Today we had a Basket Social at our church. As part of the day, I gave tours to visitors. One young man, Charlie*, asked for a tour. He is in second grade, is one of our Sunday School students, and is an altar server (therefore not technically a visitor). I wondered why he wanted a tour since he spends so much time there, but never one to turn down an opportunity to spend time with a cute guy, off we went.
I said to Charlie, “So since you spend so much time here, I’ll let you lead me around and ask me questions. Okay?” He was cool with that. First we explored all the icons of the North American Saints. I told him a little about St. Alexis Toth of Wilkes Barre, who was one of our priests. I showed him our icon of St. Tikhon and the relic in the frame, explaining that he consecrated our altar. We looked at the Tetrapod. Then he wanted to see the table on the left side of the church where confessions are heard.
The table has a kneeler that slides in and out, so I showed him how it worked and I knelt on it. Charlie hasn’t made his first confession yet, so we talked about what that was all about. I read the prayers to him, showed him how I fold my hands and gave him some examples of what a person his age might “confess” to Father T. “You know, Charlie,” I said, “you just talk to God and Father listens. You tell God things that bother you or you know weren’t good things to do like; if you got really mad at your sister and punched her, you didn’t help Mommy empty the dishwasher like you were asked to do, or if you got really angry at your friend when he stole your pencil. Stuff like that.” He seemed comfortable with that. Then we looked at the Gospel book that is on the table. We examined the pictures of the 4 Gospel writers. (I’ve got to find out what symbols go with which Gospel writer. Like the eagle was with one, and a bull with another, etc.) We even opened the book to see the inside and that it was written in Russian. It was very old. The pages were brown and some were torn and repaired. I showed him how I venerate the book and cross on the table every time I’m in church.
A little girl named Chrissy* joined us. We went and I knelt in the middle of the Nave so I would be a little below their eye level and could look up at the icons and at them. That’s when Charlie asked me, “Why is Jesus famous?” WOW, what a GREAT question! After telling Charlie that he asks some awesome questions, I got up and walked over to the crucifix on the Tetrapod. I looked at both children and started to respond when Charlie, eyes wide open, softly breathed, “Oh! I know. He’s famous because He died on the cross. Because He loves us.” With tears in my eyes, I looked at him and smiling I said, “Yes, that’s right.” Chrissy said, “He’s not here anymore. He died.” I took both their hands and walked with them to the icon of the Resurrection. I knelt down and pointed out the icon to them saying, “Well Chrissy, Jesus did die. But look at that icon. What do you think the story is?” She didn’t know but Charlie said, “That’s Jesus. He came back to life.” “Yes, He did Charlie,” I said. “Jesus rose from the dead!” and we talked a little about that. Chrissy pointed to the ceiling saying, “God lives up in heaven.” “Yes He does. But you know what? When you believe in God and love Him, He is with you,” I replied. Both of them smiled. I tearfully smiled back.
Since all their questions were answered for that particular moment we went back to the fellowship hall. As I sat down I thought to myself, “Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it, whether any of it makes a difference and doubt that it does. Then You bless me with children like Charlie & Chrissy. Thank you, God. Thank you.”
(*Names have been changed)