Meeting the King

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Kenya Jayne Washington jiggled with excitement. It was Thirteenth Sabbath, and the Primary class was in an uproar.

Ms. Kimoto waved her hands. “Class, class!” The hubbub quieted a little. Kenya clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from squealing. “Are you all ready? Does everyone know what to do?” She looked around. “Good. Then let’s go quietly upstairs.”

With only a little whispering and giggling, the boys and girls managed to make their way upstairs. When Ms. Kimoto opened the door to the sanctuary and Kenya saw all the grown-ups turning to look, she transferred her hand from her mouth to her stomach. An entire flock of rabbits was jumping around in there, nibbling on her insides. Everything she had practiced so hard flew right out of her head.

Ms. Kimoto led the primaries up the side aisle and into the pastor’s office. “Let’s pray,” she whispered. Gathering around the teacher, the children listened to her quiet prayer. “Dear Jesus, help us to remember what we’ve practiced, and to do it just for You. Amen.”

Kenya felt better. When it was her turn to go out, she would pretend she could see Jesus sitting in the front row, smiling at her.

Susannah and Ms. Kimoto went out the door. Ms. Kimoto sat on the front row, and Susannah stood at the microphone. “Once upon a time, in a faraway country, there was exciting news!”

Several children hurried out the door, exclaiming to each other, “The King is coming! The King is coming! Have you heard?”

More of the class ran out, calling, “The King? Coming to our town? When, where?”

“Tomorrow, right on Main Street! Get ready!”

Kenya and Solly were the only two left in the pastor’s office. She took a deep breath and patted the bunnies in her stomach as she listened to Susannah saying, “In the town, lived a little, old lady who was very mean. Nobody knew why she was angry all the time.”

Kenya bent over a little, like an old lady, twisted her face into a fierce scowl, and went out the door. She was sure there were a million people in the church today, all staring at her. Laughing, too! They weren’t supposed to laugh! Kenya marched along the front row, frowning and growling at the people. “What are you looking at? Leave me alone!” She shook her fist. “You’d be grouchy, too, if you had to put up with what I have to put up with!”

Susannah continued, “When Mrs. Jones first heard the news, she didn’t believe it.”

“Hey, Mrs. Jones!” Matt called. “Have you heard? The King is coming!”

Kenya glared at him. “Coming here? The King? Humbug!”

“It’s true!” Mike insisted. “He’ll be here tomorrow. Don’t you want to see him?”

Kenya turned her back on the others, who were all agreeing with Mike and Matt, and slumped down on the steps to the podium, sulking.

Susannah lowered her voice dramatically. “Now the truth was, Mrs. Jones wanted to see the King more than she liked to admit. No one in town could remember a time when she had not been grouchy and mean to everybody, even little children. Some said she had cheated them, and others insisted she had stolen from them.

”But they didn’t know that there had been many sad things in the old woman’s life. Her husband and children had all died young, and she was left poor, alone, and bitter. Still, she had heard about the King. She had heard that he was loving and kind, and that he made wrongs right. Mrs. Jones wondered if he could make her wrongs right too. The next day . . .”

The door to the pastor’s office opened again, and Solly came out, waving and smiling to everyone. All the class except Kenya rushed toward him, calling, “The King! It’s the King! He’s here! Hooray!” Solly was immediately surrounded and out of sight. As the knot of children moved slowly across the front of the room, Susannah continued, “Mrs. Jones tried to see, but she couldn’t.”

Kenya craned her neck, remembering to stay hunched as if she were old. She scooted up the steps and peeked around the edge of the pulpit, letting her face relax from its grumpy lines as she stared at Solly.

Suddenly, Solly stopped, and everyone else stopped with him. “Ellen Jones!” he exclaimed, as if he had just met his best friend. Kenya opened her mouth and stared at him. He held out his hand. “Come down. May I stay with you today?”

Kenya stayed where she was, staring, while the others broke out in protest. “Her house? You’re going to stay at grouchy, old Mrs. Jones’s house? Don’t you know how mean she is?”

“She cheated me!”

“She stole from me!”

“It’s not right for the King to stay with someone like her!”

Solly took another step toward Kenya, still holding out his hand. “I want to stay with you. If you’ll have me.”

Kenya tried to imagine Solly was really Jesus. Jumping forward, she grabbed his hand and stammered excitedly, “Yes, yes, I’d love to have you! Are you sure you want to stay with me? Everything they’re saying is true.”

By now Kenya was standing beside Solly, and the others had parted so that the congregation could see. Solly smiled down at Kenya, and Kenya gazed up at Solly. Then she turned to the others and declared, “I will pay back everything I stole or cheated from anyone! In fact, I’ll pay extra! I’m very sorry for being mean and grouchy. I’d really like to be friends.”

The others looked at her and then at each other. Then they began to shake her hand and smile at her.

Susannah announced, “From that day, the town would never be the same. As Mrs. Jones made wrongs right, others did the same, and soon everyone was a loving friend to everyone else. The King had come to stay. How about you? Is there any wrong you need the King to make right? Has He come to stay in your house?”

While Susannah was finishing, the primaries lined up on either side of her. She moved away from the mike and joined them, and they sang, “Love is a flag flying high in the castle of my heart, to show the King is in residence there!”

Kenya sang with relief and joy. It was over, and she had lived through it! Not only that, she almost felt as if she’d really met Jesus that day.

When Sabbath School was over, she found Nairobi and said, “I’m sorry I called you that mean name this morning.”

Nairobi hugged her. “I forgive you. Will you forgive me for being so selfish in the first place? You can borrow my pink sweater anytime.”

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