I have been a Christian all my life. I was baptized as an infant in the Evangelical and Reformed Church in Galion, Ohio. When I was 4, we moved to Shaker Heights, and joined the Immanuel Church, also an E and R church. I went to Sunday School there, sang in the children’s choir, and was involved in many activities, as were my parents. I even went to bible school and ‘church’ camp in the summers.
In seventh grade, I went through confirmation classes. It was much different than what is done here! We had to attend church each week and take notes on the sermon. Then in our weekly Saturday meetings we had to discuss and critique the sermon from the previous Sunday. We had to memorize all the books in the bible and know the history of the Evangelical and Reformed church. The Sunday before Confirmation, we even had a public examination in front of the congregation. Scary!
That summer, 1957, I even attended the merger meetings when the United Church of Christ was formed! This was because my father was a representative there.
I attended Heidelberg College, a UCC college, for 4 years, and graduated in 1967, the same day John Townsend, former pastor here, received his honorary Doctorate there.
With a history like that, you’d think I’d know everything about God!
And I did feel like he was always with me. I never doubted that he existed. And although he never actually spoke to me, I knew he was there. He has been there when I have needed him. But, like most of us, I really couldn’t understand how he could love me so much, because I never felt worthy. I wasn’t always kind or good or respectful. I had many regrets. I wasn’t perfect … not even close!
I raised both of my girls here at Federated. They were confirmed here. Barry and I were married here. Grandchildren Andrew, Lindsay, Kyle, and Alexis were baptized here and went through confirmation here. Yet I still didn’t feel like I measured up.
But, as they say, a little child will lead them.
22 years ago, when my eldest Grandson, Andrew, was about 2 years old, he taught me a lot about God!
Here’s how it happened.
He came over to visit and came running into the house, saying ‘Grandma, Grandma, Grandma.” With arms wide open, he jumped into my arms. He was so happy to see me!
I was a little concerned that I might not catch him! But when I did, there was such an overwhelming feeling of joy and love! I thought my heart would burst!
And as I thought about that incident later, it became clear to me that God was speaking to me, using that occurrence to better understand Him.
I replaced Andrew with myself, and me with God. I was running to God, calling out to him, and jumping into His arms. There was no hesitation, no fear. I was running to God with complete trust that (1), He would always catch me, and (2), He loved me unconditionally. No doubts, no fears, just pure love and acceptance of me and who I am.
As for God, He was showing me what I meant to him. The absolute joy that I had felt with Andrew was magnified one hundredfold. My heart felt like it would explode with love for Andrew, and God told me that was how He felt about me. He would always be there for me!!
This is the truth that God wants all of us to see … That He shows us His abundant joy, and extravagant love as we leap into his arms.
Let us pray:
O, Holy One, thank you for speaking to us in the ordinary events of our lives. Help us to be aware of these times and to learn from your messages. Let us come to you like children, and accept and rejoice in your love. Thank you for always being there for us. And thank you for Your son, Jesus, who taught us how to share Your love with one another. Amen.