Sunday, July 18, 2004

His Vision And Blue Eyes

Sweet little Jesus boy
They made you be born in a manger

I'm used to messy church...but today I think Amy and I were more of a mess than anything else. We were out of sorts.

Some of that was to be expected having been away for a couple of weeks. Amy woke up in pain so we prepared to leave church early if need be, but we never did really get on track. When we arrived we discovered two baby dedications were planned for today's service. That meant a bunch of people were there, which didn't do much for Amy's increasing anxiety around crowds. Additionally I was befuddled because I had never heard of one of the kids we were dedicating.

Church is an important part of my life and I thought, "Man how out of touch have I been lately that there is a family here I not only don't know but whose baby is being dedicated?"

That stuff might happen in big churches, but it doesn't happen in least I thought it didn't. Later I learned the second child's family is friends of the other couple who were dedicating their daughter and they decided to double up. They weren't members. I hadn't let the world at large distract me from something so important. I was relieved, but the confusion continued as I struggled with replenishing paper towels (whoever invented those center core paper towel thingies I'm sorry I won't see you in Heaven, but I suppose it's reassuring to know there's a special place waiting for you elsewhere). Eventually I got the paper towels in the kitchen replaced without too many people noticing I was muttering words that were not normally heard in church but then realized, as dozens and dozens of visitors poured in that we had zero napkins in the church. We had plenty of donuts - you have to feed Baptists or they can really turn on you - but no napkins.

I whipped down to the local 24/7 rip off store and bought some napkins and still got back in time to find a place in our small parking lot which was quickly teeming with cars as more visitors arrived. To my relief, everyone had a napkin for their donut

Although Amy was leading music, she asked me to sit on the back row in case we needed to make an early exit which added to my sense of abnormality. I'm usually a second row church-goer - close enough to hear but out of range of Gordon's spittle...not that he really spits...much.

When services started I closed my eyes and tried to quiet my heart. As we stood to sing I noticed there was a family in front of me. The father was holding his young son who was facing backwards staring at me. He was obviously intrigued by me. I've had this effect on children in church before, apparently most kids think that people who sing can carry a tune, I've sort of decided God has chosen me to deliver these children from that illusion. I sing....but it can be a shocking awakening to the very young....or for that matter anyone within earshot

This little boy had big blue eyes and he never took them off me. I couldn't help but smile, and he smiled back. I finally began to relax. I thought about children and innocence. I prayed to God asking for tranquility and strength. I felt humbled by my sense of need and ashamed at my sense of urgency.

Long time ago
You were born
Born in a manger Lord
Sweet little Jesus boy

I was still keeping my eye on Amy and was fairly certain we'd be ducking out the back door, but each time I started to feel anxious I'd look over and see that little boy's gentle gaze.

Sweet little Jesus boy
Born a long time ago
Sweet little holy child
We didn't know who you were

Amy finished leading music and came back to sit with me. I could tell by her expression that we wouldn't be staying, but then a woman, one of the many visitors, got up to sing. She sang these words from the depths of her soul:

Be thou my vision
Oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence - my light

Amy and I were both moved. It was very stirring.

I looked in front of me again and saw those big blue eyes of innocence staring back and that little joyful smile.

Amy and I left quietly out the back door.

I knew today we had received what we needed.

* Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Robert MacGimsey
** Ancient Irish hymn translated by Mary E. Byrne