Sand in the Gears

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The light burden

January 15th, 2009 Posted in Theology

This past Sunday I took a couple of my sons to St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita. If you’re not familiar with the Orthodox services, a good portion of them are conducted while the congregation stands. After a particularly long stretch of standing, Caleb leans in to me and whispers, “Dad, do we stand so that our legs will hurt and it will remind us of our sin?”

If you want to know what theological worldview you are imparting — and allowing to be imparted — to your children, listen to their questions. I suppose that’s the reason I’m working through so many theological texts when I haven’t the time, because after ten years of being a Christian, and a lifetime of Christianesque teaching before that, I’m beginning to suspect that much of what I thought I knew about God is terribly, monstrously wrong. There’s a Church history between Acts and Augustine, and it’s yet another sign of my pitiable education that I’m only now learning that fact.

It was easier when I smugly believed that John Calvin and his cohorts had sorted it all out. Now I find that the best antidote to Calvin is reading Calvin, which between the illogic and arrogance makes him pale in comparison to the reverence with which I learned to speak of him when I hadn’t actually read his treatises.

I haven’t the time for all this reading and praying, but I can’t set it aside until later. Later is now, because of questions like Caleb’s. I put my arm around him, and shake my head in reply to his question. “We stand because we are in the presence of God and the angels,” I tell him. “We stand because we love God, and that’s because he first loved us.”

Caleb smiles, and nods, and perhaps it’s just an illusion brought about by the strange interplay of lights in this spacious cathedral, but I think I detect a weight coming off his shoulders. Or maybe it’s just the peace that I feel, knowing that even as I’ve let down my children all too often, at least here, today, I found the right answer to a question.