Every Sunday in January, she stands at the front of this country church, reading holy words to farmers with work-worn hands and mamas who cradle their babies. She steps on a stool, because she is too short to reach the microphone, even on tiptoes.
This Sunday, she reads about Jonah and Nineveh. She retells the story of someone too scared to go where they’re called to go. I silently read ahead, wondering if she’ll know how to pronounce all the words. She does.
Then the pastor invites the children to come up to the front of the church for the children’s sermon. The reader at the podium, she steps down from the stool and sits on the carpeted stairs.
For she is a child. My child.
After church, the patriarch of our church family catches me in the back, by the mailboxes. Whenever the old farmer talks about the power of the Word, his eyes fill up with tears.
“Back when I was a child in the pews of this church, children were to be seen and not heard,” he says. “I’m really glad it’s not like that anymore. And I’m really glad that your Lydia is reading the Scriptures to us.”
I nod my head. “And I’m grateful that we worship in a place where she can.”
The old farmer says he’d be too nervous to stand up front and read. After his mama died, he dropped out of high school. He stayed home to help with the farm. He loves the ancient words, but he’s has never been much for reading anything aloud. And we talk about how that’s OK, too. We each have different gifts, after all.
Later, I tell Lydia about what the farmer said. I tell her she’s brave. “Are you ever scared?” I ask her.
She wrinkles her nose. “Maybe a little bit.”
We talk about how Jonah was scared. And Moses. And Peter. We remind each other how we’re all a bit scared whenever God calls us to do something that feels bigger than we are.
“I do get a little nervous, but Mommy, it makes me feel important, because those words are important to God — even the hard words.”
With Michelle today …