World Missions Sunday
....one of my favorite services. The teens that will be going on mission trips proceed down the long church aisle carrying first the cross, then all our nations flags, with the missionary families following. The flags bow to the cross and then are placed in stands across the front. At the end of the service, teens carry boxes to each pew and collect the commitment cards and offerings of missions support and then place them at the feet of the missionary families. Then the teens reverse the flag ceremony to lead the missionary families out of the sanctuary.
This Sunday, my oldest was the cross bearer. I knew I would miss him in the early service because I would be carrying out my duties in the shadow program during the first service and the Sunday school hour. I told him to make sure he does it in the late service!! I did not want to miss Jack carrying the cross because he is a senior and this would be his last time participating, after 3 years of carrying a flag. I knew I would have little time, but I planned to leave my new special friend with her teachers for the last 5 minutes and then quickly get up to the balcony in time to see Jack enter the sanctuary. I would drink in another "last moment" in his teen life, as well as enjoy the true spirit of the World Mission service.
I need to leave but my little friend is having trouble with parents picking up the other kids. It is transition time. I am needed.
My friend is picked up by her family and I am free to walk briskly to the sanctuary.
I have now been stopped by several people with immediate needs and those needs are leading me further from the sanctuary.
I firmly tell my last stop, "I am sorry! I have to go! My son is carrying the cross!"
As I quickly walk toward the sanctuary, I hear the music and the congregation singing NOOOOOOOOOO! I am going to miss him! I break into a run, not a quick walk, not a half jog half walk, a complete run-with-heels-hittin-booty sprint. I don't even care that I am weaving in and out of the crowd of people that obviously had attended the early service. I dodge the elderly on walkers, I run through the bamboo decorations from the weekend Kids Mission Festival, I yell "sorry. sorry. excuse me." I run up stairs to reach the balcony and just before I push the door open, I realize....ohhhh noooo, this leads to the choir loft! Huffing and puffing I run back down those stairs and startle a passing young family with a frenzied yell, "where are the stairs to the balcony!!!!!!??" The lady laughs and calmly and slowly says, "w e l l n o w, m a r g a r e t, h o w l o n g h a v e y o u g o n e t o t h i s c h u r c h a n d y o u d o n ' t k n o w w h e r e.....WHERE ARE THE STAIRS!!!?", I cut her off and any mission-sunday-spirit I had been feeling left me completely. I bug my eyes at her husband. With a stunned and half-scared look, he points to the stairs around the corner.
I run up the stairs, hit one landing and run even faster, skipping steps....
I tripped and fell UP the stairs, with my large purse full of scissors, matching cards, and play-doh flying up to the ceiling.
I hear the same lady giggle behind me as I turn and breathy gasp, "shut up".
I arrived in the balcony as the last of the flags were headed to the front.
I was shaking from the run, aching from the blog worthy fall, and teary because I had missed it. I missed Jack.
I missed the wonderful feeling that the ceremony gives me. I missed it. I missed it.
Blinking back tears, I scanned the front to see where he had placed the cross. I couldn't find it. Trying to stop my heavy breathing, trying to keep from ugly crying, trying to ignore my hip that could possibly now be out of place, I slipped into the back pew. Disappointment covered me like a heavy blanket. What a loser mom!
Then I noticed the flags were stopping at the front and bowing.....BOWING! That's right! He doesn't place the cross in the stand until the end! I move out of the pew....
The young man standing in the middle of the stage was my Jack. He had been there the whole time. I not only missed him walking down the aisle, I missed him standing in front of the congregation because I was looking for baby Jack. What I found was a young man!
I watched him stand firm as the last flag bowed and passed by the cross. I watched as he walked down the steps and out of my view.
Sad that I did not get the morning that I had been anticipating all weekend, I grabbed up my bag and left the balcony. I hobbled to my car, with my bag sloshing. SIGH.... I forgot I put my coffee thermos in my bag....still full of the coffee I didn't drink due to the busy morning. It wasn't full now and my play-doh smells like a starbucks.
I drove home. I changed clothes. Then it hit me....CRAP! I could have stayed for the end. The procession out of the church.....and oh! no!....I didnt even stay to see Max perform his duties.
Then when my sons came home and walked in the door "did you see us?"
I cried again, as I said, "and this was your last time, Jack."
"It's ok, mom, next time I will be walking in as the missionary."
That just made me cry more.
I am so glad that my salvation and worth does not rest on work and ceremony!
Lift High The Cross- without it, I would be nothing