The Word on the Street

A Leaf from the Notebook of a Parish Pastor

Our baby had a baby. Our first grandchild, James Nicholas Madison, was born to Claire
and Nick on Monday, November 14, in Greenwood. It seems only yesterday that Claire
was 3…

I was working in the parsonage office while the girls were playing, with Peter at school. At one point I realized that it had been unusually quiet for a while. I found Grace in
the family room watching a Disney movie, but Claire was nowhere to be found. I called
out: “Claire, where are you?” (silence) Finally she answered: “I’m in the bathroom.”
It was then that I saw that the door was shut. I walked over to discover that it was also
locked. I asked why the door was locked and told her to open it.

Following a brief pause, the lock clicked and the door opened a crack to reveal a look
that I immediately recognized. It’s a look that all of us have worn. It’s the look you are
wearing when the wife you thought was in bed asleep, finds you watching Johnny
Carson with a big bowl of ice cream drenched in hot fudge. Guilty!

I pushed the door open to discover Grace’s paper doll folder lying in the middle of the
floor. “Did you ask Grace if you could play with her paper dolls?” I asked. (pause)
Her words were carefully weighed, but emphatic: “God wants us to share!” It was a
defense that even the best of Christian Apologists would have applauded. “God wants
us to share!” Why, of course! Who – especially her pastor papa – could take issue?
But I sort of had to…

“Yes, Claire,” I said, “God does want us to share, but that doesn’t mean to just help
yourself. Let’s go check with Grace to see if it is ok for you to play with her paper dolls.
If we ask, I’m sure she won’t mind.”

As we made our way down the hallway to the family room, my faith faltered momentarily as the thought crossed my mind that Grace might not want to share her paper dolls. Fortunately, Grace had no problem sharing as long as she could supervise. Therefore, my fatherly instincts had been justified by Grace. And Claire had experienced firsthand the Christian profession (which is quite a different thing than merely hearing
it): “By grace you have been saved, through faith…” — Ephesians 2:8

What a marvelous little lesson in practical theology

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