I remembered Saturday night that I had signed myself up for Sunday’s Children’s moment. And I remembered the snowman. Well, that’s what it had been.
It was one of those towels that get pressed into a shape and then when immersed in water again become a towel. I had been carrying this snowman around for literally years. It had come to me somehow at some Christmas and it had made its way from box to bag to car and back to my cloth briefcase. Long ago the design had rubbed off. I had seen it multiple times and had thought, “Someday that might be a great children’s moment.”
Okay, I decided, this was the day.
The problem was there was no way to do a dry run on it. It was a one shot deal.
The kids came forward, just four on this holiday weekend, and I asked them what they thought this snowman-shaped-compressed object was in my hand.
Right off, Dylan knew, “That’s one of those towels that is pressed into a shape and then becomes a towel again.”
“Oh, so you don’t use it just like this?” I played, rubbing it across his face.
“Oh no,” said Aurelia, who also had had basics in soaking objects that become towels, “you need to soak it in water.
“Well, I just happen to have some here,” I told them.
The Capitol Hill UMC had closed and we have been beneficiaries to multiple pieces of furniture and even doors for our new building. So, in front yesterday I found their former and our new baptismal font.
We went to the baptismal font and I put the snowman into the water and it just sat there, this lump of towel, compressed into its long-heated-in-car-and-bag-over-the-years snowman shape. No change happening.
“How long does this usually take?” I asked.
Isaac touched the water, “Oh,” he said, wisely, “it helps if the water is warm.”
“I should have taken lessons from you all before we tried this,” I said.
Aurelia plunged both hands into the water and began to pull with all her might on the little corner that had appeared, but no change occurred.
“Well, it looks like we are going to need to let this soak during worship,” I said.
“Aurelia will you be in charge of checking on it occasionally to see if it has finished becoming a towel?” She was totally into that.
Then, we talked about the baptismal font coming from another congregation that had closed and how baptism is the action of the church demonstrating the change that happens in us, like this object changed into a towel, we change to becoming more like Jesus as children of God. And another thing that brings change is prayer – prayer changes us and the people and situations we are praying for.
So, still awaiting the towel, I had them put their hands on the font to pray for it, to bring it into our congregational life. We bowed to pray, and immediately images came to mind, the faces of countless people, infants, children, adults who had been baptized into Christ with water at that font. It was overwhelming for a moment.
This was no perfunctory thing. This was Living Word, the action of the church to welcome, to set apart, to immerse, to name people as connected to, belonging to Jesus. It was this immense moment for gratitude for this other congregation’s years of ministry, and this anticipation for what blessed overflow was yet to come. My prayer was heartfelt and spirit prompted as the kids and I had hands on that wooden structure around which so many others had gathered.
Then I had them take water in their little hands and fling it over the congregation and tell them “Remember your baptisms and be thankful.”
As the snowman actually did become a towel again, I was reminded that it sometimes takes a long time of soaking in the Person, presence, reality of Jesus to allow change to really take hold. My life has long been on the pathway to that very change from bound up, compressed, limited, small, to expansive, free, and useful. I’m still walking. Buen Camino.