A couple of weeks ago Madeline walked into our room at 7:00 a.m. and came to my side of the bed. She said, “Dad, have you read Psalm 91? It’s really good.” She had woken us up, so I mumbled something about “Probably” and “I’ll read it when I got up.” I wish now I had just sat up and paid attention, because she was so excited. It was as if she’d made amazing discovery. I have no idea how she landed on that particular Psalm. Probably a random choice. She had read it on her own in the wee hours of the morning and was thrilled by it.
After we got up I read the Psalm and she told me how much she loves the Psalms. I was thrilled by her excitement. Still am. What’s remarkable is that we did not directly influence her to do this; we did not suggest that, “Hey, why don’t you try reading something from the Bible some time.” And if we had, we most likely wouldn’t have suggested a 6-year-old start with the Psalms. Her grandma gave her a Bible a couple of years ago and she just decided one morning recently that she would read it.
The other day I decided that it was time that I give Bible reading after supper another go. I tried a couple of years ago, but it was chaos: the kids didn’t listen and I just got frustrated and angry. But it seems to be going well now–Madeline, at any rate, has the spark of scriptural interest in her (again, through shamefully little direct influence from us), Luke can be convinced to at least sit quietly, and Olivia just copies Luke. There are varying degrees of comprehension happening at the table, but comprehension isn’t really the point. I think it’s good for them to just hear the stories.
For whatever reason, I chose the story of Joseph. I had forgotten that it goes on for a number of chapters, but that’ s just as well. Maybe I can stretch it out until the Advent season. I wasn’t sure what to do with the bit about Potiphar’s wife looking at Joseph “lustfully” and trying to seduce him, not knowing what sort of questions would arise out of that episode. Luke and Olivia were oblivious and Madeline just took it in stride. I explained and editorialized the text more than I probably should have. It’s easy to worry too much about what our children hear, but if I believe these words are somehow divine, should I censor them or should I just let them go? Did the Isrealites censor their stories for their children? Who knows.
I have a very low-church upbringing, but the other day I taught the kids about concluding the reading of a passage of scripture with “The word of the Lord” and the appropriate response. That night Madeline suggested that she could read a Psalm every night with the Bible story. So tonight I read about Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams and then Madeline read Psalm 1. She did very well.
When she finished reading, I said, “The word of the Lord.”
And Madeline said, “Ummm…Thanks be to God!”
And that just warms the cockles of my heart.