When Tosha and Matt started coming along to the church they were already expecting their first child. Tosha had that sort of glow that often accompanies women as new life springs forth. Matt had the look of someone who had decided to take a nice leisurely ride on life’s horse, only to find himself hanging on for dear life whilst his steed galloped full speed through thickets and brambles alike. You really couldn’t help but fall in love with both of them.
Time went by, and it didn’t seem very long before baby Huxley joined their family in the world. Handsome like his dad, beautiful and engaging like his mother. He was the sweetest baby on God’s green earth. And I was thrilled when they wanted him christened at a regular Sunday worship service.
It was easy. Just add a Christening before Communion. Make sure there was warm water in the font, (the theological term used for a mixing bowl on a stool), a couple of fluffy towels, and a shell with which to capture water and pour it gently on his head.
Everything was going so well. The appropriate ‘sighs’, ‘ooohs’, and ‘aaahs’ from the congregation as baby Huxley, happily gurgling away, was brought forward by his proud parents. Family and friends strained to get a better look as he was given to my care.
I cradled him in my left arm so I could use my right hand to christen him with the water and make the sign of the cross. I held him over the makeshift font, and as I reached for the shell I looked into his eyes.
………… And God looked back.
I was transfixed, stunned. I hadn’t expected this at all. I certainly hadn’t expected all of God’s vast, divine, awesome presence to be in my arms looking up at me.
God, curious about who I was. God, trusting in my care. God, smiling at me. I thought I was accepting a baby into the family of God but instead I found that it was God who was accepting this human family as their own.
I didn’t want to look away, but I could feel myself losing control. I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyes. The honour I felt at being allowed to take part in this sacrament was overwhelming.
It’s odd, but whenever I’ve met God I’ve never felt the need to ask questions or have anything resolved. You might think I’d want to ask about the meaning of life, or about my part in all this, or perhaps what I should be doing to please God. But no, I’ve never wanted to ask any of those things; probably because everything I could possibly need or want is already in that presence. In those moments of intimate communion nothing else matters but God.
I looked away. I took the shell and trickled water over his crown. I named him as part of the family of Christ, a son of God, and made the sign of the cross on his forehead.
The congregation clapped, and I handed Huxley back to two very proud parents. The service moved on.
– You know, I’ve always wondered what Mary and Joseph saw as they looked at the baby Jesus. Shepherds saw the presence of God and knelt at his side. Magi saw the anointed of God and gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I wonder, what did his parents see?
I suspect they saw the most precious and beautiful thing in the world, and poured out their love upon him.
I suspect they didn’t realise that he was the son of God.
Just as I suspect that they didn’t realise that they, too, were a part of God’s family.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
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