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Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

I’m sorry, but yes they will.

Some will step off accidentally and stumble right back on.

Some will wander off, oblivious to your calls and whistles.

Some will investigate that very pretty flower over there.

And some will test the boundaries every step of the way.

They most certainly will venture from it. It’s how they find their own way along a path with distinct boundaries but invisible guardrails. Kids are a distractable lot and tweens and teens are a naturally inquisitive bunch. Perhaps this is why we are advised to “start children off on the way they should go.” Children pay attention; they’re sponges for everything they see and hear.

One Sunday past, I sat behind Carly, a young mom, cradling her infant in a front pack. Her 2 year old son, Avery, stood next to her on the fabric seat of the pew. Grandpa had brought him in, but he wasn’t holding Avery’s hand. This boy was perfectly balanced; he was an experienced pew-stander. He demanded I shake his hand when the time for greeting was announced and then he remained standing for the anthem that was to follow.

Little Avery’s face just glowed with anticipation. Before the first chord, his happy voice rang out, “Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!” Smiles on several faces looked his way, but Dad was focused on the music and its message. Avery’s dad Josh sang,

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus…

from, This I Believe, by Hillsong Worship

Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!, sang Avery.

The promise we make to the children of our church upon the occasion of their baptism is this: “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

Start children off on the way they should go, and …
…. even though they may wander and explore and adventure on their way, …
when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (with my additions)

Oh, children… how wonderful it is to teach them. How magnificent it is to learn from them.

Flying standby

Why do we wait to book our flight?

  • The fare might drop.
  • My plans might change.
  • I don’t want to get locked in.
  • What if something better comes along?

Sometimes there’s no avoiding it. We have to travel at the last minute and we’re at the mercy of the airlines to get us on that flight. We are forced to fly standby.

I remember flying standby with my family when I was a kid. We traveled to visit my grandparents in Minnesota for Christmas where there was snow and cold and fun. When it was time to go home, we were shuttled to the airport where we sometimes sat for hours at the gate hoping to get on the next flight. Somehow, we always did, but it could be a very long wait.

I would watch the screen behind the airline clerk with our flight details and wait for her to call our names. There were no other screens back then. Just books and homework were meant to keep a kid occupied. So I learned to wait and to watch while I waited.

I watched the other passengers, happily engaged in their books or their conversations. They had their seat assignments.

I watched the airline personnel behind their desk, shuffling papers and boarding passes and occasionally calling up lucky passengers to offer them a seat.

I watched my dad pace back and forth. He was not a patient waiter. He was a frequent traveler and, I expect, knew how to work this system — which was probably why we were working the system. I waited and I watched, but I didn’t worry. Because my dad would handle this.

Stephanie with coffee is just glad to be aboard.

Now, years later, I am not a good flyer. I count on making a reservation and having an assigned seat. I’d rather book ahead, even if the fare might drop or my plans might change, just to avoid the worry of the watching and waiting. I don’t trust myself to be a smooth operator. I’m not a frequent flyer.

Perhaps this is why I have a seat in the sanctuary on a Sunday. Oh, it’s not reserved. Anyone can sit there. I don’t rush to get on board because there’s plenty of room. But I board this flight because I know it’s going somewhere and I want to go with it. It’s funny to think my Father has settled this for me, too.

As I left 9:15 worship last Sunday I noticed a crowd of people seated in the gathering area, eyes focused on the screens where the 11:00 service will be live-streamed. They were quiet and waiting in anticipation, satisfied to watch worship on the screens overhead. Why not go in and get a seat in the sanctuary? Why are they waiting to book their flight?

Perhaps for some of the same reasons we wait to book our airline trip.

  • The fare might drop.
  • My plans might change.
  • I don’t want to get locked in.
  • What if something better comes along?

For me, the waiting is way worse than the booking. In fact booking allows me to read my book and sit and chat happily with the other passengers in anticipation of lift off.

Isn’t that expensive? Yes, but Someone has forked over the fare.

Isn’t that risky? Only if you’re worried about a crash. We’ve got a Father who is handling the details so I need not worry. He’s not like my earthly dad who paces and works the system. He is the system. In the days without screens, perhaps it was just easier to see this.

Imagine climbing aboard and having the flight attendant usher you to the seat reserved just for you on an all-expenses-paid trip to the destination of your choice. Would you settle for watching on the big screen? Or would you go?

How are your reflexes?

Stimulus–response. An amoeba does it. A Venus fly trap does it.  A snake does it. We do it.

A tap on the knee and our leg kicks out, all by itself!  Automatically, without consulting the rest of us. Even our brain is surprised. Reflexes are part of our programming designed to protect, support and allow us to move even without our permission. A sign we’re alive! Some things are just too important for a committee decision.

This morning I read, “True worship is a response to God’s glory, the evidence of God’s presence and power displayed in our lives…” (Christy Bailey, Devozine magazine)

What if worship was more than a worship service? More than a good sermon? More than a praise song? More than a few bucks in the offering plate? What if worship was stimulus-response, any time, anywhere? What if, when God got my attention I let my reflexes do the responding. What if…

  • When God taps me, I respond.
  • When God touches my heart, I cry.
  • When God tickles me, I giggle.
  • When God calls me, I turn.
  • When God whistles, I look up.
  • When God calls me to dinner, I come to the table.
  • When God shows me a miracle, I stand still.
  • When God thinks in me, I write.
  • When God writes to me, I correspond.
  • When God speaks, I listen.
  • When God whispers, I lean in.
  • When God invites, I accept.
  • When God hugs, I sigh.
  • When God kisses, I smile.
  • When God takes my hand, I squeeze.
  • When God opens a door, I walk through.
  • When God says, I do.
  • When God does, I join in.
  • When God sends a sunrise, I applaud.
  • When I see God, I point him out.

If God and I have a reflex relationship, there’s no sense beating myself up about a missed opportunity, any more than I’d chastise my leg for not kicking when the doctor tapped my knee with the hammer. And it’d be pretty silly to kick later hoping to get full credit. I would have to be extra careful about responding from fear or anxiety, though. You know what a haunted house can do to your reflexes.

Imagine, something as simple as ‘stimulus-response’ wired in so God and I can connect 24-7.

At 9:35 am God said, “Good morning” in the dazzling rays through my window.

I said, “Good morning, sunshine.” And there was worship on a Wednesday in my kitchen.

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