Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mine

Some of you know that I just returned from spending a week in Cape Cod with my family. One of the best parts of the trip for me was spending time with my 2 year-old nephew, Sam. I have to say that being an aunt is one of the greatest joys in my life. Sam is so precious, so wonderful. One night, my mom and I took Sam out to dinner so that my brother and sister-in-law could go out for dinner on their own. My mom and I took Sam out for dinner too – but after running around and playing and go-go-going in his new vacation home, a tuckered out Sam fell asleep before we even got to the restaurant. While we waited for our table, and for the first 10 or 15 minutes before our food arrived, I held a perfect sleeping Sam on my lap, and enjoyed all the smiles from staff and patrons admiring Sam’s sweet face. As I was holding him, I was just really overwhelmed with how much I adore Sam, and I was just thinking: “Sam is mine.” Mine. Not as in ownership, obviously, but as in connection. Deep, unbreakable bond. Relationship based on unconditional love.

Sam is not the only person I feel this way about, although he’s pretty darn special. I tend to feel this way about my parishioners too – I remember sitting at an elementary school graduation for some children in my first appointment, and watching as my church girls received award after award, and I was sitting there thinking, “they’re mine.” As the Conference Youth Coordinator for the North Central New York Annual Conference, I look at the young people I work with, and watch them leading worship, and speaking about God at work in their lives, and I think: “Mine.” Just this week I visited one of our church camps, Casowasco, and saw several “former youth” of mine who are now on staff at camp, becoming objects of inspiration to a whole set of young people on their own, and I just felt so happy seeing them in action, in ministry, and I thought, “They’re still mine.” As you may also know, our annual conference will soon be merged together with three other annual conferences in New York State. This June, just before I started at First United Church, I spent a week a training camp for youth from all four conferences. And after a week together, I left feeling like the number of youth who I count as “mine” had just quadrupled. I once baptized a woman a few days before she died from ALS, a most horrific disease. I didn’t know her very well at all – she was a friend of a friend of the congregation. But as I sat with her and said those words: “I baptize you,” I was thinking, “and so now you are mine.”


Mine. As I was thinking about that amazing bond that we can feel with others, imperfect though we are, I thought I was starting to understand, or at least get a better hint at how God feels about us. I think of my love for my nephew Sam, which is certainly one of the most powerful feelings I’ve experienced, and I can only imagine a bit of how much my brother and sister-in-law feel about Sam, their child, who they created, and who is, in every way, made from them, part of them, even while he is unique and all his own. How much, then, must God love us! I think of the chorus of one of my favorite songs from The Faith We Sing, called, “You are Mine,” by David Haas. “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.” God must look at us, and think, “Mine!” My beloved children. Created in my image. So unique. So wonderful. So precious. Mine. God must just treasure us.


Sometimes, we lose sight of that. We can’t see ourselves as God sees us, and/or can’t see one another as God sees. But if you can remember the love that swells inside you when you look into the eyes of your child, or grandchild, or niece or nephew, or godchild, or student, or friend – I hope you can catch a glimpse, a hint, of how beloved you are, knowing that you belong to God.

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