This afternoon Evan and I played in the snow. After coming inside we made hot chocolate (for him) and coffee (for me). As we sat together warming up with our respective beverages, Evan made an announcement: "Today is Celebration Day!"
"Really?" I asked. "What are we celebrating?"
"That Christmas is a week away!"
Why, yes it is. How could I forget?
Evan again: "To celebrate, we'll be singing Kyrie I. Do you know what page it's on?" By this time he had pulled a hymnal off the shelf next to our kitchen table and was looking through the book.
"It's in the back, sweetie. I think it's in the 800's." (Wrong on my part. Turns out it's in the 900's.)
Evan: "After Kyrie I, we'll sing Kyrie II." A pause, as he turned to the front of the hymnal, the Advent section. "Then 'The Advent of Our God.'"
He named several more hymns in the Advent section, but I don't remember what they were. We started our Celebration Day observance by singing both Kyrie's as promised (Kyrie II was sung in both Greek and English). Then there was a change of plans and we sang another Kyrie--"Kyrie, God Father"--on the preceding page. By that time we had to clean up and prepare to leave the house for a 2:00 appointment, so there was no time for hymns. But even though our celebration was cut short, Evan seemed satisfied.
What I think is revealing here is Evan's embracing of the sanctification of time and the liturgy. Something special is happening. He wanted to mark and observe it. How did he do so? Through ritual and ceremony. Through order. Through the liturgy. He started as many of our church services do: with the Kyrie. Then he proceeded to sing a hymn. And not just any hymn, mind you, but one appropriate to the season: an Advent hymn.
Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Evan is well aware of that fact and is looking forward to singing "Light the candle of hope today" while the acolyte does just that on the Advent wreath. Evan knows that in a few days the blue paraments will be changing to white and the lights on the sanctuary's Christmas trees will be lit for the first time. He told me today that the reason we are having "Celebration Day" is that we are celebrating that Jesus is coming so that He will be able to die for our sins. Then his eyes lit up: "And on Easter we'll get a new candle!" (He was speaking of the paschal candle, which gets replaced each Easter Vigil.)
People say that liturgical worship is boring for children--that what children need is not candles and paraments and ritual and hymns and liturgy but rather, entertainment and fast-paced excitement. I think Evan would have something to say about that. In fact, I think he already did.