Monday, February 14, 2011

Sermon Mom

Today was my turn to deliver the children’s sermon at church. I don’t do this very often because kids intimidate me – first, they are much smarter than I ever was at their age - okay, I admit it, they are so much smarter than I am at my current age. Second, they usually look at me like I’m weird because - I am. And third, the last time I was in charge of Sunday school some of the kids escaped and went running around the church in search of Kool-Aid, and as I recall, a couple of those kids had ditched their diapers. And fourth, when faced with kids staring at me in front of the church I have this tendency to do the Lucille Ball freeze. I simply cannot remember what I was going to say, which means I talk until I think of something to say, which means it may or may not have a point.

But that was 25 years ago, so when Brad told me I was to give the children’s sermon I reminded him that I’m not a good children’s sermon person. “You can do it,” he said, “I’ll help you.” So, in a weak moment I said yes, and found myself mid-way through church – sitting with the kids up in front, with a microphone in my hand trying not to melt down.

Today the sermon was about paying attention to the things God wants us to do, and listening to Him. I gave Brad instructions to call me on my cell phone a couple of times during the message so I could make a point about “tuning in” to God, and not being too busy to pay attention to what God is trying to tell us.

Well. I started talking to the kids. The phone rang. “I have to take t his call,” I said, and chatted a moment and then hung up. The kids looked at me like, “Are you for real? A cell phone in church?”

So I turned back to the kids, and Brad called my phone again. This time it was a text message, so I said "excuse me" to the kids and then texted back.

And so it went. I thought I was actually doing well with getting my point across when the cell phone rang for the last time. Now I couldn’t have scripted this any better myself, but my son decided he'd better set me straight - so - he got up from his seat, walked to the front of the church, and leaned into my face.

“Mom, you off cell phone, NOW!”

Oh. My. Lord. He actually thought I was talking on the phone during church, and offended? Yes indeed, he’d had just about enough of that.

Later on our way home in the car I said, “Honey, I wasn’t really talking on the phone during church.”

“Yes eee are,” he said, indicating that this was exactly what I was doing.

“Well, yes, I was, but it wasn’t real.”

He put his hands on his hips, like, are you even kidding me? Just what are you trying to pull here?

“I was just pretending.”

“Come on, Sherry,” he said. The kid had a point – I was on the phone. It’s just that sometimes Charley’s Down Syndrome prevents him from understanding the abstract.

“Honey, I was giving the children’s sermon,” I said.

“Stop it mom, you no Daddy. You no Sermon Man.” (That’s what he calls Brad.)

“No, I’m not the Sermon Man, I said, I’m the sermon Mom.”

Well he thinks this is hilarious and laughs out loud. “You funny homan,” he said. (woman)

“What, you think I can’t give a sermon?”

“No not.”

“Trust me, Moms can give sermons.” (At church it’s the sermon according to Brad – but at home? It’s the gospel according to me – especially when someone has forgotten to clean his room, pick up the coke cans off the floor, or other unmentionable, disgusting habits).

"Remember the sermon on the mount?"

"Mount?" he said with this bewildered look on his face.

"Yes, mount - the sermon you got when I couldn't see over that MOUNTain of clothes you had in the middle of your floor."


“Tell you what, next time YOU can give the children’s sermon,” I said.

“Stop it Mom.”

“Why not? You are so much like your Dad.”

“I like him,” he said, flashing that irresistible grin of his.

“I do too.”

So I kept talking – looking at the road, driving. “You see,” I said, I was trying to tell the kids that when someone is talking we shouldn’t be preoccupied with things like cell-phones and texting. We need to tune in and pay attention. That way we make people feel valued. It’s a way we show people that we appreciate them. You understand son?”

“No response.”

“Charley, are you listening?”


I look over at him – he’s got his headphones on, listening to the soundtrack GREASE.

So I drive on a few more minutes, contemplating a detour through the Krispy Kreme drive-through window – after all, I believe I can justify that it’s been a two-donut morning - but then I reconsider because I need gas more than I need do-nots and only have so much cash in my pocket, and wait-a-minute – what’s that noise? Or should I say lack of noise?

He’s quiet again. Now. Now is the time to get my point across – go for it Sherry, jump right in there…

“Honey, sometimes we are called to listen. That means we are to stop all the noise – the cell phones, the music, the donuts, the talking.”

No response.

“Charles Benjamin, I’m trying to talk to you.”

Still no response.

“Charley Palmer, are you listening to me?”

I look over at him – he’s asleep.

Can’t say I blame him.