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happy babyChurch can be a place that’s filled with distractions: cell phones with annoying ring tones, old people who cough loudly (and unceasingly), and of course, babies that cry. But what about a kid who’s smiling? Is that a disruption to worship?


In one church, evidently so.


In the 1970s, American humorist Erma Bombeck attended a worship service that she would never forget. Something happened that made her mad. Here’s her account of what happened:


In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling.

Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theater off Broadway said, “Stop that grinning! You’re in church!” With that, she gave him a belt on his hind side and as the tears rolled down his cheeks added, “That’s better,” and returned to her prayers.

Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears and if you’re not, then you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us. I wanted to tell him he is an understanding God who understands little children who pick their noses in church because they are bored. I wanted to tell him I’ve taken a few lumps in my time for daring to smile at religion.


It isn’t a sin to smile. It isn’t a sin to be happy. It isn’t a sin to have joy…even when those around you don’t!


Some may say that church isn’t the place to smile. I can think of none better.



Resource’s Origin:
Dare to Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord! by Erma Bombeck. Ocala Star-Banner, February 26, 1970.



Topics Illustrated Include:
God (Nature of)



(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)