During the morning worship service at my parents’ church, there is a portion of the service deemed the “Children’s Sermon.” The little ones join a guest minister at the front of the church, sitting on the carpet, ready to listen to a parable, a story, a bible story relevant to the lesson of the day, told in language and examples that are particularly appropriate for children.
It was difficult to hear the guest minister this morning, but what I did hear caused me to pause. She started by introducing Benjamin Bunny, a bunny rabbit with a large extended rabbit family (as rabbit families are wont to be). One day the foxes came through and killed everyone in the rabbit family except for Benjamin Bunny.
At this point I glanced at my mom. She wouldn’t look at me. A Christmas story, with a massacre to start it off? Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the unwed pregnant mother-to-be beginning.
One day, Benjamin Bunny was crying in the woods (apparantly mourning the death of his entire social network) when a wolf appeared. Benjamin was sure he was going to die. At this point I’m looking at the once-sweet, now slightly terrified, faces of all the three, four, and five year olds gathered around the minister.
But the wolf is not there to kill Benjamin, he is there to offer words of wisdom. “There are many people in your family that need your help, Benjamin.” Benjamin looks at him with surprise. (I think he’s about to explain that the evil foxes wreaked rabbitcide on his family.) The wolf continues, “All the animals in the forest are your family. You have so much to offer. Look, there’s the widow squirrel (We can only assume her husband was gunned down by an evil hunter. Wait a minute, we’re in NC, hunters aren’t evil. Who’s the villian in this story?) with her six baby squirrels and nothing to eat.” Benjamin remembered some acorns he had spied earlier. He took them to the family of squirrels, no strings attached. He continued doing good deeds all throughout the day, for friends and foes alike, until he noticed a mouse freezing to death in the snow (maybe the story takes place in Denver). He offered cover to the mouse and then the wolf reappeared saying he was going to take Benjamin home to be with his loved ones.
This time I nudged mom. “Did the wolf just eat the rabbit?”
“No. He froze to death in the snow.”
I think the moral of the story was supposed to be: everyone is part of God’s family, no matter how many legs they have, so be kind to everyone and don’t expect anything in return. What I took away: beware of foxes and wear lots of layers when out in the snow.