For those who know nothing but trust
There were two little boys in worship on Sunday. There were lots of children everywhere around the church, but these two little boys were at the front in a row with extended family. The youngest, having just reached age one, was being baptized. His older brother, not yet in school, dressed just like little bro, was there to support. His parents asked if he wanted to go to Sunday School which he loves, but he said no, he wanted to be part of what was going on. But of course!
The parents brought a cup with a little ziplock that had water in it. The day they got married the sky opened up and it poured and poured and poured. I too remember it as if it were yesterday. Didn’t stop the wedding, didn’t stop the reception and celebration, our shoes and some longer hems were never the same, but love wins. Love. Always. Wins.
Now parents of two of the cutest children anywhere and a ziplock with rainwater from their wedding day. Someone had the wherewithal to save some for future needs? And there it sat on the communion tables along with our baptismal bowl and pitcher. They wondered if I might use some of the rainwater from the day of their wedding. Somewhere in the baptismal liturgy there’s the whole remembering God lifting Noah and his family up on the waters of the great deep and remembering that when the rains stopped, and the water began to ebb away, God placed a “bow” in the clouds as a sign of God’s covenant of life. So yes, mom and dad married on a day of downpours, yes the rainwater from the memory that love. always. wins. Yes, yes we will put that rainwater in with the baptismal waters.
His cheeks were rosy and like they had apples in them – the most squeezable cheeks I may have ever seen. She told me to be prepared, did mama, because he’s a chunk. I assured her how much this old pastor loves a block of a boy. And I said that it’s anyone’s guess if he will be o.k. with a strange woman in a big black dress-thing who wants to put water on his head during a rather strange set of words taking him in her arms. And because I never want to traumatize a child, if he’s better in her or Dad’s arms, I can put water on him just the same.
I said all the fancy words. I had big bro help me pour the rainwater into the baptismal waters. And I held out my arms and he held out his toward me. I melted, of course. In the name of God, in the name of Christ, in the name of the Holy Spirit, may you ever know you are a child of God’s grace.
I asked big bro if he wanted to go on a parade with little newly baptized bro and me down the center aisle and into the heart of the congregation. Once again I introduced a child, the congregation spontaneously clapped (I had not given them permission, whatev *wink) and I talked again about our common commitment to this child and this family to witness to our faith that he might grow up all the while knowing he’s loved by God through the power of a church family who is imperfect and yet holds on to faith in the midst of the bad times, the good times, and the all times. And that when anyone of us can’t, there will always be someone else beside us who will hold on for us until we can again.
We came back up to where mom and dad stood near the communion tables near the mix of the baptismal and rainwaters and we prayed. We prayed gratitude, and wholeness, and humility at God’s grace and embracing love. I kissed him, high-fived big bro, congratulated mom and dad.
Later in the sermon I named the witness in faith that these two boys had made to the congregation. The moment we came into the heart of the congregation, they transformed into a family of teary, and smiling, and nodding, and clapping, and sappy grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters – because God says we belong to one another and love. always. wins.
I’m just going to leave this right here. Those 19 (as of this writing) boys and girls, and their teacher, and the shooter with the gun, all sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters, great grandsons and great granddaughters and nieces and nephews. Baptized, christened, claimed and named whether formally in baptism or not, by a God of prevenient grace who loves us before we even know.
Those two boys had nothing but trust in our Sunday morning sacred gathering. No fear, no awareness of how to get under chairs or lock the doors and turn off the lights, no awareness that the moms and dads, teachers and preachers, ushers and other adults will throw ourselves over and in front of them if it’s ever necessary. They only know that they traveled down a long aisle with a strange and rather loud woman in an odd black dress and a whole mess of oddly different people welcomed and clapped for them without them doing anything but being.
May they NEVER have to know anything else.
Call your Congress people. Call your Senators. Decide now to find out where candidates for political office stand. DECIDE NOW TO VOTE!!! Vote your conscience. Vote your faith in a Savior who never used a weapon against anyone. Not once. Not anyone. And in crucifixion asked God to forgive. Our Jesus. No weapons. Not once. Not ever.
Because we need to hear it again!: