Yesterday afternoon was our first Messy Church for a while.This meant that I was stupidly anxious. What with Christmas holidays, snow days, school closures and illness it seemed quite possible that numbers would be very low, and though I spend alot of time giving myself the "It's NOT all about numbers" talk, it's surprising how slow I am to hear it.
However, while it was nothing like capacity crowds, there was a good mixture of adults and children, teens and toddlers, church regulars and "Messy Church only"types and we had a satisfyingly messy time exploring the promise to Abram via sand pictures, sponge printed stars, and a whole lot more. As always, when we sat down for tea, the group around the table made me smile and smile. In all its diversity and friendship, it was so much a picture of what the Church should be...I love it.
But it was while we were clearing up that, in time honoured fashion, God hit me between the eyes.
I've mentioned that there was alot of sand about the place - no wonder when "your descendents will be as numerous as the stars in the night sky or the grains of sand on the shore". This meant that tidying up involved carting tons of sand from sand pit to car, never the easiest task.
M & R two splendid lasses from valley church school, whose mums are part of what makes Messy Church so precious to me, had a lovely time transferring the sand from sandpit to plastic sack, and then I picked it up, marvelling once again at just how heavy sand is, and began to make my laborious way to the door. I was intent on negotiating the steps without spilling the lot and was very much focussed on the doorway when I realised that the sack had suddenly become miraculously lighter.
It took me a moment just enjoying this, then a moment more wondering why, before I noticed that M. had come up beside me and was bearing the load from beneath. She's a slight year 5- I could barely see her for the sack, but goodness her help made a difference - and not just to the ease with which I got the sand out to the car.
Without saying a word, one 9 year old reminded her vicar once again just why church, broken, messy, disappointing though it sometimes is, still makes all the difference.