Signs of Resurrection at UMCG
The other day (about 10 days prior to publication) Meghan and I were out for a walk and I noticed a whole collection of white crocus flowers in a neighbor’s yard. A few years ago, a master gardener taught me that the crocus is often the first perennial to bloom. They serve kind of like the groundhog in the flower world to let us know that spring is on the way and that winter is moving behind us. They often bloom as a little resilient sign that new life is coming. When I see the crocuses in bloom, I get excited about all the new life going to emerge for the next several months. I am amazed how they can handle spring snowfall and frosty mornings that often kill other flowers, but these little but mighty (and pretty) flowers are a sign of resurrection to me. It might be out of order to talk about resurrection in the season of Lent, but I just have to point out resurrection when I see it.
The past four or five Sundays we’ve had babies in church. Nine months ago, when I arrived there was only one baby in our church and our worship services were quiet… too quiet for me. Five of our littlest ones in church right now belong to families already connected to UMCG and we’ve had three more visiting to check out if UMCG is right for them.
It fills me with joy to compete for the congregation’s attention with babies. Yes, you read that right! It brings me joy to be distracted when preaching, praying, or singing by the sound of babies. I can deliver the best sermon in the world and when the Spirit moves a baby to cry or scream (or when they simply get hungry or uncomfortable… crying isn’t always the Spirit’s movement, right) I quickly let go of the discomfort their cry elicits in me and I praise God. Why am I (weird) like this, you might ask? I think babies are the little crocus flowers for the church.
To me a church that doesn’t have the noise of children is a church that is dying (or at least aging). To me, babies and children are the sound of resurrection in the church. The noise of children are the first signs that God is bringing new life to a congregation and that a season of growth is on the horizon. Babies in church is the sound that tells me parents want to raise their children to be Christians who worship and so they take all that energy and risk to raise their children AND worship.
I want us to be a church that embraces the new little life God is offering us today. I want us to be a church that sees our littlest children as a beautiful sign that God has so much in store for us; that God is resurrecting UMCG. I want us to be a church that quickly moves past discomfort over the sound of children and turns it into praise. I want us to be a church that holds hymnals for those who are holding babies so that everyone can sing. I want us to become a church that has a waitlist of nursery volunteers because what happens downstairs is just as important (if not more important) as what happens upstairs on Sundays. I want us to be a church that sees all the babies we have today as God resurrecting a children’s choir in five years from now, 150 children VBS in eight years and the largest ASP trip this church has known in its 55 years history of attending ASP in 2037. I want us to be a church that is filled with ‘adopted grandparents’ to nurture families in faith and parenthood in the 21st century. I want us to be a church that asks the names of babies and prays for them every day. I want us to be the church that gives away a million dollars in scholarships by 2040 because we have so many graduates and we have been so generous in supporting them all their lives. I want us to be the church in Geneva that really takes Jesus’ words “let the little children come unto me” so seriously that the children raised at UMCG boldly reflect the love of Jesus in their daily lives.
Let’s be the church that sees the early signs of spring and resurrection and embraces it, gets excited by it, gives God thanks for it, and lives as a people of resurrection. Maybe this post is meant to be a little break in the middle of Lent, to remind us that resurrection isn’t just coming… that it is here and it’s just starting to break through.
Thank you, God, for signs of resurrection!