Saturday, April 13, 2013

Promises, Promises

One year ago today on a beautiful, spring Milwaukee day, washed in the waters of baptism, Sophie Pearl was claimed as a child of God.

As one of her godmothers, it was a privilege to stand at the font and witness God's amazing love.  It was awe-inspiring to promise to support and care for Sophie, to promise to teach her the Lord's prayer, the creed, and the commandments, to model for her and to teach her to strive for justice and peace.

On this one year anniversary of Sophie's baptism, I offer a letter to my goddaughter.  A glimpse into this amazing grace that envelopes her.

Dear Sophie, 

You may not remember much from your baptism day - or even of this day as well.  But I remember.  The community at Lake Park remembers.  And most importantly, God remembers.  

Today is the one year anniversary of your baptism.  It's another day to celebrate the gift of being a child of God.  But really, there isn't a day that we don't celebrate being a beloved child of God.  Always.  Forever.  Marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.  

Yet, there will be days when you don't feel very loved and special.  There will be days when it is hard to remember that you have a special calling in life.  There will be days when you'll want to give up.  There will be days when all you will see is darkness.  

On those days - on days when it's a struggle to remember your identity in Christ - it is all of God's people who will remember for you.  For God remembers.  

Leading up to this anniversary of yours, I've spent much time in the CCU of the local hospital.  A dear member of the congregation I serve is dying.  He doesn't want to die.  He wants more time with his wife.  He wants more of the goodness and love he has received throughout his life.  But he does know that the end will come.  

You may not think of a hospital room as a glimpse into the kingdom of God, but this week, the kingdom is overflowing.  Each time I visit this member he wants to tell stories.  He wants to share of his life.  He wants to remember.  

And what does he remember?  Lots.  Lots and lots of stories.  And lots and lots of bible verses.  Readings from Shakespeare.  Bryant's Thanatopsis poem.  The preamble to the Constitution.  The 23rd Psalm.  And songs of the church as well as "You are my Sunshine."

He remembers much.  Each time another family member or friend arrives, he begins the recitations again.  Over and over again.  

His wife used to tell him to be quiet - for he'd shared these stories and verses so often.  But now in the hospital room and no hope of returning home, he shares freely and his wife looks on lovingly.  

I listen to his voice and his heart.  I hear the 23rd Psalm and somehow I hear God's voice reciting along with him.  "For thou art with you."  

Yes, God remembers.

I listen to him sing, "You are my Sunshine."  I, too, hear God's voice singing with him, "Have I told you, how much I love you?"  

Yes, God remembers.  And God joins in the song.           

So, dear Sophie, if all you remember of this day are the stories and songs that have been passed down.  That is enough.  If all you do is look at the pictures, remember who brought us all together.  If all you do is light your candle and hold it up for all the world to see, remember who first called you out of the darkness and into the light.      

All I can say on this one year anniversary is to keep listening for the songs.  God's songs.  Thank God that God's promises are ever-lasting.  Thank God that the words and promises we offer are words and promises that are the melody of our lives.