Sydney, my eldest child, sat next to me during our community’s worship gathering this weekend. She had a cold and her sister and mom were in with the younger kids. It was just me and her. We sat near the back where she could doodle while she listened to the sermon and where her incessant nose blowing would be less noticeable.
Each week, after the sermon portion of the gathering, we take communion. Sydney and I went up together, knelt, and partook. Back at our seats, I continued to stand and sing. Sydney’s eyes wandered over the walls.
Spaced equally around the sanctuary hung fourteen rectangles of muslin, each with a duct tape cross in the center. Each piece of fabric was decorated differently, some ornate, others simple, some with images, some with words. Together, they make up the fourteen stations of the cross.
I leaned down to her and said, “You can go check those out, if you want.”
“Okay!” she said, and then took off. Yeah, I’m that dad. I have good kids and I don’t mind turning them loose, even in the middle of a song at church.
She walked up to the station nearest us and gave it a studied look, head slightly tilted to the right, hands clasped together behind her back. She stood there for a few seconds, then moved on to the next one. I watched her, amused; she looked like the world’s tiniest gallery patron.
Finished with one side of the sanctuary, she returned to me to check in and make sure it was okay to peruse the other side. I smiled and nodded. She disappeared along the far wall, hidden by the crowd between us. Several minutes passed by and then she reappeared at my side, tugging on my sleeve.
“Daddy, guess what?” she said. I sat down so I could be at her eye level.
“What?” I said.
“Jesus was a kid once, just like me!” she said.
“Yeah, that’s right. He was.” I said, not sure how we’d gotten from the stations of the cross to Jesus’ childhood.
“That one over there is called ‘Jesus Falls for the First Time'” she said, gesturing behind her. “I never realized Jesus was a kid once, too. I mean, in the Bible it just goes right from him being born to him as an adult. I guess I never thought about him being a kid for a while.”
She’d seen the description of station number three and taken it as a reference to Jesus falling for the first time ever in life, like kids do when they’re learning to walk. A smile broke out underneath my beard.
“Yeah, Jesus was a kid, just like you. The Bible doesn’t have much to say about that time in his life, but then again, there’s a lot that happened in Jesus’ life that isn’t in the Bible. What do you think about all that?” I asked.
“It’s awesome!” she said, eyes twinkling, “Jesus probably had to learn to walk and talk, like me. I mean, I thought maybe he just came out knowing all that stuff, but now I don’t think he did. Jesus peed his pants.”
I laughed. She’s right. Jesus did pee his pants.
“So you see, hon, Jesus was a kid once. There’s nothing you can go through, nothing you can feel, even as a kid, that Jesus didn’t experience,” I said, trying to cement this discovery in her mind.
“Dad, I bet he went poo in his pants, too, ’cause, you know, babies do that.” she replied with a knowing look on her face.
I laughed again. She’s nine years old and the idea that the child Jesus was at one time not potty trained, blew her mind. We’ll talk about incarnation and Jesus’ identification with us another day.
That little interaction was water to my soul. In a time during which I long to belong to a “tribe,” a time in which faith seems so complicated, I think I’d do well to remember that sometimes I need to let go of my quest for answers and be wowed. Yes, it is important to do theology, deconstruct your perspective, chase down your hermeneutic, push power to the margins, but we must not lose the kingdom in the midst of all that. Every now and then we must remember, Jesus peed his pants.