Advent, indeed

Being a priest is hair-raising business.

All we Christians are priests, prophets and kings. This business fell to us as a result of our conversions, as we began to take our tiny parts in the Messiah’s work. For Christian fathers, this means we are the priests of our households. We oversee the training of our children in righteousness. We order their worship. We answer for the spiritual health of our flocks. We also get to enjoy the firstfruits of our little bits of handiwork–our wee smidgens of vinecraft. We get to see and hear things from our own children which pulpit men never get the pleasure of seeing or hearing from them.

My son, almost five years old, has been budding profusely as of late. I have only God to thank for this. I wish I could say it was due to my hard work, but saying “thank you God for this yummy food”, reading bible stories at bedtime, blessing him as he goes to sleep, spurring his joyfulness in God’s gifts, and the rare swat on the behind isn’t really hard work–well, hard, perhaps, but not in the way I would have used that word five years ago.

In the midst of all the blossoms, it had not occurred to me that we had not learned much about the parousia. John’s revelation gets minimal coverage in a preschooler’s cartoon bible, for understandable reasons. We had hit those pages once or twice, but most of our reading bounces around in the bulk of Jesus’s birth, ministry and death. From this, he has come to believe Jesus was born, made blind men see, was killed on a cross by mean people, came alive again, and is his living friend who he can talk to. Beyond that, it’s sketchy, which is fine–that gives him better odds of seeing heaven than any grownup.

Because of my uneven catechizing, I was unprepared for what happened in this morning’s worship service.

The program was a seasonal service of carols and bells. As always, the praise was exuberant, with a mass congregational ringing of bells on certain choruses. The song and message was fraught with messianic expectation. My son was busy fidgeting and scribbling, as four year olds are wont to do in church. He’d rung the bells and been caught up in a verse or two, but the otherwise unusual atmosphere did not seem to be affecting him overmuch.

As the preacher boomed through his brief but powerful message, his text passed from our worship of the incarnate and risen Lord into the Christian’s final hope. His words rang out: “and he is coming BACK–not as savior next time, but as judge.”

Instantly, my son, whom I thought had been focused on something else entirely at my elbow, raised his head–and an electric shock passed through him as he looked into my eyes. The look on his face for that moment was one of pure adrenaline–an ecstasy mixed with fear, as if he had just stepped into the parlor on Christmas morning to open his presents after getting off a rollercoaster.

“He’s coming back??!!”


~ by mairnealach on December 18, 2006.

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