There are days when you know for certain that this is the MOST WONDERFUL JOB IN THE WORLD. Today was one of them.
You see, this afternoon, Harriet had asked me to bless the"adoption" of her godmother….
H. is 5 now, and was baptised as a baby, with 2 lovely godmums and a godfather too.
She was very fond of all of them, and they of her (she is a rather shiney little girl, so I tend to agree with them) and was quite devastated when one of her godmothers became ill and more ill and finally, sadly, died.
H missed her a lot and when her baby brother came to St M’s for his baptism, she was a bit sad, so her mum and dad had a chat with me. Was there any way that she could have an extra godmother added, so that she would have 3 special people of her own, just as her brothers did??
I explained all the reasons why she couldn’t really have another godparent as such, as the baptism promises had been well and truly made already, and this was understood and caused no problems. But none of us could see any reason why she shouldn’t invite another adult to take on some of the godparent’s role, and it seemed to me that this was a relationship that God would delight to bless.
Fast forward to this afternoon in St David’s Chapel, the nearest thing we have to flexible space in the church. A group of 16 adults and children sat in a semi circle, watching H and her mum light a large candle, a sign of God’s presence with us. As the service went on, she lit a smaller light from it, to remember W, and we talked of how she is now with God, who is light and goodness and love.
Then came Harriet’s surprise. I thought she and her brother had prepared a poem to read but what actually happened, (and you’ll just have to believe me that this was in fact utterly wonderful, and not remotely cheesey) is that they sang, alternate verses, right the way through “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. When they finished the last verse, and the traveller in the dark was led safely home, there was the sort of holy silence that happens only rarely. 10 adults and 6 children all totally focussed and still.
Then, in response to my questions, M promised to
“pray for Harriet,
…..support and guide her through life
And help her to grow in knowledge and love of God?”
and together they lit two more candles, so that the chapel became a place of warmth and light. We prayed for them, and for each other, adapting prayers from the baptism service and also that wonderful prayer that I learned in childhood, before I realised I was learning anything, as it was written on my baptism certificate hanging over my bed
“Defend, oh Lord, your servant H with your heavenly grace…” We looked ahead to the day when in another special service H might come to make her baptism promises her own.
Harriet’s father read a version of her favourite Bible story, the parable of the lost sheep. I asked all the adults to think how much they love their own child, and the children to feel themselves loved and loved by their parents, and then reminded them that God, whose love outstrips anything we can ever imagine, loves each of them as if they were His only child.
For this afternoon, I think they believed me.
I blessed them in his name, and we went out a bitter November evening, and the sky was full of stars.