Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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January 16, 2017 “Child of God”

It is a beautiful arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me.”  It begins with a countermelody with the words, “We are all God’s children.  We are all God’s children.  We are all God’s children; we are one in the Lord.”  Then the choir begins singing familiar words, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”  Finally the words we learned in childhood and stored deep within our souls make their appearance, the choir singing with gusto, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

 

It was the perfect song for a perfect day—a perfect day in the life of the church.  What makes a perfect day in the life of the church?  Well, most any day is a perfect day in the life of the church because we are all God’s children, and we are gathered to share fellowship with one another, to love and support one another, and to praise our God who gave us the gift of life and of relationships.  But on this particular perfect day we were to experience one of God’s special means of grace.  We were to baptize a little one into the life of faith, to declare our love to her and to her family and to pledge our willingness to nurture her in the Christian way until she could profess faith all on her own.

 

She was a beauty, held in the arms of her parents—dark hair, big eyes, beautiful white dress chosen especially for this day.  She smiled with all the charm any baby could muster, and she occupied herself with first one thing and then another all through the words of the liturgy, unaware of the heart-wrenching emotion filling all those gathered at the front of the church and sitting in the pews nearby. 

 

Then came the moment—that moment they had rehearsed, prepared for with due diligence.  I have seen the importance of it all through my ministry—the act of holding the baby before his/her big day, the practicing a rocking motion or whatever it is that calms the little one, speaking to him/her gently all the while.  But we all must know that no matter how much rehearsal we may do, how much rocking or gentle words we may have readied, little ones are always in charge.  And so it was on this day.  Hannah did not like being taken from her mother, did not appreciate water on her head, did not want to be paraded around the church to meet her new family—the church.  And so she did what babies always do.  She cried out her protest as diligently as she was able.

 

I was reminded of the Psalms and all the gentle words of praise and assurance in the life of faith that the Psalmist so often lifts up, “The Lord is my shepherd…” or “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help.”  But the Psalmist also was noted for lifting up powerful words of protest to God when circumstances of life were not those that were desired.  Perhaps the most poignant of these is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”

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