The Sins of Our Fathers; Chapter Two
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This is chapter two.
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A Gift For God
A week before Christmas, the Seekers performed the Christmas play nightly to a packed crowd. As a member of the Hallelujah Chorus, Claire tried to lose herself in the powerful music. Handel’s music pounded through her head, but her heart felt broken.
For weeks now, she pondered the scene in her dad’s office. What was her dad doing? And who was that woman? She wondered if people could have sex standing up. Is that what having sex looked like? Claire couldn’t imagine what she had seen, but she knew it probably wasn’t good. She felt sick to her stomach and her head spun with unanswered questions.
Claire had no one to talk to so the questions swirled and muddled her thoughts. She had always been a light sleeper, but now, she lay awake nights, wondering just what she had seen. She stayed up late, practicing her music, reading books, and working ahead in her studies, but still her brain would not quiet down, and she could get no rest.
At choir practice one evening, she noticed that Theresa wore the same shoes as the woman in Craig’s office. Claire wished then that she had paid more attention to detail to the dress, or the toenails, or the shape of the leg; anything that would give her an idea as to the woman’s identity. Claire never mentioned her visit to Craig or Melissa, and she withdrew even more from her few home-school friends.
She tried to concentrate on her schoolwork and on practicing for the choir during the day, and she kept more and more to herself. Claire rarely spoke to Craig, and she watched him closely, wondering what he was really thinking. She didn't trust him, and she listened intently for him to give himself away.
On Christmas Day, Craig announced that the Newell family would be making another sacrifice for Jesus on his birthday.
After the presents were opened he cleared his throat loudly, rubbed his hands together and waited for the family to turn their attention to him.
“As of today, we will no longer allow television in the house. It is a waste of time, and it brings the wrong kind of influences right into our home.
“We cannot, as a Christian family, invite Satan into our home every day. We must set an example through our sacrifice.”
Rachel immediately began crying.
“But what about Dora? She isn’t bad. She doesn’t like Satan.”
“Dad,” Claire protested, “You have no idea how hard this is going to be for us. The only way I can get anything done is for Rachel to watch TV. And what about mom? She has to lie on the couch all day. What is mom supposed to do?”
“I knew you wouldn’t like it, but I expect you to be cheerful when you obey me. I do not want an argument; I want you to do as I say.
“This is Jesus’ birthday. What better day to sacrifice for our Lord than on his birthday?
“You girls need to stop being selfish and think about how we present ourselves in the world. We can be in the world, but we must not be of the world.
“God is pretty clear in his word. Television is a negative influence. Even Pastor Bill and Mary and most of the other families in church have already gotten rid of television. We are one of the last families to still invite the devil to sit with our children. I won’t have it. I can’t be an effective worship leader if my family is home watching TV all day.”
Melissa remained silent. Claire couldn’t stand to see her sit quietly in front of her husband, eyes downcast.
“Talk about selfish,” Claire spat, “you’re more selfish than anyone. You don’t even care about mom, and she’s pregnant.”
Claire stomped to her room, slamming the door. She knew her parents would be furious with her disrespectful mouth, but she had had enough. A gift for God? Seriously? Her dad had lost his mind this time, and Claire was fed up. There was no way she would get any work done with Rachael underfoot all the time.
And what was her mom supposed to do all day? She was barely awake as it was, and most of her waking hours were spent reclining on the couch with a cool rag on her forehead. The television blared throughout the day, an incessant intruder into Claire's subconscious. Secretly, she'd be glad to be rid of the noisy thing. But her mom and sister would be completely miserable and utterly bored.
She knew about Craig’s hypocrisy, and she was tired of his overbearing attitude. She waited on her bed for punishment to come, but after a while it seemed they had forgotten her.
Claire began reading a book, thinking about what a sucky Christmas this had turned out to be. Their family had always celebrated with different traditions.
They had enjoyed open-house parties, where friends and neighbors came to spend the day. They had once gathered gifts for a nursing home. They sang Christmas Carols to the neighbors. It had been different before. It was better before. Since becoming Seekers, they left behind many of the familiar ways of the past, only to embrace a much simpler celebration.
Craig insisted the new way was better. He told his family they would be better for sacrificing. Living differently than other people would make them greater servants for Christ. Some days, Claire felt she alone had made the greatest sacrifices.
Her friends from school all but shunned her when she was at the store with her family. Her homeschool acquaintances found her too shy and awkward to want to hang out with. The church staff was nice, but standoffish. Claire had no one to talk to and great burdens to carry.
She felt utterly alone and abandoned by everyone she cared about.
To read Chapter Three of The Sins of Our Fathers
To read Chapter One of The Sins Of Our Fathers