Saturday, February 05, 2011

“I Stand At The Door And Knock, Knock, Knock”

Behold, Behold,
I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock.

Behold, Behold,
I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock.

If anyone hear my voice,
If anyone hear my voice,
And will open, open, open the door,
I will come in.

This famous children’s bible song, known to everyone, is my nephew’s favorite Sunday School song. He often sings it to himself during the week while he is playing with his toys.

The song—music and lyrics both, with lyrics borrowed and adapted from Revelations—is undeniably catchy, and must appeal to children.

Until I heard my nephew sing the song to himself one day during the Christmas holidays, I had not thought of the song since I was a child.

My mother tells me that the song was my favorite Sunday School song, too, although I do not remember having a favorite Sunday School song.

My nephew started Sunday School in September of last year. Apparently things have been going well for him at Sunday School, because he looks forward to going each week. In addition, he must be behaving himself in the presence of outsiders, because my brother and sister-in-law have not been asked to withdraw him.

Sunday School for preschoolers is, above all, about socialization: the kids learn to interact with each other. Aside from singing a few songs and listening to a bible story, the kids spend the hour playing games organized by their Sunday School teachers.

Sunday School, however, is no longer referred to as Sunday School at my family’s church. In the last couple of years, the church has started to call Sunday School “Kids’ Ministries”—except that “Kids’ Ministries” evolves into “Student Ministries” for those in grades six and above.

Other things, too, have changed at my family’s church in the last couple of years.

The church has introduced late afternoon/early evening service on Saturday for those that cannot be bothered to attend service on Sunday morning. Until recent years, when I noticed this peculiarity arising in Protestant denominations, I thought only Roman Catholic churches adopted such practice.

Further, there is now a “traditional” Sunday morning service as well as a “contemporary” Sunday morning service at my family’s church.

The church calendar is becoming more and more complicated!

Most of the new endeavors at my family’s church have come about as the retirement of the church’s long-time pastor, who has served for more than twenty years, approaches. Once the current pastor steps down, I question whether my parents will remain happy in the local Presbyterian parish. I believe it possible that they will revert to The Lutheran Church, in which they both were raised as children—and, surely, the rest of us will follow.

My nephew’s Sunday School is contemporaneous with Sunday morning service, so he no longer attends service with the family. My mother says that our pew now seems empty without him.

My nephew celebrated his fifth birthday at the end of October. It is impossible for me to believe that he is five years old—and yet it is impossible for me to believe that he has not been an integral part of my life since the day I was born. I cannot imagine life without him.

I can see my older brother in him a thousand times over. He is a virtual replica of my brother. I was not around to observe my brother in his earliest years—he was six years old when I was born—but, observing my nephew now, I no doubt see glimpses of my brother when he was the same age.

My mother sees so many similarities between father and son that she says it is often difficult for her not to call my nephew by my brother’s name. That, I suppose, is one of the hazards of being a grandmother.

Joshua and I keep in close touch with my nephew. Every day or so, we send his mother email messages containing amusing pictures or stories for his benefit, and she sits with him at the computer, showing him the pictures and reading him the texts.

Animals are always a big hit with my nephew, so Josh and I send him lots of animal pictures and short animal stories. He especially likes bears of all types—and he wants his parents to get him a bear as a pet!

My nephew knows that Josh and I will return to the Twin Cities soon. He frequently asks his mother whether Josh and I will be back “next week”.

This proves that he now measures the passage of time by weeks, which he did not do one year ago.

I wonder whether this is one of the benefits of attending Sunday School.

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