I went to church yesterday. That’s not so unusual. Most Sundays you’ll find me in some church somewhere. This particular Sunday I was struck by an old hymn we sang, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” Even though the song is rife with archaic, medieval sounding language, the song and the events of the day grabbed my attention.
Children of the heav’nly Father safely in his bosom gather…
There we were, safely gathered all in the same place, Baby Eli and his mom and dad, George, Hope, me and the rest of the congregation.
God his own doth tend and nourish; in his holy courts they flourish…
Of course, the point of attending church on Sunday is to worship God. That is not to say that God can’t be worshipped any other day. I believe that all of life can be an act of worship. But yesterday, through the sacraments of baptism and holy communion we were ‘tended and nourished’ and reminded of why we worship God.
…in his mighty arms he bears them…
Baby Eli was baptized. Baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins by the sacrifice Jesus made for us. It is a sign and seal of God’s covenant of grace. After the baptism and while the congregation sang, Eli, carried in the strong arms of his dad, met his church family. The simple act of a dad carrying his son provided a poignant picture of the God about whom we were singing.
From all evil things he spares them…
George. About 10 years ago I had an unpleasant encounter with George. Even though I no longer remember the details of the disagreement, I remember the strong feelings expressed and the inability to amicably resolve the problem.
George showed up in my church yesterday. He was there for the baptism. I’d like to say that we talked, reconciled and left as friends. It didn’t happen that way. Maybe it will someday, but yesterday our paths didn’t cross. However, I left with the realization that 10 years ago God helped me through that very difficult time.
I’m sure that George and I have probably changed a bit over the 10 years, hopefully for the better. I know he is not evil, then or now. And, like me, Eli and the rest he also is a child of the Heavenly Father.
Though he giveth or he taketh, God his children ne’er forsaketh;
The service concluded. It was time to head home. I headed toward the exit and there walked Hope. Actually, there limped Hope with her strong right leg clamped in a brace.
She is a former student of mine from six years ago. A gifted runner on the cross country team that I coached. A sweet kid. It seems that a freak twist of the knee damaged something. Now in her senior year she is missing the beginning chunk of her cross country season. Disappointing I’m sure.
We talked. She seemed upbeat, hopeful that the MRI results will deliver good news. For now the ability to run has been taken from her. I pray that she knows that the One who loves her the most and the best has not forsaken her.
Children of the heav’nly Father… his the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy.
Today’s gift is the reminder that baby Eli and his parents, George, Hope, me and you are indeed children of the Heavenly Father. This is the Good News…