Mr. Rogers had a way of fascinating children with his "Neighborhood of Make Believe" that included King Friday, Prince Tuesday, Daniel Tiger, Lady Fairchild, Anna Platypus, and other puppet characters. Did you know that Queen Sarah was named after his wife?
I lived in a land of make believe last week as our church hosted a Vacation Bible School centered on a medieval theme of kings and castles and knights. The children were not girls and boys, but ladies and lords. Titled "Over the Moat: drawbridge to the King," I enjoyed playing the part of Minstrel Moatzart, musician for the King.
Our ladies and lords were grouped into Pages, Squires, Prefects, and Knights. As "knights in training," they were taught that the character of a knight included the responsibility of helping others and encouraging them, setting an example of cooperation and commitment to the cause and pursuit of knighthood.
With the advancement of war tactics and weaponry, especially the introduction of gunpowder, knights became less and less effective in battle. By the 14th century, the use of knights in war had all but ended. However, the chivalric ideals of knighthood continued to live on. The prestige of the Order of Knighthood is still used in our era, though only for awards and decorations, which are neither orders nor are they composed of knights.
The purpose of the King's knight may no longer be relative to our day, but the character and qualities of those prestigious men are still very much in order. They include honor, loyalty, chivalry, honesty, bravery, and faith in God. I suppose that today's label for such an individual of masculine gender would be 'gentleman,' yet these traits are suitable for men and women alike.
So, today at our church the drawbridge is raised, the castle is closed, and the ladies and lords have been knighted and sent on their way. Our hope is that during their week of knighthood training 1) they met the King of kings, and 2) embraced the truth that the persona of a knight should live on in each of us everyday.
I look back over my life and remember being the new student, or the new employee on his first day at the job. I recall being teased or ridiculed, and teasing others myself. I can call to mind times those good friends, teammates, or others who had committed to "be there" for me let me down. I remember what it feels like to be hurt by someone else's lie. We all have made such poor choices along the way. How I wish a knight has come along in some of those times to rescue me!
Can you imagine how differently children might develop if they assumed the qualities of a knight? Do you see how people of such integrity would impact our communities, nation, and world? What if most of what we saw on the news channels was stories of hope and good will? We all have those traits within us; are you letting yours show for the good of those around you?
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.