and the pew into a desk, finding the lines of symmetry in the papers filled with words they can read but don’t yet comprehend, making church into something that matches what they need. Christians are quick to quote Jesus saying “let the little children come to me”, but we don’t often think about what that might look like in modern day. I’d like to think that Jesus would have folded airplanes too and maybe even snicker a little bit. Regardless of what I think Jesus would have done, I believe he would want my kids to come to him without hesitation and without shame. I think Jesus would want them to be who they are, not who anyone else expects or wants them to be.