“Hi Panga de la Panga,” he said into his little cardboard phone with the numbers inked in with my messy writing, “I’ll call you back later. I’m in gospel meeting.” His little bare abs flexed as he reached over to situate his “phone” horizontally, propped up against a bunch of hymn books.

He was quite the sight. He had spent the afternoon brandishing a wooden stick at us all and declaring, “I’m Henwy Mo’gan!” to which we were all apparently expected to scream in terror. Now, bare chested and in his pajama pants, the remnants of his afternoon’s escapades on the high seas, he sat munching potato chips, listening to the gospel, and explaining to his imaginary friend he’d be available later.

He turned to me suddenly. “They can’t hear us, right, mommy?” I don’t believe in lying, so I said no. I probably should have just said yes. Given him at least a vague reason to somehow act like this was worthy of the reverence that it is.

It was just too weird. I couldn’t decide if this was an epic mom fail or if my obvious shortcomings were somehow mitigated by the fact they were at least watching something profitable.

I mean, as mothers, we spend our lives shushing kids through meetings of the assembly. We tell them their bladders are certainly not full, and no, they cannot go. Food is absolutely forbidden. The list of rules and expectations must, for them, seem endless.

And now, all of a sudden? We’re chilling on the couch with a pile of pillows and a bowl of snacks and watching men preach like it’s some sort of evening entertainment.

For my four year old who has been used to attending a meeting nearly every single night of his short life, this whole virtual meeting thing meant basically nothing. It was clear his mind could not reckon the two concepts.

And I can’t blame him. This very morning, I’m sipping my tea while tuning in, when suddenly a random bout of third trimester morning sickness ejected us all. When have I ever had tea while worshipping with the congregation? When have I ever lost my breakfast sitting beneath a pulpit? The whole thing is so contrary to what we have ever expected a church meeting to look like. And, I don’t believe in pretending something is something it isn’t. It’s wonderful for the Lord’s people to be fed and to be able to say hi, but there is a vital, life-breathing component missing when we are not physical gathered with the Lord among us.

There is a lot of speculation over how the return to normal will go.

What I’m wondering is how on earth I will ever reeducate my kids, especially the youngest, on the solemnity and reverence of being in the Lord’s presence. Family devotions and nightly Bible stories and virtual meetings are excellent things, but they simply can’t compare with God’s design for His people to meet.

So, I’m here to ask you: are you on the easy going side like me (imaginary friends and all) or do you make your kids dress up and comb their hair before tuning in? Do you find they have a hard time understanding the seriousness of a virtual meeting? Let me know in the comments!

And before I forget, happy mother’s day to all you fantastic ladies out there!

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