When I picked the boys up from New Song's children's church Sunday morning, one of their teachers was patiently helping Elliott tape together rings of red and green strips of paper into a long paper chain. At that moment I thought it was simply another cool Christmas decoration we'd be hanging in our house this year. (And one I wouldn't have to drag down from the attic). Ian was waiting in line behind Elliott to get his taped next. Given that it was noon and my stomach was growling, I let the teacher know we'd kindly tape Ian's together when we got home.
Somewhere between home and the last bite of my grilled cheese sandwich that day I forgot about Ian's chain. The next evening, though, Ian asked if we could put his chain together. I told him, sure, I'd help. That's when I discovered each of the rings of the chain had a bible verse written on it. Ian explained to me there was one verse for every day of December leading up to Christmas day. They were to pull one ring and verse off each day and look it up in the bible and read it. The verses are taken from the gospels and the story of the birth of Christ.
Now I'm still not sure if the strips and verses were supposed to be constructed in a specific order or if the Cartwright boys have simply taken it upon themselves to once again defy order. Whichever the case, the randomness of their verses has already created some interesting moments.
Last night Elliott's verse was:
Luke 2:11 - Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
When it comes to reading about the birth of Christ, that's a verse that would seem more appropriate to read on December 25th. But if ever two verses were meant to be paired together to most succinctly tell the story of Christ's birth, we found the perfect mate to Elliott's verse when Ian read his last night.
Luke 1:30 - But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
Now, Ian, being a first grader, did a great job reading this verse out loud. But I could tell it meant nothing to him. So I explained that Elliott's verse was really the end of the story as far as the actually birth of the baby Jesus goes, and his verse was from the very beginning. His verse was about the angel telling Mary that she was going to give birth to the baby Jesus, and that she shouldn't be afraid because God had chosen her for a good reason.
Speaking of afraid, I explained this verse with paralyzing fear that this conversation was going to force me to talk about the virgin birth. Or even mention the word virgin at all. But Ian didn't ask any questions, which for some reason bothered me more than him asking a potentially tricky question. So me being me, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I wanted him to sense the reality of Mary's fear and the calming nature of God's angel. So I offered him the best analogy I could come up with:
"It's kind of like this Ian. What if an angel came to you and said you were going to give birth to the baby Jesus?"
Those words were actually completely out of my mouth and Ian was at least 15 seconds into a troubled and mystified stare when I realized just how stupid that question was to ask. Or at least to ask Ian. If I was paralyzed by the fear of this conversation before, I was lock me in a cage with Fritz and don't let me out until Ian is a dad with a kid of his own scared now. But Ian let me off surprisingly easy. He said, "Dad, that's impossible. I'm not a girl."
Exactly. That's precisely why you can't Ian and I'm sure that's exactly what this particular verse was trying to convey.
I scurried to collect their bibles and tuck them safely away until the next time. This is a very cool tradition we've started. I encourage you to do it with your kids - only go easy on the analogies.