Monday, November 15, 2004

204 The Family and Families of God

The three children in the pew in front of me were sitting with their grandparents. The oldest looked so much like her mother it almost made me smile. She even had the same pouty scowl. Maybe just on the cusp of the teen years--11 or 12. She ran her hands through her dark hair, highlighted with blonde from the swimming pool, to form an imaginary pony tail, and then shook it free. Her little sister, perhaps 7 or 8, then made the same movement with her much darker and richer locks. I remember when their mother outgrew her Barbie dolls and had a yard sale. Must have been around 1975. My daughter and I went over to look at them. At age 8, my daughter was about to outgrow that stage, but she still liked accumulating the clothes even if she rarely played with the dolls.

Three pews in front of that family was another family, a little smaller now that the oldest is in college in Indiana. The mother is small, maybe under 5’4” and the father tall and slender, over 6’5”. Her head was well below his shoulder. All three of their children are tall--fortunate isn’t it, that the boys didn’t resemble Mom and the girl Dad? The boys are at that awkward, growing-an-inch-a-week stage. Perhaps 14 and 15, all arms and legs and pimples. The entire family was dressed in some combination of khaki and gray-blue, like they woke up and said, “What should we wear today?” Dad had his hands in his pockets, feet a little apart while singing, and the two boys were in the exact same stance. Only the touch of auburn hair on the one boy showed Mom had a part in all this. Otherwise, they were their father.

Behind me there was a family with small children, all with colds. Lots of juicy sniffing, sneezing and coughing. Dad whispered, “Josh, stop it,” and little Joshua whines, “But I can’t help it, Daddy.” Then Dad sniffed, but much louder. Joshua’s Daddy was so enthusiastic, he sang along quietly with the male soloist in the mixed sextet leading the congregational singing, a master carpenter with ruddy complexion and black hair. Daddy even hummed along when the female soloist took her turn. The name Joshua means “God is salvation” in the Old Testament and is the name we know as Jesus in the New Testament.

And I smiled thinking about the family of God worshiping together, similar yet different, worshiping Jesus, the master carpenter, trying to sing along, to get along, trying to be what our Heavenly Father wants.

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