You are doing something really important. We know that it's not easy, and we know that you probably come to church feeling tired and stressed. Parenting is tiring. We know that you may worry about your baby crying, cringe as your toddler asks an awkward question in a voice that is anything but a “church whisper” or beg your child to keep still and be quiet as you feel everyone's eyes on you. Actually no-one is looking, or if they are it is with pleasure at having you here, not with disapproval – we have brought our own children to church and we know what it's like.
What you are doing is so important. When you are here the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn't about bible study or quiet contemplation, but about coming together to worship God as a community, a real family where all are welcome. When you are here we have the reassurance that this place won't be empty within ten or twenty years. Children are learning how and why we worship: they are learning that faith and worship is important.
In the midst of the cries and the giggles and the rustling crisp bags we see the children learning. We see children happily moving around to share the peace with us all; we see the smiling faces as the little ones come to the altar rail to receive their blessing; we watch the enthusiastic shaking of percussion instruments as they join us in the final hymn of thanksgiving even if they can't read the words yet.
We know how hard it is for you to do what you are doing, but we want you to know that it is valued by the congregation. It matters to all of us here at St Margaret's that young families care about faith, a faith that we want to share with them. We want your children to know that worship is what we do as a community and that everyone is welcome to join us. They don't need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship in a particular way to be welcome here.
We know it's hard, but thank you – parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles - for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family is not simply tolerated – you are a vital part of our community as we gather to worship.
The family of St Margaret's Church.