Church and church

On Sunday morning, Brenda told four-year-old Nellie that we’re going to church today. Nellie asked, “Is that Reeve’s place, or the place where they turn the lights off?”

Now, I thought that was funny. Reeve is the one-year-old son of the leaders of our small group, and we meet at the leaders’ house — Reeve’s house! The place “where they turn the lights off” is the building where we have our Sunday meetings, and yes, the vibe involves very dim lighting.

I like it, though, that she thinks of each of these meetings as “church”. To her, church isn’t a building you go to, it’s a group of people you meet with. That’s pretty good ecclesiology; the four-year-old can teach this forty-six-year-old a thing or two.

Saying good-bye to Christmas

I have a policy in our house about Christmas songs. It’s my idea, my own rule. It’s this: no Christmas songs before Thanksgiving! My own way to stem the tide of Christmas creeping earlier into the year.

So the kids asked me this: when must we stop singing Christmas songs? Oooh, that’s a tough one. I chose New Year’s Day; as good a day as any.

So my four-year-old daughter Nellie asked me why we can’t sing Christmas songs anymore. It was hard for me to explain in a way she could understand that if we keep the songs isolated to that time frame, it makes them that much more special. Maybe she got it; maybe she didn’t.

But Christmas this year was very green — not a snowflake in sight. And today, 17 days after Christmas Day, there are 6 inches of snow on the ground. Ah well, a little late but certainly welcomed. The boys were out with Allie today, snow shovels in hand. They weren’t exactly shoveling, Allie informed me; “more like playing”.

I’m good with that.

Books to read aloud

Here is a list of the books I’ve read aloud to the family. I have a variety of ages, and from four to twelve they listen when I read aloud in the car or at home. In their teen years, they don’t listen to every book. 🙂

You can see from the list that we like adventure, magic, and especially books in a series.

All The Mad Scientists Club books by Bertrand Brinley

All the Redwall books by Brian Jacques (20 out of the 21; the next one is on our list).

All the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage (six and counting).

Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. With eight kids in our own family, this is especially appealing. We also liked Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III.

The Ranger’s Apprentice books by John Flanagan (we’ve read 7 of the 9).

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. We haven’t read The Sword of Mercy; the older girls read it and said it was a little too scary for the littles.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater (Brenda read this one).

Savvy by Ingrid Law.

The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander.

The Brill and the Dragators series by Peggy Downing (Brenda read this series, too).

I’ll add more as I think of them.

Old and young

We went to a baptism celebration yesterday. The vast majority of attenders at our church are in their 20s, which makes for a very dynamic group of people eager to know more about God and follow him. It also makes for some goofy displays.

The baptism was held at a local park which has a large lake. It was a great setting, and about a dozen 20somethings were being baptized, with a hundred more of us standing on the beach to watch. As each person was baptized, their friends gathered around them in the water to pray and rejoice. It was excellent…until it got goofy.

When one young man came up out of the water, someone in the group around him started chanting his name (“Jamie! Jamie!”), and the crowd in the water picked up on it. You know what it reminded me of? It seemed EXACTLY like a frat party, where Jamie would be trying to down as much beer as he could at one go.

This display became contagious, and was repeated after every other person being baptized. (“Lacey! “Lacey!”)

I couldn’t decide whether I was feeling like:

  1. an old fogey who didn’t understand today’s youth
  2. a tolerant dad watching his kids do their best
  3. a disappointed prophet watching an immature display by people who don’t know any better.

Actually, it reminded me of how Moses might have felt when he came down from the mountain and saw the children of Israel dancing around the golden calf. Were they really all that much to blame? As far as I can tell, here’s what happened: Moses went up on the mountain and received the 10 commandments. He came down, wrote them in a book and read them to the people. They agreed to obey, and Moses threw blood on them. (Glad we haven’t kept THAT ritual around.) Then Moses went back up the mountain to talk to God again.

What I didn’t see is him hanging around to give the people guidance on how to follow the commandments, or even explanation of what they mean. So with a list of commands but no leadership or guidance, should we really have been surprised at the result?

So, back to the beach. Am I an old fogey? Am I a benevolent dad? Am I a disgruntled prophet? Yeah, maybe a little of each.