This ministry that found me several years ago here in Elkhart continues to challenge and stretch me in ways that are important and necessary. I’ve learned that pain and suffering are not exclusive to celebration. In fact, they are comrades in the journey.
I’m particularly aware of this as I reflect on the weekend past and on the weekend before that. I’m filled with a deep sense of gratitude and joy for the sixteen friends that went under the water in baptism here at GCC Elkhart. (You can watch the service here.) The stories of rescue and redemption that have unfolded right in front of my eyes are incredible and miraculous. Honestly, there are few things more satisfying than when I get to sit with someone and hear their story…where they were, where they are, their hopes and dreams for the future. I love when they find themselves smack dab in the middle of the story of God and they never even knew it! Their story intersected with the story of God and out of that their eyes were opened to the truth of who they are – hope entered the picture and life-change was made possible.
That was two Sundays ago and then this past Sunday we dedicated 11 children. Baby dedication, if you will. It was so great to meet these parents and feel their desire and need for help in this parenting conundrum they often find themselves in. It’s a real act of faith and courage to bring our children to the church and acknowledge that, most of the time, we don’t have a clue. This is why I think this ceremony of commitment is actually more of a “family dedication” than a baby dedication. For sure we pray blessing over the children but what these children desperately need are parents that will nurture them and grow them and show them the way of Jesus. So, as we prayed blessing over each child we also prayed for parents and for siblings. The family unit is outgunned in many instances and needs to be reinforced by the power of the faith community because the ancient African belief that “it takes a village” is actually true. We need each other and never more so than when we are old and feeble and young and desperate. Ironically, we put a time stamp of sorts on those descriptors when, in fact, there is moment after moment, at any age, where we feel old, we are feeble, we feel young and we are desperate. So, we stand and pledge our love and our support. One for the other. It’s what we do as villagers on the journey, as our stories – yours and mine – intersect with the story of God and in that we find assurance that our best days are ahead of us!