In a sermon he preached a few years back, Presbyterian Pastor Gregory Knox Jones shared a story about a colleague who was celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism when the infant he was baptizing gave him a surprise. While we Disciples normally do not perform infant baptisms, substituting a Dedication Service instead, still as a pastor reading this, the wheels in my mind began spinning, imagining the “surprise.”
Even in a Dedication Service where the pastor holds the infant, one never knows how the child will respond to someone strange holding them. Will the child cry incessantly, or will it grab the wireless microphone and not let go of it? There are, I‘m sure, a thousand and one ways for an infant to respond, and if you throw water into the mix, you have just increased the number of unexpected ways.
Jones noted in his sermon illustration how most parents in church are sympathetic to parents if the child is unruly, having first-hand knowledge of such an event years before. Yet, those in the congregation seem “perfectly delighted if the child comes unglued when placed in the arms of the pastor.” He then adds, “There seems to be nothing quite a satisfying as a tiny child humbling the pastor in the middle of worship.”
Believe me, I have had more than my share of humble pie during Small Talk, my time with children. And honestly, for the most part, I have been spared such humility when in the act of dedicating a child to God. But in this case, Jones’ friend was baptizing a two-year-old and all was going well. The little boy did not fuss, cry, or tug. In fact, as Jones shared, “he seemed perfectly comfortable when the pastor took him into his arms. He seemed to be completely aware of what was happening and did not flinch when the pastor touched his head with water. But when the pastor said, ‘Christopher, you are a child of God, and you belong to Jesus Christ forever,’ the two-year-old looked him in the eye and said, clearly and articulately, ‘Uh-oh.’”
While pretty sure the two-year-old wasn’t weighing the theological implications of what the pastor had just crowned him with, it is an interesting, if not surprising answer. As we grow into our Christian faith, that same thought probably surfaces time and time again as we seek to live into this calling. Without question, such a pronouncement and a claim on our lives is life-altering. Maybe the best response is to add our “Uh-oh’s” and prepare for the ride of a lifetime. Thanks be to God!
See you Sunday,