Something Old Testament About The Moment

Pierre Fontenot Monday, November 10, 2014 0
Something Old Testament About The Moment

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Something is not right with my father.

Tests have happened, pictures have been taken, doctors have whispered.

My sister’s children approached her. “We’d like to have Poppy baptize us.” Unspoken in this: 1) they sense an end; and 2) they recognize that when it comes to God, nobody they know is more qualified to knock on heaven’s door than their grandfather…

 

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Such honor, to be there. A quiet Wednesday afternoon, the eternal clock ticking, and if ever there was a For-where-two-or-three-gather-in-My-Name-there-am-I-with-them moment, this was as It as It gets.

He’s 85 years old. He met God young and committed immediately. It’s an easy thing, to believe in eternity when you’ve yet to grow a whisker; it’s another thing, to be near your natural end, older than your grandparents, older than your parents, and feel the stalking footsteps of death, have your faith tested by the cold hard facts of biology…

 

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He has prepared handwritten notes. (I have a little box with notes of the same kind, prepared for sermons in the year I was born, when he was still too fresh out of seminary to be worthy of his own church assignment.)

He speaks to a congregation of three grandchildren. “The Christian life is an easy life,” he tells them. To him, it all makes sense: all God’s rules are designed for our benefit, to steer us towards good, or to steer us away from bad.

He tells them the ABC’s of his everyday life, how it begins with a little prayer, thankful for the day, wanting to be a good child, and asking for help with the ambushes of life.

There is nothing he is more passionate about than the Fruits Of The Spirit. He grew up in a church society that thought that dotting I’s and crossing T’s made you holy, but all it made you was a Pharisee, the very thing Jesus despised.

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The evidence of God within was in what fruit you bore. It wasn’t to be sought, or measured. He thought our highest ambition was to be Christ-like, and by staying near, and by asking for help, little-by-little, we’d defeat the carnal and transition to the spiritual, and in thought, motive and action, we’d be loving, joyful, peaceful…

He speaks these words to children. They may never remember a word, but they’ll always remember his substance. Up the road, they’ll get tested, and fail, and the view from the ditch bottom will finish the lesson. Their grandfather will look Large, and they’ll want to be that way, and know it’s possible, because they saw it, in their days of youth…

 

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My sister has brought bread and grape juice. Deep into his eighth decade, my father leads grandchildren in a backyard communion. We are a micro church.

He removes his shoes and steps, like an old Baptism4man, into the backyard pool that we’re borrowing. One by one, his grandchildren step into the water with him, hear his words, feel his hands supporting their backs, dipping them into swim water turned holy by occasion… announcing their intentions to angels.

 

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One of the great Old Testament stories is about Jacob and Esau. Such trickery, such urgency, and all to get the blessing of the old patriarch, Isaac. It matters, is what the story says to us…to have your father pray for you, as his time ends, to ask his Father to carry on His protection, and blessing, this is of greater value than a legal will…

I have seen my father before crowds. Does this seem small, for him near his end, to be reduced to a congregation of so few… I think not…  This is altogether clean, this is a gift of great substance, this is a mattering moment in a life that has maybe one Christmas left before eternity…

I feel God’s kindness. I sense His perfect subtlety. I don’t mind going, my father is thinking, as long as I know you’re going to join me later…

 

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we urge you to grab the moments that matter…

Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories are posted three times a week on Eighty-one’s Facebook page, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, about pillow time.  Uncle P can be reached at 81creativity@gmail.com.