On Externals...and Fear
On Sunday, Olivia was baptized.
On Sunday, Kenzie was accepted to the table.
On Sunday, all five of us joined Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
It was a rather spectacular Sunday, one highly anticipated.
Olivia had finally been born. A beautiful baptism dress had been selected and gifted to us. A joint birthday party celebrating Kenzie and Judah had been moved to the Saturday prior, allowing family driving in to attend both events. A “dry-run” Sunday worship service the week prior had gone great, even though mother and baby were barely two weeks post-partum.
Kenzie had finally spoken to our Elder about taking the Lord’s Supper. For nearly two years our evenings have been enriched by family worship. Kenzie has learned over 15 Heidelberg Catechism Questions and Answers, numerous bible verses, and songs sung in Redeemer’s service. For almost six months our Sunday morning worship services have included her queries, participation, and disciplinary opportunities. When she began connecting the bread with Christ’s body, the wine with Christ’s blood, and asking to participate we rejoiced to see her application of faith.
After nearly a year we determined to join the body that has fed us, rejoiced with us, taught us, and imaged Christ in corporate worship. Our parents and (most) of our siblings planned to attend, taking leave from their home churches to celebrate with us.
Saturday night was the roughest night of Olivia’s young life. Judah spent most of his sleep time hours coughing, keeping Kenzie from her rest. The Torreys awoke woefully ill rested for a Sunday presenting us before the church in all our glory.
This spectacular, anticipated Sunday almost drowned in externals and fear.
Would the circles under my eyes mar the baptism/membership/family photos I had planned?Would Olivia spit up all over her satin gown? Or cry throughout her baptism? Or refuse the slightly irritating but "necessary" headband?
Would Kenzie wear the dress we picked for her without a fight? Or allow me to fix her Medusa curls? Would she answer her questions loudly enough? Would she pay attention to Pastor Jack? Or be distracted by the stage, the people, the candles, the dangle earrings of the woman on the front row…anything really?
Would Judah walk up to the front with us or require Joshua to carry him…placing babes in both our arms and leaving Kenzie in her 3yrold maturity to walk with us, stand with us, stay with us, return with us?
The list could go on. And on. In fear and focused on the external aspect of everything that could occur on Sunday morning. Because guess what? Most of what I feared from that list above happened. And everything that I anticipated with joy and great thanksgiving did happen.
Please hear that. God is good despite our fears. God’s church forgives our rumpled dress, bloodshot eyes, and distracted natures to welcome us as beloved brothers and sisters.
I went into service covered in fear, beautifully clothed but wretched in spirit. As the service progressed I recognized that fear, confessed that fear, and allowed the confession of my faith to change fear into courage.
We stumbled through the ceremony, and in our weakness He was proclaimed strong. Would I rather have presented a family perfectly prepared for each step, children who coo’d rather than cried, who obeyed immediately with joyous grins? Yes! God willing we (and our offspring) will learn to be that, by God’s grace and in His power. But on Sunday, we gave an example of God’s great grace – we might have been a hot mess of tired, troubled sinners, but He was faithful to our attempt at obedience. Our youngest child was baptized. Our eldest child was recognized as a participating member of the church. Our family was incorporated in Christ’s family at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! Amen.