On Sunday we welcomed little Niklas into the Redeemer family. He wore his family’s cherished baptism gown that has been passed down from generation to generation. The newly refinished baptismal bowl gleamed in the glow of the twinkle lights on the Christmas tree.
And then on Monday at Redeemer, a long-time member was laid to rest. The funeral pall was stretched over the coffin. Prayers for the family were spoken. Mourners gathered, sharing memories and tears.
Baptisms and funerals back-to-back. This is what happens at Redeemer and in churches around the globe. Before the water is dried in the Baptismal font, pallbearers are carrying a coffin up the church stairs. From cradle to grave, God’s church is a haven for the community of Jesus’ followers.
At times like these I feel the comfort that my church family brings me. A pastor’s family often does not live close to their biological families, and our family is no exception. Mine live in Michigan and Colorado; my husband’s in Missouri and Arkansas. But my church family helps and supports me in countless ways. Sure, we get on each other’s nerves too, but I find in my congregation numerous friends, helpers, “adopted” children, moms, sisters, brothers.
A church family also can give comfort when a family member dies. My grandmother whose cream cheese cookie recipe I love at Christmastime, died many years ago. But making her cookies and sharing them with those I love helps connect me to my past. And as I get older, I want to be that mentor for the youth of our church, like she was for me.
A baptism and funeral back-to-back also makes me think about beginnings and endings. During this time of year, we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014 with high hopes and good cheer. Our days go by so quickly. I feel the tug of gravity, giving me wrinkles. I sense the days passing quickly as my little boy goes off to college in 2014. And yet, through it all, God cares for me and my family, watching over us, providing all we need. And that is a cheering thought.