Pastor Tenny - August 30, 2021
(Disclaimer: Be forewarned. This blog is filled with proud grandparent photos. Continue reading at your own risk.)
Anyone who has struggled with fertility issues you understand deeply the joy and the heartbreak that often accompanies the journey for many families who are hoping for children. Sherry and I were on this journey many years ago. Colin and Shannon, our son and daughter-in-law, have traveled down this road. And, I know, many of you have been on this journey as well. But, for Colin and Shannon, and for Sherry and me, our infertility journeys resulted in a beautiful, healthy child. And, for that, we are all so very grateful.
When our granddaughter, Emily Nichole, was born a month ago, and I was able to hold her for the first time, people asked me what it was like. I could only say that it took LOVE to a whole new dimension. While I love each person in my family, there is something extraordinary about holding our little grandchild in my arms or cuddling her under my chin that makes time stop, that makes me ponder my priorities in life, that brings a happy tear to my eye.
While I was preparing a sermon recently about God’s love, how God loves us—no matter what we do—I started thinking about Emily and about the love that surrounds her, the love that will always be there, no matter what happens in her life. As I look at her with awe and love, I wonder if this is anything like God feels each time a new life is formed, or each time a person is baptized and God’s Holy Spirit descends. Is the love that I feel for Emily, and the joy that I have over her miraculous beginning, similar at all to the love that God feels for us?
Probably...but, I would wager that God’s love is even deeper than this Grandpa’s love for Emily.
When I look at her—content, fed, sleeping, freshly-diapered—as she lies in my lap, I wonder what her life will be like, what choices she’ll make, whose life (or lives) she will impact…
…I wonder if God looks at us the same way.
Probably, but with even deeper love and concern.
When I put her in the cradle that my Dad made for Colin when he was born, I think about the generations of family members who have prepared the way for their descendants. When my 96-year-old mom holds Emily for the first time, I pray that Mom, through Emily and all of her great-grandchildren, sees joy and hope for the future.
And, I wonder…when God looks at us, does God see joy and hope? Does God see how each of us might be preparing the way for others who will follow us in faith? Does God look at us, no matter how we are formed, no matter what we look like, no matter our size, shape, or IQ, and say, “You are my beloved child, created in My image, and you are good”?
Yes. Yes, I believe He does!
Do I have questions about Emily’s life, the journey she will travel, and how God will use the gifts she has been given?
Yes. Yes, I do.
And, I also have confidence that our God, who has guided countless generations of my ancestors and will guide countless generations who follow me, will walk with her and guide her steps, every single day of her life.
When my brothers and I were young, and stayed overnight at my Shifley Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, we couldn’t dive into the mounds of food prepared on the table before us, until we said prayers, read a daily devotion, and recited together the 23rd Psalm. I thought we’d never get to eat! But, that ritual helped imbed the last verses of that Psalm in my mind. I commend them now (with a little modification) to Emily, and to all of you who, through baptism, are named, claimed, marked, and sealed forever as children of God.
God prepares a table before you
in the presence of your enemies.
God anoints your head with oil;
your cup overflows.
Surely God’s goodness and love will follow you
all the days of your life,
and you will dwell in the house of the Lord
God loves you, Emily. And so do I.