Monday, October 20, 2008
I Brought You Into This World...
One of my favorite old school t.v. shows is The Cosby Show. I can't find reruns on much now, but when I do, I love watching. I love seeing the family dynamics and how the Huxstable clan works out parenting and marriage. It's great! I especially love when Cliff (aka "dad") tells his kids, "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!" It makes me laugh because I think he's saying this to remind the kids that they don't run their own world. I baptized Molly last Sunday, and in addition to the craziness that last week brought with Charge Conference preparations, it really took me a week to process what happened in that sacrament-day.
For the first couple of months that I was a mommy, for many reasons, I was discouraged in being fully a mom and fully a pastor. Some people told me I couldn't--and shouldn't--do both. And I began to believe them. I started to internalize all of this so much so that I began hiding the "mommy" part of me so that I could be "reverend." Even though all my life I had felt called to be a mother, somehow, I convinced myself that all God really wanted from me was fulfilling the calling in ministry. Then, I started to prepare to offer my daughter the sacrament, to cleanse her from her original sin. And something changed. Some might call it divine intervention, but I call it the awesome power and revelation of God. As I got myself ready to mark my little girl with God's grace, I remembered what baptism is really about.
In the Methodist Church, we have a special way of talking about baptism--we say it's the marking of the child with God's prevenient grace, and it's the initiation into God's kingdom. Prevenient grace is the grace of God that is there for us before we even realize we need it. It's God's love poured out for us in the waters of baptism, and when a child is washed in this water, the gap between God and this child is bridged, and she becomes "initiated" into his Kingdom. That means that this is the beginning of her journey of faith, and those also on the journey will nurture her and show her the ways and the love of God. In a way, God had some prevenient grace for me in all of this. When my breaking heart kept calling out to God to show me that I could be a "reverend mommy," a mom and a pastor, and still be faithful to God, God was answering me, saying, "I'm already there. I already have grace for you in that. I made you a mother, and I made you a pastor. Why do you doubt my grace?" What a life-changing perspective for me!
One of my pastor friends said to me about being the reverend mommy who baptizes her daughter, "Now you can tell her, I brought you into this world, and I washed away your original sin....and I can put it back on you!" That last part was a joke. But the first is powerful...I brought her into the world, and I brought her into the Kingdom. What a privilege and a blessing.