Again, Daddy!” “Read it again, Mommy!” One of the words all children master early on is ‘again.’ There’s something powerfully alluring about the familiar sounds of favorite stories being read, those books much coveted by little ones. Or is it the comforting sounds of a parent’s voice? Either way, favorite things are the norm in most households with toddlers, be they stories, blankets, cartoons, teddy bears, Sponge Bob Square Pants jammies, or other. One of my cousins’ children had one such treasure, a blanket, a greatly loved, constant companion, so constant that it was dragged along everywhere he went. Before one road trip, my cousin couldn’t stand looking at the ‘filthy thing’ any longer and tossed it in the wash. It came out pristine, restored to respectability. But Jimmy was inconsolable! His familiar-looking, familiar-smelling blankie had been ‘stolen’ from him! He rejected the impostor and never again warmed to it.
The ‘children’ of Israel, too, were encouraged to engage in constant repetition of their story. “… love God, your God; guard well his rules and regulations; obey his commandments for the rest of time… place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street, talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.”* It would seem God was aware of our tendency toward forgetfulness and wanted to provide clear instructions for his kids’ safety.
As God’s children, today, it remains an important daily routine to keep his story alive through repetition, keeping the main thing the main thing, reminding each other who we are and whose we are. While our individual experiences of living out loud the Gospel will vary in small details, they contain one common thread, like the familiarity of much-loved childhood stories. It’s Jesus’ story, and our ‘new life in him’ story. And, just as for little children, there can never be too many retellings. Maybe, in those many retellings, it’s where we will hear the reassuring sound of our Father’s voice. PD
*Deuteronomy 11, The ME