Let the little children come

Mercy picked up her pink guitar today and started singing. It was impressive not because of the volume (though I must say the girl’s got some lungs), nor her little performer’s stance, nor the dramatic facial expressions she was making which could have landed her a spot on Idol for sure. What grabbed me were her “lyrics”. As she sang, a not-so-simple word continued emerging: “alleluia”. Over and over again, her little mouth formed that word as she strummed her guitar with passion.

You might think we must be a really holy household to have our eighteen-month-old daughter singing her “alleluias” already; but I have to confess that there are a lot of other words she hears with much greater frequency. At first I thought, well, she hears her daddy planning worship every week, or she must have picked that up in church, but she spends most Sundays in the nursery (as do I lately) and Doug rarely practices through the worship set until after she is in bed. Was it the four weeks of intensive Hebrew I got through while she was in utero???

We have had a little bit of drama in our household the past few weeks over our decision to have our son, Aaron, baptized. In our multi-cultural church context, the issue of infant baptism is a hot one and our Latino pastor is more than aware of the potential cost of celebrating this as part of our church life. Mercy was baptized almost a year ago and our pastor got a lot of flak–one new family even left the church.

Doug and I are clearly in the minority in our congregation, even among the Anglos, and so many of our peers here don’t at all understand our position on this. As a lifelong (and current) member of the Evangelical Covenant church, I never thought I would be in a place where I had to explain myself so many times over, or fight for a theological freedom I have grown to assume. It is not her baptism that saves her; only Christ can do that. That is true at nine months, nine years, or ninety years of age! And like Israel she will be saved not because she is strong or mighty or good or beautiful, not because of her righteousness or faithfulness, but simply because God, in his goodness and grace, chooses her.

I guess this morning watching a little girl strum a pink guitar, it all seemed so very simple. God’s grace in my little girl’s life is pure gift, as it is for all of us. And part of God’s grace to her is the provision of parents, Godparents, and a church family who are committed to helping her learn the language of worship, in word and in deed. I do not believe that she understands the meaning of her song yet. But it is my job, and the church’s job, to help her do just that.

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