Ever notice how sometimes what you picture in your mind is not what turns out? Creative ideas are risky. Will it be a great idea? Or will it flop?
In planning the baptism of Killian Stangl, I pictured something quite lovely.. I proposed to the parents that all the children remain at the altar for his baptism. After all, some kids have not been baptised and others don't remember it because it happened in infancy. Here was a chance to see it up close.
Looking back, what did I think the kids would do upfront exactly? Watch quietly? With halos and harps? Soon into the service, I regretted my decision. They were giggling, wiggling, splashing in the water, whispering how cute the baby is.. and I thought "Oh no, what I have I done?"
Later Megan and Craig posted their son's baptism pictures and I saw what my stress had blinded me to at the time: Joy. Joyful awareness on their faces. Yes, they were wiggling. In some photos, my daughter is a complete blur of movement. But on the face of each is an awareness of something special. They have joy in seeing. They are glad to be in the front row!
What I forgot is what most of us forget - the joy of our sacraments, the joy of new life in Christ. The desire to be on the front row of what is happening in church! I too am inclined to sit in the back pew (although I hardly get the chance).
Like a typical pastor (or parent), I reacted to the kids by wanting to limit or contain the children's response. I remember what He told people like me, long ago, when they scoffed at kids and pushed them away from Jesus. He said, "Let them come to me! Don't get in the way." Children remind us to take joy in the world and to delight in the sacred.
Yes, sometimes what we picture in our mind is not what happens. And thank goodness for that! The unexpected lessons are the most memorable and probably the best ones God has for us!