Yesterday Paul and I were witnesses to Hannah's baptism, one of those daughters. She is 15 now; still playing the violin!
It was a hot and sultry Sunday morning as we drove down dusty side roads, looking for the Konrad farm, where the baptisms were taking place.
We parked, and unloaded our picnic cooler holding salads, and wrestled it and two lawn chairs up the grassy hill towards the barn where we could see a crowd gathering. Children were running around or jumping on a trampoline, undaunted by the steamy heat.
The pungent smell of manure stung our nostrils as we climbed the ramp into the barn. We parked our cooler and lawn chairs and found a seat near the front of many rows of folding chairs, waved there by Hannah's mom, my dear friend, Ellen.
A band of musicians and singers was getting ready to lead in worship. I spotted Hannah, dark blond braid over her shoulder, and violin beneath her chin.
We joined in the singing, hair clinging damply to our heads in spite of the meager breeze provided by our bulletin fans.
From the floor below a goat bleated, visible through an opening in the barn wall.
There were five people being baptised that morning, most of them by Pastor Randy Jolliffe of Faith Community Church, but Hannah's dad, Jason, was baptising her, just as our son, Peter, had baptised his own daughter when she was old enough to choose to make this public declaration of faith.
On Jason's seat lay his Bible, carefully prepared notes on top. Hannah has his features and many of his personality traits and his tender love for his daughter was in every word.
Ellen had invited me to share a scripture with Hannah during the service. Although I wrote a scripture on her card from Psalm 139, during the service a passage came to mind, and this was the one I wanted to share with this young woman looking for a word of wisdom from her Auntie of the Heart. Although I read from a different version, I love this paraphrase from The Message:
The Message (MSG)
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
I told Hannah that although there were many mentors to look up to who have gone before, all are human and fallible. Only Jesus never fails.
Jason also spoke of following in the footprints of those who have gone before, remembering that we, too, are leaving footprints for others to follow in. Something he said to Hannah, challenges me: "Keep the trail fresh."
Thank you for inviting us to share this special day with you.