Today, my baby girls were dedicated at our church.
Evangelicals and charismatics don’t do infant baptism, rather saving baptism for later, when a conscious decision can be made with regard to explicitly choosing to follow Christ. I think it to be truer to the apostolic heritage than infant baptism, a convenience born of perceived necessity during the medieval era when infant death was commonplace and unqualified original sin was, um, all the rage. Regardless, we take our religious faith seriously, and seriously enough not to be cheesy or sacrifice our credibility as human beings. Some of that comes out in these posts; I make no apologies for it. (Many of my takes on religion–this one in particular and others–aren’t going to be garden variety, anyway.) We want our church and family to help us raise our children to be decent human beings who will claim the resurrection when the time comes.
Being native to the Upper Midwest, I never thought dedication to be a particularly big deal; it just never seemed to resonate with me, whereas Catholic and Lutheran contingencies back in Wisconsin were big on spritzing babies. Moving down toward the Bible Belt, I find just the opposite: dedication is a very big deal and, well, there just aren’t that many Catholics or Lutherans around, period.
It was a great day with family and friends. That said, there are four people I wish could have been there for it, or could have participated in it. One is wife’s mother, who passed away before I could meet her. Today’s service ironically reminded wife’s family of her in singing “How Great Thou Art”, one of her favorite hymns. Another is my brother (and his family) who couldn’t logistically make the trip down at this point but will soon. If I’ve learned anything by moving away, it is that I hate being so far away from them. Another is my former pastor and mentor in Kansas City, and one of the few who had enough courage to believe in me. Sunday, being Sunday, makes that impossible.
Finally, I would have loved to have had my family’s pastor from our days in Milwaukee there, the minister who dedicated me as a baby. All things being equal, I would have valued the symmetry of having him dedicate our babies, and an added excuse to be able to sit down with him and talk for hours. Not that I’m in any way ungrateful for our pastor and his friendship and leadership (he even rocked the pink patterned dress shirt and tie for our girls today. Nice touch.) Not by a longshot, which brings me to my main point.
Nothing in my life has gone particularly well or smoothly. I’ve spent more of my life fighting than I care to admit, and it’s easy to slip into cynicism and self-loathing. Even so, and sometimes in spite of myself, I find myself only grateful: for friends and family, for mentors past and present, for the small blessings, and the little blessings sleeping in the other room. And I find myself grateful for this little webspace, for you, the reader. As often as I can, I click on every subscriber and am interested to see where you are and what you’re saying. I’m honored to be building a global audience with so many incredible stories, contexts and pictures.
In the same way that I am grateful for my church, family and friends, I am remiss if I am not also grateful for you.
You all make this blog possible. Thank you.