By Cindy Koch –
She smiled as great grandpa offered his hands to hold the squirming little baby boy. Not just because he had become antsy after 45 minutes of a traditional church service where she did everything to keep her 8-month old quiet through reading and sermons and prayers. No, now she smiled because her son was clenched in the strong arms of the faithful who sat steadfast beside her.
Pastor gestured the congregation to stand. His feeble stance pressed with all his might to stand up with that baby boy. Failed on the first attempt, he sat down, grasped the little one a bit tighter and attempted to stand once again. This time the gentle hand of his son guided grandpa and his great grandchild to stand up strong as the congregation sang the Nunc Dimittis.
Lord, now let your servant go in peace, Your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people…”
As grandpa sang these ancient words, the little grandchild clutched tighter to his suit jacket, smiling at the young girls who stood behind him. His wondering eyes travelled from the girls to his grandpa, to his parents, all who sang them same powerful words. Although his little ears are too young to understand he saw all of the people whom he trusted and loved speaking the same words together in unison. Smiling brighter, drooling just a little more, the baby boy was wrapped in the Word of God.
Here, this morning I saw a pure enjoyment of the word of God. Parents, grandparents, children, all confessing the same word and confession of strong hope in Christ alone. Witnessing a simple and powerful moment when a family unites in faith against a world that fights against them. A triumph of Word against sight, The Lord of all truth over the god of our inner being.
But my gaze shortly transferred to the grown-up girls that sat behind this sweet little boy. These little ones were raised in the church, singing the songs of faith since before they could speak, just like the baby they gushed over this morning. With the same fervor as the adults that sang before them, they shouted out praises and thanks to the Lord. Taught by the traditions of their own parents and grandparents, these little girls sang out words beyond the maturity of their experience. Proclaiming truth they have yet to know, they sung out words that God first spoke to them.
But these young ones do not even understand what they will have to face in the months and years to come. Today it is so simple, listening, loving , drooling over the word of God. Yet, a world of opposition will stand against them, enticing them away from the steadfast words of the Lord. Just months later, one of these babes in faith will have to look death in the face as he claims her papa before his time. Yet another will scream at God for the injustice put upon his family, even though he stoically confesses the truth. As much as we want to ignore it, these children will need hope, meaning and purpose.
But they are strong. When faced with death, they know no other than to shout he has no power over me. When threatened with hopelessness, they simply remember the sign of the cross. I am baptized, they recite. Adults like us learn from the focused fervor of those who cling desperately to the word of God alone, even in the middle of our messy, hopeless world. The children who truly love the gathering of God’s people and the Gospel make us remember what God meant this gathering to be.
And then, we find ourselves molding the next generation. Offering to hold the wondering babies, teaching the words of the Lord to listening ears that follow us. God’s forgiveness, love and care is passed through generation to generation through you. Sing with the babies, hold on tight to the children that must confess before their time, learn always from those who love the Words of the Lord. Together we will be strong until the end.