Ella cries but finds peace anyway

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We’re a growing congregation and baptisms are frequent.  Last Sunday, we celebrated the baptism of Ella.  She hasn’t been in this world very long but already she knows it’s not always comfortable.  She fussed mildly off and on during the service, was quiet momentarily when her family brought her to the baptism font, and then she began to cry again.  She cried throughout the baptism with water, and she cried while Pastor Carol anointed her with oil.  When Pastor Carol touched little Ella’s frowning mouth, Pastor paused before she said, “May you continue to sing the praises of God.”

Then Carol took Ella into her arms and walked the little wailing girl down the aisle, presenting Ella to her greater family.  Carol addressed Ella with the words she uses to address each person who is baptized, words she has adapted from a poem by Pablo Casals, words we all love to hear because they are a beautiful truth:

Ella, Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel. You are unique.
In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you.
In the millions of years that have passed, there has never been a child like you . . .

Pastor Carol held the new sister out to us.  We moved in the pews to look at this child, and we marveled at her beauty, secure in our knowledge that though she cried, it would not be for long.  We know this because we are older: we have experience in seeking succor.

When Pastor Carol and Ella turned back and approached the front of the sanctuary, Ella suddenly stopped crying.  Carol gave the peaceful baby to her parents, then turned back to face us.  It was one holy moment of many, as Pastor Carol observed that during baptism, every crying baby she holds finds peace when the baby is received by the congregation.  “When taken into the body of Christ, peace always comes,” she explained to us, we who are the body of Christ.

What an amazing sacrament baptism is.

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