This week I got to play church with a five year old.
She and her teenage sister and mom met with me to prepare for the girls' baptisms next month. It didn’t take long before we were in the sanctuary, as I walked them through the mechanics of the font, the three scoops of Father-Son-Holy Spirit water, and the sign of the cross made on the forehead. I went through the whole rigmarole (minus the water), and then it was my turn. I knelt down to the five year old so she could practice on me. I talked her through it. There’s the water. The cross. And the blessing. A baptism.
We’ve played church before while her parents looked on with much amusement and amazement. She loves the handheld microphone and telling other people what to do. (These things she associates with leading worship. Hmmm…). This time, she confidently walked up to the lectern where the big Bible sits. And she spoke clearly. “Welcome to worship,” she said, while I melted into the floor…
Play is so serious. My sister and I used to play wedding with a friend of ours next door. We would fight over who would wear the secondhand wedding dress we kept in the plastic tub of play clothes. More often than not, though, I would end up in the pastor’s role—presiding over numerous fake weddings when it was too rainy to play outside.
Much later, I watched the first woman pastor I really identified with preach her heart out, and something in me clicked into place. Years after that, while I preached in an enormous sanctuary, I saw one girl, maybe 11 or 12 years old, look at me with an expression I recognized immediately. For that girl—and I don’t know now where she is—I think the world shifted.
It’s already time for me to back off my mic a bit and share it. Because there are little girls ready--and willing--to speak.
For some related musical goodness, check out "Pendulum Swinger" here by the Indigo Girls.