Boston and Cambridge are known for their historic churches, and I hope to visit several while we’re here. But when we were choosing a church for worship this last Sunday, we chose the closest United Methodist church, Harvard-Epworth UMC, not because it’s historic, but because we don’t have a car this summer, and I craved the familiarity of the Wesleyan ummah. Harvard-Epworth actually is historic in its own way, sitting at the edge of the Harvard campus. The traditional architecture, the wooden floors and pews, reveal its origins in the late 1800s. We sat near the back, at the end of the pew. I miss pews. Our church in Davis has chairs, and there’s something about the communal aspect of the pew, and the hardness of the wood, that connects me to others and reminds me of the comfort of discipline.
John and Paloma in many ways are typical p.k.s (pastor’s kids). In worship, they are restless, and often noisy, forgetting or ignoring the propriety required of church goers, talkative during the children’s sermon, sometimes waving at me or even coming to visit as I sit behind the pulpit. They are forgiven these things in Davis, but I wondered if this congregation would be so accommodating. It is Cambridge after all, and I presume a formality here that contrasts with our very informal northern California college town.
I was especially worried about the trio of older women in front of us, and thought that we were undoubtedly disturbing their worship experience. But as they turned to pass the peace near the end of the service, they smiled warmly at the children and told them how proud they were of them for their answers in the children’s sermon. Their welcome was genuine, and I was grateful once again to be a part of this communion. It was clear that they saw these children not as nuisance but as promise and hope: cherished baton receivers in the generational relay of faith.