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12:00 p.m. - March 26, 2007
Katie - Playing With Fire!
I said a lot of prayers yesterday. Fortunately, I was in church when I needed the prayers.

You see, Katie was an acolyte at church, along with her friend Caleb, the minister’s son.

Now, what kind of parent lets their 5-year old daughter light a candle? One that’s been well trained, that’s who!

Our church is small, but loving. However, it is also rather elderly in membership. We do have some kids, and more have come recently, but there aren’t a lot of children around, and usually the same kids have to be ‘voluntold’ to help in lighting the candles.

But sometimes those kids aren’t there. And that means that an usher has to light the candles, and that doesn’t flow well, really.

A couple of Sundays ago, when I was in DC, the pastor asked Katie and Caleb to ‘practice’ being acolytes. They had specific directions and worked really hard to light the candles, put out the candles, and most notably, not set anything or anyone on fire.

Fire – bad.

I was liturgist yesterday, and during Sunday School the pastor asked if Katie would like to light the candles, since none of the usual suspects would be there. Besides, she’d be able to do it with her buddy Caleb.

Caleb is 6, but in first grade, and he’s an energetic boy (to say the least). He and Katie get along well, and they always seem to be up to some deviltry in the church when they’re not actually in their Sunday School class or in church itself.

At times, they seem like an old married couple, bickering about minor things but showing obvious affection for each other. Katie, being Katie, seems at times to be the alpha of the relationship even though she’s younger. But Katie takes no mess. Believe me!

So, since Caleb’s dad and I would be walking down the aisle together behind the acolytes as we entered church, what better Sunday to have them be acolytes, just in case we needed to step in.

Katie was resplendent in her purple dress (she loves that dress, and it is very seasonal, being Lent and all) and actually matched me, since I wore my favorite purple shirt with a gold tie.

Purple works on both of us – our undertones, I guess. I dunno. Ask Liz.

So before church we went through the routine with Katie and Caleb, and reminded them exactly what they needed to do. Then, I prepped my Bible reading (it was from Isaiah, and well, you know, that’s OLD SCHOOL) and I steeled myself for the fact that my precious five-year old was going to carry FIRE down the aisle and then light candles before church.

Ye Gods!

I was praying – to anyone and everyone that could hear me. Obviously, I concentrated on the big Christian gods, but you know, if Buddha or Vishnu or Zoroaster wanna help out a fella, then by all means, step up!

Because Katie was gonna have fire.

It was time – we heard the organ start the prelude.

I took a deep breath, and I think I said a prayer to Hephaestus. You know, gotta get those Olympians on your side as well.

The candles were lit, the doors opened, and Katie and Caleb walked down the aisles with their candle lighters aflame.

Katie had her arms extended as high and as far out as she could, well far away from her. Hopefully, she wouldn’t stumble, or trip, or Caleb wouldn’t bump into her.

We had to regulate their pace a few times, but they made it to the steps. And they both made it up the steps, no problem. And by gosh, they lit the candles exactly like they practiced.

They scurried off to put away their candle holders, and then scurried back to the front of the church. Liz was well positioned in the pew behind them (the pastor’s wife was out attending a neat function in Indianapolis) to control their five-year oldness.

Since I was up front I also was in a good position to shoot Katie a few looks once in a while. But they acted about as decently as any normal child would act in church. I don’t want my kids to be automatons – they need to have some spirit and life in them.

Now, we have an order about our service, of course. Basically, the order is music / children’s sermon / offering / bible reading / sermon / music / prayer / music / benediction. (I took out announcements, etc.)

Well, the music after the sermon is supposed to be reflective music for prayer – a solemn, yet thoughtful hymn. However, for two bored kids, they just heard a song after not hearing one in a while and thought it was their time to get up and light the candles.

Nope, one hymn too early.

But it was too late to grab them – as they ran back out of the sanctuary and grabbed the candle holders and then walked down the aisle. Liz and I, as quietly and respectfully as we could, had to try to wave them off. “Abort mission! Abort!”

Finally, we convinced them that it wasn’t time, so during the end of this very nice, quiet hymn they clatter back outside the sanctuary at full tilt.

Crisis averted, because you know, you need those candles lit during the prayer, right? Well, anyway, it looks better when the acolytes walk down the aisle with us.

So, after the prayer, and the final hymn, they actually did get to light their candles and extinguish the flames, though Katie’s candle went out on the trip back. Ah, well, it’s the symbolism.

No one and nothing was lit on fire. That’s good.

The congregation loved seeing them light the candles. That’s good.

Now, let’s just hope they keep this up and want to do this every once in a while. Sullen teenagers voluntold to be acolytes aren’t always going to be shining examples.


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