Life And Death In The Touch Of A Hand
“The baby did not like the touch of my cold hand on his head,” I told Ed yesterday. In our Sunday service, I administered the sacrament of Holy Baptism to a month, old baby boy. In the sacrament, I placed my hand on his head while the Lord’s Prayer was said. The little guy thought it was a long prayer and was relieved when my cold hand had left his head. He did not like the warm water poured on his head either. When his baptism was over, he slept peacefully through the rest of the church service.
Ed had to point out that I can even put babies to sleep in a church service. He wanted to know if preachers ever keep track of the number of people who fall asleep during their sermons. I said that I do notice sleepers if they snore really, loudly or fall off their pew. I also notice those that read their bulletin during the sermon and or go to the washroom repeatedly. According to Ed, who does not attend any church, all churches should sell the sermons that have caused the most people to fall asleep. They would be safer and more effective than sleeping pills.
Putting my hand on the head of the little baby was a treat for me. There are no babies at our house, and our grandchildren are beyond infants. Babies are a wonderful gift of amazement for their parents and family. Tiny little babies may not talk but are able to make themselves heard and cared for with their crying. To touch a baby is to feel a new life ready to sprout into growth, a new individual coming into recognition and honor in the days and years to come.
Last Sunday was also the day a church member passed away in old age. I will place my hand in blessing on his cold head in his casket before his funeral. It will be my cold hand on his cold head. His rest will be in the grave with no more days of earthly living. After the baptism on Sunday, the baby was the center of many pictures and much attention. Funerals center on a final resting place for a body that can no longer respond to attention. Baptisms focus on the beginnings of life and funerals force us to recognize the end of life. Life and death are not in our hands but in God’s.
The Bible makes it clear that there is a time for everything. We each have a time of birth and a time of death. Who can set the date of his own birth? Who can know the hour of their death? With our life and death, God determines them both. In birth and death, God is there. Babies are baptized so that they can know and live in Christ.
We live at a time when many have shrunk God down to an insignificant maybe for others. When believers in Christ face death they know, it leads to heaven. They trust Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”