What follows is an incomplete list of what we need in church:
We need babies in church. We need their cute faces and cute noises. We need to see the beauty of their sleep, and we need to clean up their puke every so often. We need to hear their surprised scream when the water is poured over their head, and we need to see the surprised look on their faces when they are lifted up before the congregation and pronounced the newest member of G-d's family.
We need toddlers in church. We need them to be there in the middle of worship. We need them to make noise and to run up and down the aisle. We need them to bring crayons and cheerios into the sanctuary. We need to see them watching everyone else during worship, and we need to see them learning the rituals with their whole bodies before their intellect is ready.
We need children in church. We need them to interrupt our worship, since they already interrupt the other parts of our life. We need to see them grow week by week. We need to see them singing Kyrie Eleison when we didn't know they had learned it. We need to see them praying the Lord's Prayer while pushing trucks up and down the back of the pew. We need to watch as they form community with fellow church members more easily than adults often do. We need them to remind us what it is to be fully present in the moment as a child of G-d.
We need teenagers in the church. We need to roll our eyes at them as they roll their eyes at us. We need to hear their questions about G-d and faith and life; and we need to honor their questions, remembering that we too had similar questions at that age. We need to listen closely through their dispassionate affect to hear where their real passion lies. We need to give them a space apart that is their own, and we need to give them a real voice that is not apart, but heard and valued as much as any other.
We need young adults in the church. We need to prayerfully walk alongside their faith journey as they discover what it is to be an adult in this world. We need to provide a safe place for them to share their joys and frustrations as they encounter the reality of adult life. We need to encourage them to take leadership in the church. And as they take leadership in the church, we have to give actual authority to make changes; otherwise, they're just our puppets, and it's not real leadership. We need young adults in the church, so that they can share the vision for the future G-d has given them.
We need adults in the church. We need adults who have children, and we need adults who don't. We need married adults and single adults. The church needs their pragmatism. We need their maturing faith, and we need their dual concern for maintaining the church they've been given, and for handing on what they've found valuable. We need to hear their struggles with family and job, their struggles with faith in the face of a world that's changing all around them. We need to acknowledge the beginnings of their recognition of their mortality.
We need elders in the church. We need their wisdom, and we need to listen to their stories, which can share a mature faith. We need to slow down a little bit to walk with their failing hip or eyesight. We need to remember and respect the way they have lived this faith they are handing down.
We need the able-bodied in church. We need their strength to maintain our physical structures, and to help those in need. We need see in their physical beauty a reflection of the beauty of all of creation.
We need the disabled (physically, mentally, emotionally, developmentally, etc.) in church. We need to be reminded that everyone, without exception, is created in the image of G-d. And we who don't have the need for particular accommodation need to make room and provide resources for those who do.
We need immigrants and people from other lands in church. We need to hear different accents and languages. They remind us that, though the people were scattered from Babel by language, they were not abandoned by G-d; and they remind us that G-d does not speak exclusively English.
We need the poor and the rich in church together. We need to be reminded that often financial well being is more powerfully divisive than skin color or political affiliation. We need to learn how to give to each other out of our abundance, and then to learn to give out of that which we think we cannot live without. We need to learn to give for the benefit of the other, and for our own benefit.
We need each other in church. No matter who we are, we need each other.