Last night at Fellowship Feast, I watched as Colin tried to make his way around the room with Llewellyn. He couldn’t go very far before he would be stopped. The interesting thing is that people weren’t very interested at all in talking to Colin – they wanted to hold or talk to Llewellyn. Then Jason Darden came by with Bennett. Same song, second stanza. Then Dana Van Horn had Eleanor and Audrey. Again, same song. It was almost as if the adults didn’t exist. The rest of us wanted to see and hold and touch the children.
There’s something about children, especially new born and young children, that causes most of us to become a bit gentler, a touch more sentimental, a little more sanguine. It’s not that the children I mentioned are all children of church staff (though that is true). It’s that they are children. Childhood evokes for us an innocence, optimism, a confidence and hope in the future that is missing in our day to day “grown up” world. The sad truth is that by the time Llewellyn and the others are in middle school we won’t notice them as much or think they are as cute as we think them to be now. The newness will have worn off.
If we think about it, then, it’s not too surprising that one of the images – both scripturally and from John Wesley – that is used to suggest what happens in baptism and conversion is the image of “new birth.” When we are baptized and incorporated into the faith, something new occurs for and in us. There is an innocence, optimism, and confidence and hope in the future that can be claimed uniquely in that moment. It’s not unlike a new baby in the Fellowship Hall. There are things to be taught, a way of life to be learned, and a whole community of people who want to hold on to you.
This Sunday, we will reflect together on “Swimming Lessons” and baptism as “new birth through water and the Spirit.” The scripture that will shape our reflection will be a portion of the baptismal sermon in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:3-9) and a conversation that Jesus has with Nicodemus (John 3:1-8). In addition, we will celebrate our children’s ministry as children’s ministry staff and the children will help lead the service.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday, whatever age Christian you may be. Who knows? You may get to hold a baby or talk with a child.
Grace and peace. rcf