So the other day Kim and I were in Indianapolis and we came across the most childlike priest I have ever seen. I’m not sure if anyone is completely Adultitis-free, but this guy sure was as close as they come. At the beginning of his sermon, he had all of the children (probably close to 90 in all) come to the front of the church and sit on the steps near the altar. Fr. Paul’s back was to the congregation as he addressed the kids. He began talking about water. Then he went off to the side of the church, temporarily hidden by the baptismal font. He emerged, to the delight of all of the children and many of us in the crowd, with a Super Soaker water gun. He had a few questions for the kids, and warned them that he’d squirt them if they gave a wrong answer. He asked them for examples of how God used water in the Bible. One by one, with eyes the size of dinner plates, children gave out answers. Intermittently, Fr. Paul squirted water down the main aisle, and to the side of the church, teasing the churchgoers.After the pop quiz was over (none of the kids got soaked), Fr. Paul dumped a bin of small holy water vials into the baptismal font and instructed the kids to fish one out to take home with them. And there he was, helping the little ones who couldn’t quite reach. With the kids back in their seats, he turned back to the congregation, finishing his sermon on the theme of water. It all tied together perfectly.
While I sat there amazed, I knew there were some people sitting in the church who were probably appalled, thinking, “How dare he bring that into the church!”
What a shame.
While I don’t think church needs to try and compete with MTV as an entertainment option, I don’t know where we got the idea that religion must be stodgy. If you look closely at the Bible, Jesus was actually quite innovative when it came to teaching people about God. It was the Pharisees that stuck to a rigid, oppressive, and humorless approach to religion. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of those guys. He taught that God certainly has a serious side, but that He’s also playful, creative, and pretty unorthodox.
Those are the types of priest, preachers, and pastors we need more of.
[tags]priests, Catholic church, Jesus, faith, Pharisees, childlike faith[/tags]