The big event of my Super Bowl Sunday was a large gathering of family and friends for the baptism of my great-niece Madison Jean at early worship at Whaley United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Texas.
Baptisms in which young ones are initiated into the Christian family are always special and cherished and blessed events, but so many aspects of this day made it even richer for me. Part of that may have even come from the realization of having missed these moments with soon-to-be 7-year-old Ami and soon-to-be 3 Heidi at the same church.
But I think the biggest part for me was just such a strong thankfulness to God for the legacy of my churchgoing family. My siblings and I have strong roots at Whaley, where Mom and Dad became members when I was just a young thing. Daddy's parents went there, and it's where we celebrated their lives and his when they passed on. My husband, Gene, and his parents also were longtime members there, although I didn't really know them until after Gene and I met in college. Before Gene's parents died and as my parents aged, I became more and more grateful to God for the church and the love of its people.
And one of the neatest things that has happened is that my oldest sister, Becky, still goes there, and so does her oldest daughter and husband and their two girls. And most recently Becky's daughter-in-law, Brandi, began attending. And it's Brandi's daughter who was baptized. Becky's husband, Tom, and Madison's dad, Danny, are both Catholics, but all attended with many extended family members and friends of various faiths. It was Communion Sunday at Whaley, which in the Methodist church is an open table for all seeking God's grace. And most of those attending did partake.
Then the group gathered for one of the meals that is becoming a family tradition for celebrations at the favorite Smokehouse barbecue restaurant. I have so many pleasant memories of that back room being noisy with conversation, and how it quickly quietens as the food is served, only to pick back up as plates are cleared. Many hugs and smiles and much love are shared along the way.
The only negative for me today was a lot of missed photo opportunities. We let one chance go at church (I wanted a picture of all of Mom's family with Whaley ties), and the next one never really happened. But it's hard to interrupt all that talking and visiting to line up for pictures. So we'll just have to treasure the pictures in our minds. Among mine:
-- Brandi and Danny presenting their precious Madison to be baptized. Brandi also officially transferred her membership to Whaley.
-- My beautiful mom, looking radiant in red, accompanied by her six children: Becky, Barbie, Mike, Pat, Kathy and Amy. And certainly I'm not the only one who strongly felt Daddy's presence with us. (I feel it especially at Communion at Whaley, knowing he made a point of partaking on the final Sunday he was able to attend.)
-- Even with that crowd, Mom took her brother, John, to Sunday school, and Amy and I went, too. I feel so at home and loved among those Christian Thinkers!
-- It's always such a delight to see the other great-nieces and their parents, Emily and Brian, who go to Whaley. Ami and Heidi are full of energy, and you never know what they will say or do.
I've written all these words, and they do not begin to capture what all I am trying to express. But maybe the words will help stir the memories in our hearts as we look back -- and as we go forward.
I thank God for every moment and pray that the family will always treasure this rich heritage and that we will live, love and serve to His glory.