She Wanted Seconds

This past Sunday we celebrated confirmation. In keeping with the series on Making a Methodist, I preached about the means of grace, the outward and tangible signs of God’s inward love in our lives. These means of grace are conduits in which we can experience and share in God’s unconditional love for us. Confirmation is one of these means of grace. Along with our two sacraments baptism and communion, John Wesley identified several other means of grace: prayer, scripture reading and study, fellowship, fasting, worship and serving others. The whole service on Sunday was filled with means of grace.

This little two-year-old often hangs out with her parents during worship. (We don’t publish the names of children as part of our child-protection policy.) I know from those who sit by her family, her presence is often a means of grace. It was clear that she was experiencing grace throughout the service too. Joyfully and quietly connecting with her fellow worshippers. When dad came up for communion with her in his arms, she turned to me, and we shared a quick blessing while dad took communion.

After returning to her seat, she was curious, and she wanted to be free. Lunging forward, her dad asked her, “’do you want seconds?”  She replied, “yup” and started politely walking up to the front. I watched her the whole time, inviting her forward without drawing attention. But at about sixty feet from dad, she decided that was far enough. She paused before Pastor Mary Gay, me and our confirmands and then turned back as the organ music swelled into our last hymn. In the text exchange between Dad and Dr. Greg later that afternoon that gave us the full story, I realized the best sermon on the means of grace was preached by this two-year-old who brought joy to many as she came forward for seconds.

She spent the morning experiencing the means of grace in the welcoming community, prayer, song, scripture, sacrament – full of worship. And she rightly wanted more. I was watching the clock to not rush but to end on time. Instead, I would have been better served to realize how much grace was flowing in the sacred hour and found more ways to have more, to leave us wanting seconds. I’m not getting down on what was a full and moving worship service. I wish I had followed this little one’s lead and dialed it up to eleven.

I invite us to heed the powerful message preached by the innocent and spontaneous actions of a two-year-old: to seek “seconds” of grace in our lives. Let us not be satisfied with a mere sampling of God’s love but let us hunger and thirst for more. Let us intentionally engage with the means of grace that God has provided for us, knowing that as we do, we open ourselves up to deeper experiences of His presence and transforming power. Whether it’s through prayer, Scripture, fellowship, worship, or serving others, may we continually seek to deepen our connection with God and experience the means of grace.

In doing so, these means of grace shape us into disciples who illuminate our communities with God’s grace.

Grace and Peace,

P.S. – thanks to Kei Narimatsu for the photo and to this little girl and her family for their permission to use this story.