Scripture Reading Luke 18.16-17: People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disicples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me; and do not stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you: whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
On Baptisms, Babies and Such
Think back to the births you remember . . . babies don’t remember, but mammas and pappas do . . . the waiting time, the getting ready time, the he’s coming now time . . . they remember it all . . . sorrow and joy and laughter and pain all mix in together and they remember . . . so remember now, won’t you . . . a happy birth . . .
Babies being born are holy ground places . . . And no matter what station they are born into, no matter who their parents are, no matter, even whether they live to ripe old age or leave us far too soon, God greets them all . . .
The older I get, the more God’s voice, at least in my head, sounds like Dr. Seuss . . . Can’t you just picture it . . . you are born . . . people are gathered . . . and God whispers in your ear . . . and even as a baby, you’re surprised that God is reciting Dr. Seuss’s Oh! the Places You’ll Go . . .
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy [or gal] who’ll decide where to go.
This journey, this child, began literally as an idea . . . his parents may be tempted to believe that he began as their idea, but we know better – every child begins as God’s idea . . . a grand thing, really . . .he’ll do, oh yes, he’ll do very nicely indeed . . .
God knows even better than we parents . . . you’ll always be happy . . . except when you’re not . . . you’ll always be perfect . . . except when you aren’t . . .
And thus the mothering God of Isaiah and Hosea bends down to embrace . . . and to comfort . . . and to raise this new child of creation to the divine cheek and whisper . . . hush . . . of course you failed . . . I always knew you would . . . you’re all right now . .. Shh . . . shhh
And then there are the waiting times . . . waiting for the magic day to come is a waste of time . . . and waiting for things to ‘get better’ is magical thinking . . . and waiting for Godot is but an amusing interlude to a life that’s meant to be lived, not waited for . . .
But . . . but . . . not all waiting is a bad thing . . .
Within the circle of God’s embrace, there is the waiting for the Lord . . . and like all of us, this child will have plenty of that . . .
It’s hard, this waiting on God thing . . . and we’re not very good at reading the signposts . . .
. . . but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. . . The Isaiah promise is for us all . . .
Waiting for fish or kites is silly . . . waiting for God is holy . . . and renewing . . . and joy-filled . . . Waiting for people or the ship to come is wish-filled nonsense . . . waiting for God is holy . . . and beautiful . . . and frustrating . . . and spirit-filling . . . Waiting for God is not the staying-stuck kind of waiting at all . . .
And sometimes other people, other Christians especially, will try to convince you that your baptism was all about repentance . . . about being sorry . . . about piling ashes on your head . . . about being a bad boy . . . a lucky bad boy, but a bad boy, nevertheless . . .
Don’t you believe them. . . not for an instant . . . The God who created you called you not just good, but very good . . . God smiled when you were born . . .
And it doesn’t matter one little bit to God whether you’re famous or infamous . . . or just plain old you to the world . . . you will always be a rock star in God’s eyes . . . and a very loved rock star at that . . .
A long time ago, there was a man baptizing folks in ‘John’s baptism’ . . . the baptism of repentance . . . and another fellow named Paul came along and said, ‘what are you doing?
This won’t do at all . . . don’t settle for John’s repentance baptism, a sorry thing indeed, when you can have Jesus’ baptism . . . the baptism that brings fire to your belly and purpose to your life . . . the baptism that brings God’s very own Holy Spirit to live in your house all the days of your life . . . that’s the baptism for you, Owen, my boy! . . . and for us all . . .
But it won’t all be a bed of roses . . . not in this life . . .
But even when when your feet get tangled up and you find yourself lying flat on the ground . . . we will be there . . . and even when we aren’t there . . . even when we let you down . . . because we won’t . . . except when we do . . . even then, child of God, even then, God will always be with you . . .
Today you come to God as a little child . . .
And all of us come with you, the little children that we still are . . .
We come and lift up our faces to feel the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon us . . .
We come at the invitation of the Most High God, as “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”
Looking back and looking forward . . . we come . . .
In joyous expectation . . . we come . . .
In proclamation of God’s own gospel good news in our lives and yours, we come . . .
God’s promise is for this baby . . . and for us all.
Won’t you reclaim it today?
Let’s stop being sorry, shall we? And start being happy! Joyous! Free!
For we are all God’s own good news. And that is good news indeed.