Oh ye little faithfuls

10 Dec

On Tuesday night, after ballet practice  and after play practice, and after attempting a relaxing dinner at a restaurant with my friend Kate and her three children, similar in age to mine (We would like a table for 8 please.  yes.  2 adults, and 6 children, including 2 toddlers.  yes, we are insane.), I drove myself and the children around the neighborhoods to calm them before bed and to subdue myself into a trance by staring into the bright lights burning in people’s yards.  I was hoping that it would serve as a mild lobotomy.  And they were playing great 90’s country music on the radio.

We came to a nativity scene and I pointed out the holy family.  We discussed Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherd, the donkey, the sheep, the kings, and Anna asked if one of the kings was Herod.  I knew enough to know that Herod had stayed home and sent the wise men to locate the King of the Jews, so I said “no – that’s a king we refer to as one of the wise men.”  But there are so many kings in the Bible that I’m not surprised she was confused.

Wade told us that Joseph took his family to Egypt to escape from King Herod, and I corrected him – saying that I thought he was confusing Herod with Pharaoh.  I told them that we would look it up when we got home.  So once we got home and settled everyone into some semblance of submission – one in her bed, one contained in the bathtub, and the easy one reclining on the couch, I read them the Christmas story from Luke 1:

 “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

And it turned out that Wade was correct.  An angel appeared to Joseph and instructed him to take his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s plan to kill the baby.  But we read the story of the nativity, and the two older children listened attentively.  Then I took Henry out of the bath, and dressed him in pajamas, and he stated yelling at me.  “Read the Bible to ME, Mom!  In MY bed.”  I asked him if that is how we speak to our mother in this family, and he wisely re-phrased his demand: “peese, Mama?”  So I read it again.  And three year-old, demanding, tyrannical Henry listened quietly, and then settled down and went to sleep.  Which never happens.  Miracle?

I have been told that children are far more sensitive to the nearness of God than adults are.  I don’t know how to explain the events of the household that night, except to say that they were enraptured with the beautiful nativity story, right down to the smallest one.

I was distraught a week or so ago when I decided that my children were too immature and self-focused to take in so much as the idea that we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas.  But somehow, the message of the good news has reached them, and it didn’t come from me.  The night before, on the way to a tree-lighting service at the park, Anna asked me specifically about why God seemed so mean in the Old Testament and so nice in the New.  I told her that in the OT, God visited with His people and gave them his commandments, and taught them how to follow Him.  He wasn’t mean – He has always been good, but that he did expect His  people to follow  His rules. (Isn’t this a relevant parenting message?)

So somehow, in this season of Advent, of early, dark nights, and preparations, my children are soaking in the rich history of Christianity and asking sophisticated, hard questions that I am not really equipped to answer on the spot.  This is a big improvement from “It’s MY birthday.  MINE!”  Maybe there is hope.


One Response to “Oh ye little faithfuls”

  1. MCM December 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    And hope’s the whole point, isn’t it? You’re doing a wonderful job with your crew.

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