Updated: Oct 4
The first time I ever witnessed a baby blessing at my new church, Wilshire Baptist, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
At the end of the service, the pastor acknowledged the family and they all came up to the front of the church. Pastor Timothy greeted all of them and then he reached for the baby girl. She went to him without hesitation and seemed to instantly be right at home in his arms. Tim has no children of his own yet, but it was clear he had held babies before!
Baby Girl was intently focused on Timothy as he began walking her slowly up the left-hand aisle of the sanctuary, which was full of worshippers who were equally mesmerized.
And as they strolled up the aisle, Timothy began to tell Baby Girl,
“Meet your family. These are the people who are going to be with you and watch you grow up. They’ll cuddle you and watch out for you, and they’ll teach you about Jesus. They’re the people who will nurture you and play with you, who will stand by you, in good times and bad.”
When they got to the end of the aisle, Timothy carried Baby Girl into the vestibule and crossed to the other back entrance, where they proceeded down the right-hand aisle. All the while Pastor Tim was telling her about all the love and care she could expect from those of us filling the pews.
“These people are your family and they’ll be with you all of your days.”
At that point I could no longer hold back the tears. Because I realized this baby girl was going to grow up in a church that would always have a place for her.
If she discovers at some point in her future that her sexual orientation is different from her peers, she won’t encounter a barrier between her faith and her sexuality. If she discovers this difference, she won’t have to be afraid of coming out. And the thought that she might not be welcomed in this church if she chooses to marry a woman won’t ever have to enter her mind.
She won’t have to feel as though she doesn’t belong. That she doesn’t fit. That she can’t truly be a part.
She won’t ever experience being welcomed to her face, and being called ‘unnatural’ behind her back.
There will never be a time when it dawns on her that the difference she’s discovered about herself has the potential to separate her from these people who comprise the only world she knows – her family of origin and her church family. She will never have to hide this fact about herself, knowing that if it becomes known, her whole world could shatter. She will never have to feel the shame and fear of being discovered. She will never have to master the art of secrecy and hiding, of covering up part of herself that others find repulsive.
Instead of expending all the energy it takes to hide and keep secrets and try to figure all this out on her own, she’ll have energy for learning and growing and deepening her understanding of herself and what God calls her to in this life.
She will never have to consider the possibility of not being able to stay at this church. She will never have to defend her place as a baptized believer in this community of faith. She will never be denied the opportunity to use her giftedness to serve the Body because she fell in love with and married another woman.
And she will never hear the callousness of those who say she has no place within the Body of Christ.
Maybe from other Christians outside.
But not from this church.
And she will stay,
For all of her days.
My grandmother holding me, just a bit older than Baby Girl.