The Fart Heard ’round the Church

Originally posted Dec. 26, 2007

Noah farted in church. Yes indeed, right in the middle of the preacher’s sermon during the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The beautiful, curved oak pews, which ’til then I’d admired and appreciated, served to amplify the effect. Fabulous. We’d considered joining this congregation, but the fart heard ’round the church made me wonder if we’d ever be invited back.

After I got over my shock I began shaking with pent-up laughter. Noah’s eyes, big as moons, slammed shut as he bent over and tried not to erupt again – in a fit of giggles. Holly and my husband Todd, tearing-up he was laughing so hard, tried in vain to hold theirs in. Glancing over my shoulder I saw that the guy behind me was laughing with us, and across the aisle I caught a small smile from the lady sitting there. Hmm. Not a reproachful glare in sight, it would seem, and the Pastor, who, ironically, was sermonizing about the organic vulnerability of humanity, and the fact that the Baby Jesus’ diapers were no doubt smelly too, didn’t miss a beat. All righty then! I suppose there is no better litmus test for a church. Nobody even flinched when Noah farted. These people are cool. Amazing Grace incarnate.

Apparently, this really is billed as a ‘welcoming and affirming church,’ which means they actively accept anyone (even kids who fart), a model I prize for our kids. They also involve kids in service projects which help others, something I’ve been wanting to share with my children. A child who learns how to give knows that he matters to other people, and knows that he has the ability to make a difference.

My favorite poem, “The work of Christmas,” really captures these sentiments:

Christmas begins when the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks.

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost, to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild nations,

to bring peace among people,

to make music in the heart.

-Howard Thurman

As you make your resolutions, consider resolving to share during the coming New Year, and instill a habit of sharing and peacemaking in your children. This won’t be hard. Kids are naturally inclined to help others, and your gifts don’t need to be flashy. Simply bring them along on a visit to cheer an elderly neighbor, or get your kids to help you clean out the closets (making room for all of those fabulous holiday gifts!) and make a run to the Goodwill. Have your children brainstorm for someone to call (who might be house-bound), and offer to do their grocery shopping the next time you go (kids love to run around the store fetching things), or engage your kids in ambushing a busy or tired friend with a treat of surprise shoveling after a snowfall.

Another thought: so often our kids catch us advocating, in a righteous tone perhaps, for better service, etc. Let them catch you making someone’s day, too. Kids are always watching and imitating. Thank the guy who bags your groceries, and if you notice a woman wearing a colorful blouse that really flatter her eyes, just tell her, for Pete’s sake!

Giving of yourself, and committing random acts of kindness without the expectation of anything in return, just feels good. Not a bad thing to learn when you’re young.

No matter what you do, or the details of your particular faith journey (even if you’re not the fart-tolerant type), Happy Holidays

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