“I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1.8)
Today is one of those days when you wonder how many people will actually arrive at church since it is New Year’s Day. I have long stopped trying to stay awake until midnight to ring in the New Year, choosing to celebrate earlier time zones such as Australia or Asia. I’ve never been a night person anyway or a morning person for that matter. I’m more of a midday person – 11am to 2pm. After that, I need a nap. But knowing that many will stay up late, I’m sure going to church is particularly more challenging than usual. However today, we had a good number, surprisingly most were families with young children. I imagine it’s because like me not getting enough sleep isn’t an unusual occurrence. As parents, you still get to feel like you stayed up to watch the ball drop even if you didn’t. Children are generous that way – waking you up for that desperate glass of water or slipping into your bed in the middle of the night only to be disturbed by a foot in your back. Me? I woke up at 6am to the sweet sounds of my baby girl saying “Mommy, I love you. I love you. Are you listening? HEY, I LOVE YOU. Now you say, I love you to me.”
We didn’t scramble to get ready for church like we usually do on Sundays. I guess I wasn’t feeling the pressure to get to church early to set up and prepare. My Head of Staff did a lovely sermon about community and baptism since it is also Baptism of the Lord Sunday. He listed off things that this faith community does well – one being providing a welcoming place for children and families to worship. I sure have benefitted from that experiencing first hand how this church has nurtured me and my kids from the moment they were baptized to now. I’m grateful that they are ever patient with my 3 year old who insists on stage diving off the pews during worship or filling the pockets of her dress with cookies from the refreshment table.
I get especially wary on days we serve communion, since she has a long history of sneaking away with the communion bread right before I’m about to break it. Since the crowd was small enough, we decided to circle around the communion table and pass the basket of bread and cup of juice to one another rather than the usual lining up to be served. My kids and I were the last to be served. When I handed the basket to my daughter to tear a piece of bread, she insisted on taking the whole thing. When I convinced her to leave some for her brother and me, she still grabbed a huge chunk of the bread for herself.
Some might be quick to judge that this is selfish (but what 3 year old isn’t.) But if you think about it, if there is anything we should want to grab a huge portion of, it’s communion bread. Many times, as I watch adults take communion, they pinch off just enough bread to dip it into the cup and not get their fingers wet – a tiny morsel, not much bigger than a crumb. Have you watched a child take communion? They generously rip off a huge piece that requires them to munch on it until the end of worship. This is the Bread of Life that represents the Body of Christ. As the bread is broken and the cup is poured, we are to partake remembering who Christ is, what Christ has to offer, and what Christ calls us to do and be in light of that. Why not then take a generous portion – at least a big enough one that requires us to chew on it long before we made our way back to our pew.
I guess the next time my daughter tries to steal the communion bread (and I know there will be a next time), I’ll just remember to have an extra one in my back pocket or that “fake” pocket in my robe.