She stuck with him for about two minutes. Like all children, my daughter Ilse has a tendency to be unpredictable during the children’s sermon. As my colleague was talking about the promises God makes to us in baptism, Ilse’s eyes wandered up to the balcony and when she spotted that special someone her face lit up. I knew she only had attention for one person in the world in that moment: Sarah the ninth grader. I maintain that there are few other forces in the world that can match the power that teenage girls have for 1st grade girls like my daughter. At first, Ilse pretended she was still paying attention to the pastor, but it soon turned into waving to Sarah, shyly at first. But when Sarah waved back from the balcony Ilse began blowing kisses. Trying hard to keep my own giggles under control, I thought it was pretty appropriate for the girls to be blowing kisses during a children’s sermon about baptism.
In baptism God promises that we belong to God forever and we are called God’s children. But we are also welcomed in the body of Christ and belong to each other. We are called to work, play, worship and tend one another whether they are the people we would choose or not. In this body of Christ we are given the gift of seeing God – whether it be through a ninth grade girl, a man in his eighties, or the baby who was just born. In our encounters together we encounter God.
When Ilse sees Sarah she lights up because she just takes pure delight in who Sarah is. Ilse doesn’t know or care about whether Sarah is an A student, does the dishes every night at home, or is the best on the swim team. She just takes delight knowing a “big girl” at church who always stops to say “hi” and smiles, waves and blows kisses right back when they are offered. I see this pure delight in others in our community as well. The woman who knows every preschooler’s name and what is important to them. The high school boy and retired man who became friends on church bowling outing. The widow and the young family who serve a meal together for the hungry once a month. Even though their daily lives are very different, when they see each other they take delight in being friends; bound together by love, shared hugs and our life together Sunday mornings and beyond. They all belong to each other in ways that that make them, and God, light up! We are joined together in this mystery- marked, called, welcomed.
Honestly, I don’t always light up when I see people. In fact, sometimes I sigh or groan. Sometimes I move in the world thinking that I am an independent entity rather than a part of the body. But then I remember the great gift of community that we receive in baptism and feel the life giving water and word seep into my dry bones and I come back to life.
The sweet exchange of waves and blown kisses between Ilse and Sarah reminded me that not only do we belong to each other in baptism, we can take delight in the opportunities that God gives to us in that other person. Who will teach me today? Who will change my mind today? Who will speak in word or deed something of God’s love for me today? Who can I delight and bring a bit of God’s grace to today?
I’m going to take my cue from these girls and light up a little more often when I see others. I might even start blowing kisses!