Last Sunday, I had the joy of baptizing Keeley, Dick and Mende Kloppel’s great-granddaughter in a family celebration in our sanctuary. I also had the privilege of officiating the wedding of Keeley’s mom and dad a few years ago so this was a fun extension of the formation of this family. Because of COVID, Keeley’s baptism took place a bit later in her life than usual. She’s about 2 ½ and FULL of energy. We decided we would let Keeley explore the sanctuary a bit while the adults went through the blessing of the water and list of questions. When it came time to involve Keeley, her dad held her and brought her close to the baptism font that now contained the water over which her family had all prayed and added their blessings.
Not wanting to startle her, I first put a little water on her hands so she could see that this woman wearing a long white dress that she’d never seen before wasn’t going to hurt her. The water on her hands was okay so I moved on to letting her feel it on her head. Good to go!
“Keeley Kay, I baptize you in the name of God the Father (water on her head), God the Son (a little more water on her head), and God the Holy Spirit (more water on her head). Keeley Kay, you are a child of God loved and blessed (as a cross is marked on her forehead).”
She was great! But she was not quite through. She leaned down towards the water and put her hand out. I assured her it was okay to feel the water again and helped her put her little hand into the water. She was not interested in just touching it. She took a little fistful and put it on my head. And everyone cheered.
She did to me what I had done to her. And this darling act of reciprocity was met with approval by those she knows and loves and trusts.
This innocent, lovely, blessed act of a child full of energy and wonder has been at the center of my soul this week. I’ve carried her tender response into my wonderings about the future of things. I’ve reflected on other children who have been excellent teachers of the ways of faith. I’ve marveled at how quickly and eagerly children mimic our actions.
That process of mimicking the actions of others is so central to how we learn and how our values are developed and embraced. Children who are recipients of loving actions are more likely to repeat those loving actions to others. Children who are shown generosity are more likely to be generous with others. Children who are welcomed in are more likely to accept others. They will do to and for others what has been done to and for them.
I can’t help but think about our diligent work around creating a safe and healthy environment for our congregation to re-gather during this time of COVID, especially as we move into our fall programing and resume Sunday school. Children will, once again, be in our midst on a regular basis. What we do around them, how we welcome them, how we model safe and healthy habits will impress them. The children will come and we are called to do our very best for them.
And then, we should watch. Because, what we do to them, they will do to others. We have the potential to transform lives and the world every time we encounter a child. What a splendid opportunity.
Have a wonderful week and be blessed. Rev. Lynne