I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God." Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.
Sunday dawned clear and beautiful. Here is the conversation inside our lodge.
Bearded Eagle: This choker has a cross on it, so would it be good for church? Does it match my shirt okay? Where is my Bible?
Singing Owl: You look fine! I can't find my chemise...maybe I should dress in my beaded Indian dress instead? What am I thinking? Why did I say I'd baptize a baby?
People gathered on the grassy center of camp. Some brought benches or chairs. Some sat on the grass. This picture looks like it should be called "the children's section."
Ken's sermon was "Jesus Will Meet You Where You Are" from the passage about Jesus and the disciples on the shore after the resurrection. He spoke eloquently about the different places we find ourselves, and how the Lord will come to us in that place of need. More tears. One girl was openly weeping, and I could tell that the man seated next to me was struggling with some deep emotions.
Mother, Father and about-to-be-baptized Child were seated in the front row.
Ken concluded with a time of silent reflection and prayer, allowing each of us to talk to God about our current situations and to invite the Lord into them.
It turned out the man who had spoken to me about baptizing a child was the little boy's grandfather. Here we are: me (looking like Old Mother Hubbard), grandfather, grandmother, sister, mother and toddler. And in the second photo, dad has stepped up, his hair still very short from his recent stint in the Middle East.
People were invited to stay for the baptism if they wished, and everyone did. It was a beautiful scene. The sky was bright blue; the sun warmed our backs as we sat in the green clearing. I was nervous (will I do this right?) and I was feeling a little strange about doing something I never thought I'd be doing. And this may sound odd, but I did have a sense of God smiling at us, maybe even chuckling at my discomfort. Does God chuckle? Perhaps.
Look closely at the group picture and you will see a piece of pottery on the table. It is a little creamer pitcher-- very suitable for baptisms of the "pouring " variety, I thought.
From the Old Testament I read scripture about our responsibility to share the works of God with our children and grandchildren. From the New Testament I read about Jesus blessing the children. We prayed for the family and for little Ethan, who has some disabilities. I led them in statements of intention, and I asked those assembled to do nothing that would hinder the work of God in this little one's life.
The words of baptism, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" felt strange in my mouth as I poured a stream of water over little Ethan's head. He winced. God smiled.
As people began to disperse, the man who had sat next to me told me that he was a Christian who had once been strong in his faith. He said he had not been in church for over a year and he had been questioning God's existence. He went on to say that his wife had left him and their two teenagers, and he had left church and God behind at the same time--struggling through the pain of divorce and feeling estranged from God--very angry. He said, "This was so beautiful, and it was just what I needed. I would not have gone to a church building, but this seemed all right. I know God was speaking to me and is going to meet me where I am." I told him I'd be praying for him and trusting that his journey back to faith would be something he could share with others in days to come.
Later, Grandfather approached with another of his several grandchildren. His voice was uncharacteristicly soft as he thanked me for baptizing his little grandson, and he handed me this little pottery vase. The buckskin-clad boy who stood by his side looked up at me shyly as he told me he had picked the Goldenrod himself. A $20 bill was tucked inside the vase. I think this little vase will stay with me long after my chemise and Ken's choker are dim memories.
Praise be to God, who does all things well.