Monday, December 19, 2016

A Theology Quiz from a Three-Year-Old

Louisa has a freakishly sharp memory for a three-year-old. She’s been picking up on prayers, songs and stories for many months now. It’s really fun to see how quickly her mind absorbs, but sometimes it ends up back-firing on me (and I’m not just talking about the more unsavory words she’s picked up as of late…!). Lately I’ve been singing a lot of Christmas songs. It’s my form of worship and wind-down while I clean the kitchen and prepare meals. Usually Lou is at the kitchen table, and I assume she’s too busy with her coloring to really listen, but now the questions have started. I’ve never attended a seminary, but I’m officially getting quizzed in theology by a pre-schooler.

Louisa: “How did Jesus make the world new? What was the old world like?”
“Uh…well…I guess He made it so people could get into heaven…in the ‘old world’ people couldn’t get into heaven...?”
And then I thought deeper.
What was the world like without hope of heaven? No wonder the world was pining, weary, waiting for the thrill of hope. I thought of those righteous people who had passed before, waiting, waiting, waiting for Jesus’s descent into Hell to bring them into the gates of Heaven.
On a sidenote, it took me a long time to figure out from which song she had gotten the “new world” concept. Can you guess? After mentally running through my usual selection of Christmas songs, I figured out that it was “Mary, Did You Know?” which is a song that I learned after a Baptist girl from my high school convinced me to accompany her in a duet for our “winter” concert.
Louisa: “How long was the “old world”? Was it forty five thousand eleventy million twenty five days that he was in his mama’s belly?”
“Well, no, the world was around for many, many years, but He was in His mama’s belly nine months. That’s how long it takes to grow a baby.”
And then I thought deeper.
 I remembered being pregnant with her, my first daughter, back in the days when I had time to read the weekly emails updating me on my baby’s development. I remembered being twenty weeks pregnant, just starting to show and eager to learn the baby’s gender. I opened that email and learned that my banana-sized baby had millions of itty-bitty eggs in her teeny-tiny ovaries. How beautiful, I had thought, I’ve been carrying you (at least my genetic contribution) all of my life. And already you hold the seeds to carry on our lineage. Now I looked at her and thanked God for choosing to bring her to fruition among those millions of eggs, this girl who would ask me such profoundly confounding questions.

I thought of Mary, as a twenty week fetus, already holding the genetic code that would later become Jesus. Walking through her childhood full of grace from within. Humbly giving her “yes” to grow the child in her womb. I supposed Jesus was in Mary’s “belly” all of forty five thousand eleventy million twenty five days.
Louisa:What is ‘adore’?”
“It means Baby Jesus was cute. Like everyone thinks your baby brother Otto is cute and adorable.”
And then I thought deeper.
Surely when we are exhorted to “Come let us adore Him,” it means more than to admire His bright eyes, smooth skin, and wispy baby hair. I looked up the definition of the word and found that I had given Lou an especially pathetic answer on this one.
Adore; (verb) love and respect (someone) deeply
To adore Jesus is to love Him deeply. And not just as an adjective feeling love, but as a verb action love. To adore Jesus is to want to spend time with Him, get to know Him better, share His love with others, and make ourselves more worthy of Him.

After this Christmas season, I’m thinking my New Year’s resolutions might have to include brushing up on my theology. This girl is sure to keep me on my toes!

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