Monday, November 20, 2006

The Huguenot Garden

A few years ago, I became infected by the genealogy bug. I began questioning my older family members, viewing a trip to the family cemetary as research, and searching the Internet for all my immediate family surnames. In some cases, I regretted the search - too many horse thieves and scoundrels! However, I was proud of my maternal grandmother's lineage which included one of the first Presbyterian pastors in what would become the United States.

My paternal grandmother's lineage was also a source of pride, although I'm sure my ancestors would bristle at being prideful about them. They were Huguenots, French Protestants, who suffered persecution and yet remained faithful, even as they were forced to leave their homeland to stay true to their Reformed faith. Theirs is a faith-inspiring history. They have an emblem, the Huguenot Cross, which is rich in meaning. A good friend visited some Huguenot locales in France and brought a Huguenot Cross charm home for me. I treasure it.

I was reminded of this history on Reformation Sunday this year. My hubby preaches on heroes of the faith each year as we celebrate the Protestant Reformation. This year, he shared with us the Huguenot Legacy, a legacy of faithfulness, steadfastness and perseverance even unto death. He had in his library a children's book, The Huguenot Garden, which he had read and encouraged me to read as well. Tonight, I did just that.

The Huguenot Garden by Douglas Jones, III is a lovely children's book that adults should read. Told through the eyes of two twin girls, Renee and Albret Martineau, it is the story of a Huguenot family in La Rochelle, France just as Louis XIV started his full-on repression of the French Protestant church. The book is historic fiction about the persecution and challenges faced by this small Reformed community.

At one point, Jones' describes a Huguenot worship service: "Words - in all their power and elegance - surrounded and completely filled each person. Words - in song, prayer, exhortation, and preaching - richly drew the congregation into sweet union and communion with their God." How appropriate to describe worship in terms of words - our Lord is described likewise in the gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

At one point, the father is trying to explain religious persecution and evil to his young children. His words are a wonderful prayer:

"Remember, children, what we've learned before. After Adam's sin, God promised that there would be a long war between the people of the woman and the people of the serpent - between the people of God and the people of the enemy. There are only two kinds of people in the world - friends of God and enemies of God. Some enemies are very kind and decent on the outside, though they oppose God in their hearts. So, too, some people pretend on the outside to be friends of God, but on the inside they do not love God's commandments. Only God knows, and we pray that the Lord will change enemies into friends and that He will clean our hearts and make us faithful for his glory."

You can read more about The Huguenot Garden here.

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