My father was baptized in a little church in Keuka Park, NY some time in 1922 or 1923. My grandparents made promises; they promised to raise him in the church they promised to teach him about Jesus, they promised to nurture him in faith. They promised to do these things no matter what life brought their way. Of course, like all parents, they don’t really believe anything terrible will happen. After all, the child is so beautiful and they are in love and life lays in front of them full of hope and possibility. On that day they publicly proclaimed that my father was a child of God.
Soon Dad has two little sisters with another on the way, life was good. But then my grandfather got sick and died quickly, never meeting his fourth child. My dad was 5 and the ‘man’ of the family. They moved in with grandparents and began to put their life back together. My grandmother found a job working for the county and the family found a house of their own. The depression came with all of its hardships, but my dad was still a child of God. My grandmother kept her promises and taught him about Jesus. He had a good childhood even with all the challenges. I think my grandmother would say it was because they went to worship every week and lived within the community of the church.
Eventually Dad claimed Christ for himself and learned to trust the promises. He joined the Army Air Corp during WWII serving in the South Pacific. He returned home at the end of the war, went to college, married and had his own family. Each of us was carried into church and wasbaptized and claimed as a child of God.
Life moves so quickly. Last week I helped my brothers move my mom and dad into an assisted living home. It happened to be my dad’s 93 birthday. He’s very sad and wishes he could still live in the home he and my mother have owned since 1957 but it’s impossible. This is perhaps the hardest thing he has ever had to do: give up his independence. As his daughter, I am so glad that he is a child of God. I am so glad that my grandparents raised him in the church. My prayer is that even now, even in the midst of sadness and grief, he can remember that he is never alone and that the God of love wants him to have a life that is truly life.
Growing old is not easy. We loose mobility, our reasoning becomes foggy, our reactions slow and our memories elude us. It is so important to remember that we are still children of God. It doesn’t matter what we can do or where we live. What matters is whose we are. I would like to make an addition to the book of Galatians chapter 3, with great respect to the Apostle Paul:
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, nor is there young or old, or you are all one in Christ Jesus.”