There is a constant discussion among ‘Church Folks’ about the ‘training up of a child in the ways..’, or ‘the lack thereof’ in today’s Church. It is another of those nemesis that account for so many churches being void of children and youth. Where they are present, this new separation of ‘Church and Children’ breeds, for me, ‘contempt’? Out of sight, out of mind! There, I’ve said it.
I am grateful for the ‘ole church’ tradition of Christmas and Easter speeches. Not quite sure what the field of ‘childhood development’ says in relationship to having learned to recite which for some of us became longer and more extensive speeches which challenged our levels of growth, but, standing before the Church congregation to speak these ‘rhyming messages of hope’ is, undoubtedly, ‘CHURCHhood development’. Like ‘homework’, learning our Christmas speech was ‘churchwork’ —time spent for this learning was done with ‘no play time’. Charles Schulz speaks to this tradition in his ‘Peanuts’ Christmas cartoons.
Lucy walks up to Linus with a sheet of paper in her hand and Linus says, “Oh No! Don’t tell me! Not again?” Handing Linus the paper Lucy says, “Here’s your piece for the Christmas Program.” Taking it Linus starts to read saying, “So the words spoken through Jeremiah the Prophet were fulfilled. A voice was heard in Rama, wailing and loud lament. It was Rachael weeping for her children, and refusing all consolation because they were no more.” “Good grief!!” he says. Lucy: “Memorize it and be ready to recite it by next Sunday!” Linus in a panic screams “I can’t memorize something like this in a week! This is going to take research!” He continues, “Who is Jeremiah? Where is Rama? Why was Rachael so upset?” And he continues, “You can’t recite something until you know the ‘WHO?’, the ‘WHERE?’ and the ‘WHY?’!”
Lucy now all up in his face says to Linus, “I’ll tell you the ‘WHO?’, the ‘WHERE?’ and the ‘WHY?!” Shaking her fist at him she continues, “You start memorizing right now or you’ll know WHO is going to slug you, and you’ll know WHERE she is going to slug you, and you’ll know WHY she slugged you!!!” Shaken, Linus stands with the paper fallen to the floor saying, “Christmas is not only getting too commercial, its getting too dangerous!”
On another Christmas Linus is in the mirror, “Yes sir, long pants sure do make the man!” Lucy: “Fine. Its the first time I’ve seen you in a white shirt in 6 months.” “Now are you sure you know your piece for the Christmas Program?” Linus: “I know it backwards, and forwards, and sideways, and upside down. I could say it in my sleep!” Lucy: “Yeah. Well I remember last year.. You almost goofed the whole Program.” Linus: “Well this is ‘this year’. And this year I won’t forget.” He continues, “And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!” Lucy: “Say, thats pretty good.” Linus: “I told you I knew it. I have a memory like a proverbial elephant!” Out the door Linus continues, “Well I’m going on ahead to the Church… I’ll see you there.” Into the snowy night, “…for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people! What a memory!” Returning to the house Lucy says to him, “What in the world? I thought you just left?” Linus: I did, but I came back.” “I forgot where the Church is!”
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