It was an unusual Sunday for several reasons:
Firstly we arrived early (we are usually late for everything.)
Secondly, Eddie and I weren’t on any rotas -not playing in band, not leading prayers, not helping with crèche.
Because of the two points above we sat in a different pew to normal; in the centre near the back.
I hadn’t been to church for about 6 weeks because I had been staying at home with Star. Helping her to settle and feel safe in our forever family. We did not know how she was going to cope, with so many people, or with noise or with quiet!
Star, age 4, had never been to a church.
And so we sat as a family of 5 for the very first time, together on the same pew.
Hannah was excited that so many people were going to meet her new sister, Ben was quiet.
Then the first song started:
“Tell out my soul,
The greatness of the Lord,
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice,
Tender to me,
The promise of his word,
In God my saviour may my heart rejoice.” (C Boberg)
I was in tears. It was so good to be back in the family of my church singing God’s praise. Surrounded by so many people who had prayed for this little girl for months leading up to this day. They knew her name, they knew she had Down Syndrome, many knew that I loved her before I had even met her. They knew she had arrived and was settling in our forever family before we brought her to church for the first time.
Star was in my arms, looking around happily, taking in this new experience.
Then the hymn came to an end and suddenly there was the sound of loud clapping.
(I should point out that we go to a rural Anglican Church. There were probably about 120 people in church that morning. A few (including me) may raise their hands on occasion. We are stereotypically British. When invited to, we would applaud politely at the end of the marriage vows, or when a child has been baptised to welcome them into our church family. I have never known spontaneous applause at the end of the opening song, or any song for that matter.)
It took me a few seconds to realise where this loud applause was coming from.
Incredibly Star’s little hands, clapping together were filling our 800 year old church building with a joyful sound.
I looked at Eddie – we were both crying. Our plan of sitting quietly, unnoticed in church to protect Star from too much attention was foiled – by Star. Once again, I realise that I should not underestimate her!!
Smiling people were turning to see where the clapping was coming from, and the service leader from the front of the church said:
“Yes Star, you are right, we should have more applause in church. And we are so glad that you are here.”