The other day, we had two baptisms during our Sunday church service. One thing that made the occasion especially noteworthy was that the rector was baptizing his own grandchildren, ages two years and about two months. It was All Saints’ Day. The rector gave his sermon surrounded by precocious children, who he asked to help him with his message.
The whole event was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I reacted in such a profoundly joyful way in my deepest soul. It is trite and cliched to say that my heart was exploding or melting, but my heart definitely did SOMETHING quite extraordinary and dramatic during this celebration.
I am certain that part of my reaction had to do with my not having children of my own. I do not get these milestone moments in my individual experience. The regenerating joy of family milestones is one of those empty spaces in my heart. When others are kind enough to share their moments, I enthusiastically… perhaps, greedily… partake.
There is an even more significant reason I had such a profound reaction to the baptisms. The love and grace that God was pouring out that day, as He renewed His Church, was so abundant that it runneth over even the largest cup. As God graced the newly baptized children and their family, that grace overflowed right into my soul. It was a reminder that we are all family through baptism. At least for a time, I become part of the family and piggybacked on their grace. It was also a reminder that all of us in the congregation have spiritual responsibility to support their journeys of growth in wisdom, faith, and favor. In witnessing the ceremony, God also gifts us with grace, and we also take responsibility as members of God’s family.
I am teaching a course on stewardship at my church. Stewardship is about taking care of all the gifts God gives us and using them wisely for the benefit of His people and the glory of His name. We usually think of stewardship in regard to sharing the “three Ts’- time, talent, and treasure. The gifts God gives us are much more diverse than that. The baptisms are a good example.
Most people count their families- perhaps especially their children and grandchildren- as one of their most precious gifts from God. They try to steward that gift well by taking good care of their families. What they may not realize is that is also blessed stewardship when they are generous and thoughtful enough to share their children with the church as our rector’s son and daughter-in-law did. Their decision to share their children and their commitment to God with the community generated more faith-enriching power than they will ever understand.
I hope and believe that these parents also received grace in this act of stewardship. I hope they felt the love, prayer, and support of the community. I hope they felt the special power of God’s grace “when two or three are gathered.” Some time ago, I posted a piece called Giving is FUN-damental, in which I argued that sharing what we have with others is not only noble, but also darned fun! It feels good to give and God often equips us with an extra helping of grace when we have momentum in giving. I hope that the parents of our two new Christians felt that extra helping of grace!
How do you steward God’s gifts to you? Please share your perspective by adding a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a blessed day!