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Jesus was a merman and other things we learned at church

Jesus was a merman and other things we learned at church
Jesus was a merman and other things we learned at church
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell

Most of us are familiar with the expression “the family that prays together stays together.” I believe there’s a lot of truth to that. However, I’m not so sure about the family that holds its own church service together. This practice has had some unintended consequences in our family.

In this age of coronavirus, many of us are experiencing something very unfamiliar: no Sunday church services. Many families are streaming services online or holding their own. At our house, we’ve taken a piecemeal approach as opposed to simply watching Mass on TV.

Our kids are at the ages where interaction and personal involvement make for a more meaningful experience. So, we’ve cobbled together our own Sunday worship with their guidance.

We typically start with listening to Pastor Kyle Idleman from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. He is such a down-to-earth person, and his sermons always leave me filled with both hope and solid ideas for how I can put my personal faith into action.

Using our copy of the Criterion, the Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, we move on to the Sunday readings. That’s where things took a couple turns down a crooked path this past week.

Sylvia was reading from the Gospel of John, the story of Jesus as a shepherd. She, however, was not familiar with the word “mere” and, instead of reading “mere man,” she read “merman.” I could not contain my laughter at the visual image of Jesus as a merman, which probably means there’s one more thing on the list for when I can go to confession again.

Last Sunday’s first and second readings were shorter than is typical, so Warner insisted on reading more. We gave him the gospel reading for Monday, also from John. He sometimes struggles with pronunciation and misread “spiritual life” as “spatula life.” Yep, I laughed again.

Sylvia was sniffling by now, quite upset that Hays kept whispering “merman.” He just wouldn’t quit, so I told him one more time and he’d be doing housework all day. That, of course, led to a lengthy complaint about the unfairness of that threat. Hays informed me that Sylvia and Warner didn’t get in trouble when they laughed after he was kicked in the groin last month at a tae kwon do tournament. (How he focused on his siblings’ reaction at that moment, I’ll never know.)

I reminded him that nobody laughed when he hit the ground. We laughed (yes, even his mother) when grand master, a big believer in traditional Korean treatments, took over. He rolled Hays over and basically gave him a spank on the rear. I mean, how can you not giggle at that? Even a month later, Hays was still sore about the whole thing and saw no humor in it whatsoever.

Back to our Sunday service.

We finally made it through the readings. Warner gave a short homily, admonishing us to show good behavior or we’d go to hell, with a death stare directed at me. (Point taken, son.)

We usually find a Mass online to watch at this point, but things had slid off the rails a bit too much. We concluded our service with karaoke. I know, but Sylvia loves the karaoke machine her aunt and uncle gave her for Christmas. And it was a CD of Christian songs for children. That’s not too disrespectful, is it?

Sylvia threw in a few dance moves and twirls, then Warner started kicking up his heels with some country-western jig. I told him that was not appropriate church dancing. You can imagine where it went from there.

We’re doing our best, Lord; I promise. But, I’m pretty sure none of us are shoe-ins for any ministry positions.