“… now at this time, I’d like to have all the children up front for the children’s message.”
The herd of children rumbled down from their elevated seats in the pews and slowly assembled on the altar steps. On some faces was the look of perfect satisfaction, the look of knowing the answers to a test before the test is given. A bright look in the eye toward Mama and Papa was flashed, and a feigned smile waxed and waned. But most of the children looked convincingly bored, and probably put up quite a fight to coming to church in the first place.
“Let me start by asking you all a question. Is the sun out today? Did you see the sun outside this morning when you came in?”
Suddenly, they were a united chorus. “Yeeeeeaaaaah.”
“The sun does a lot of things, doesn’t it?”
Again, their hive mind agreed with the pastor’s sound logic. “Yeeeeeaaaaah.”
“What does the sun do? Someone tell me something the sun doeeees.”
It was, indeed, a puzzling question. A blonde-haired boy stared at the ceiling, looking as if the pastor had asked him to calculate a derivative. Two little girls, wearing matching print sun dresses, whispered prospective responses to each other, carefully concealing their tentative words from the pastor. These kids had heard these deceptively simple inquiries before. If the pastor simply said what he meant, they wouldn’t be deceptive; and it was this deceit that made it so difficult to answer. It takes a keen mind and fortunate train of thought to be the hero, the one who accurately determines the proper function of the sun, or the moon, or the reason for rain, or the prettiest flower, or the best reason to do what Mama and Papa say—and therefore push the “children’s message” on. The bravest and most confident children usually tried their luck first.
“It shines?” It sounded like a question, but the freckled second-grader with bright orange pigtails was sure that the sun did, in fact, shine.
“Yes, the sun does give us light,” the pastor corrected. “What else does the sun do?”
Strike one. The ultimate insult was to waste so many guesses that the pastor became infuriated with their ignorance and revealed the answer himself. The clock was ticking.
“It’s yellow?” Again, not a question—but his response was corrected by a rough elbow from the young boy’s neighbor. This was obviously not the correct answer, nor was it even something the sun did. Foolish.
“Yes, it can be yellow sometimes. Or red, too. Does the sun ever turn red?”
“Yeeeeeaaaaah.” The pastor’s question was his way of consoling the boy for his terrible postulation that being yellow was a task the sun performed. The easier question was to build their confidence, but it was already too late.
“Does the sun make a circle around the earth? An orbit? Does the sun orbit the earth?”