By Judith Jolma
One Sunday morning, as the family scurried about preparing for the Divine Liturgy, Anna Sophia emerged from dressing wearing her favorite sweatshirt and comfy sneakers. Her knees peeked through the large holes in her well-loved jeans while her beautiful golden hair tangled together at the nape of her neck and stuck up in odd places like it does just after little girls with lovely curls climb out of bed.
“Oh, my child, you are a sight,” her mother said with a gentle smile. “Please put on one of your dresses and comb your hair.”
This made Anna Sophia cross. Her clothes were comfortable and warm. Father always keeps the nave so cold. Her sneakers were perfect for standing in through Liturgy. Besides, this way she won’t have to change before running off to play during coffee hour.
“But Mommy!” She protested, “Why do I have to change? I like this.”
“Oh, I like that outfit, too. But you wouldn’t wear that to a wedding,” Mother explained.
“A wedding? Is someone getting married today?” Anna Sophia looked surprised.
“Indeed!” said Mother. “We have been invited to a great banquet with a king and his mother and all his children and servants. There will be choirs of angels, too. Everyone will be wearing shining, white robes and royal crowns, arrayed in pomp and brilliance.”
“Mommy, you’re fooling,” Anna Sophia giggled.
“Maybe just a little,” Mother laughed. “But not entirely.” Mother took her daughter’s hand and walking to the icon wall explained that every Divine Liturgy is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and that we have not only been invited, but we are also the bride. “These icons remind us of all the guests who attend this great feast with us. Although our eyes can’t see them, they are there nonetheless.”
Mother then asked about the priest. “What if he came dressed ready for a playdate?” That thought really made Anna Sophia laugh. Just imagine Father holding up the chalice dressed in a T-shirt and crocks! No, Father always wears the most beautiful vestments made of silk and golden embroidery. Sometimes, when liturgy seems very long, Anna Sophia gets lost staring at the repeating patterns of crosses on his robes and the tassels on his stole. Such beautiful clothes.
Then she remembered a story from Sunday School about the King who invited the poor and beggars to his son’s wedding. He provided new, expensive clothes for them all. But one of the beggars preferred his dirty, tattered rags. Maybe he thought the fine clothes were too stiff or not his style? When the King saw him at the feast, unwashed and unthankful for the gifts, he became angry and threw the beggar out.
“It is important to remember,” Mother said, “That the parable is about wearing our baptismal garments on judgment day. In other words, even if our clothing remains poor because of our Earthly suffering, our souls are to be clothed in the garments Christ gave us. But as we are able, our physical appearance should always reflect the condition of our souls.”
“But it doesn’t make sense,” Anna Sophia scowled in puzzlement. “My friend, Genevieve, says that women cover their heads to hide their beauty in church.”
A very serious expression came over Mother’s face, “No, my child. No! God is not a common man who is intimidated by a woman’s beauty. He made you beautiful. Do you think God is offended when you admire a bird’s lovely plumes or a flower’s delicately painted petals? Don’t we sing ‘Blessed are they that love the beauty of thy house?’ And don’t we talk about how our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit? If we make the church beautiful with all its gold and silver, bejeweled and decked with tapestries, how much more should we make our bodies beautiful?”
At those words, Anna Sophia stood up taller and smiled with a light that came from a sense of dignity, like a bride on her wedding day. She turned and ran to her room. A few moments later she returned wearing her favorite dress. Mother draped her headscarf over her hair and tied it in a graceful knot that draped across her shoulder. For the first time, Anna Sophia noticed how beautiful her mother was in her veil. Mother looked just like a king’s bride.
“Let’s go to a wedding feast,” Mother smiled.
As a contributing editor for ByziKids, it is my pleasure to share these articles with the Sophia Homeschool community as well. Although Sophia Homeschool serves all homeschooling families regardless of faith or affiliation, I think you will enjoy this delightful publication. I hope to share these articles with you monthly as a regular feature here. Enjoy!
ByziKids Magazine is a pan-Eastern Christian, grassroots, monthly publication dedicated to the celebration of Byzantine Orthodoxy through the eyes of our children. We are not affiliated with any particular Church or jurisdiction, but welcome and strive to encompass the teachings and traditions common to all of Byzantine Orthodox-Catholic Christianity.
By Judith Jolma, Founder of Sophia Homeschool.
Sophia Homeschool teaches parents how to homeschool. Learn more about our training at Sophiahomeschool.com
Learn how to create a homeschool method and environment based on your family's needs so you can thrive. My Foundations of Homeschooling Masterclass teaches parents to work with their budget, schedule, learning style, teaching style, and resources so each member of the family has his or her needs met— including yours! Learn to create a peaceful and joyful learning environment that lasts a lifetime. Identify learning differences and adapt your educational plan accordingly. Unlock the mysteries of teaching multiple grades at once. By knowing what your needs are, you will save thousands of dollars, time, and energy on methods that do not work. We will end homework battles and restore your relationship with your child.