I just got done meeting with a group of people who say they want to affiliate with our congregation. There are 19 of them in all, families with children and empty nesters, a widower, a grandmother and a young adult. It's a diverse group; a few of them have been Lutheran all of their lives; some of them come from other faith traditions. And I am amazed by them: by their presence in our congregation and everything they bring. We spent a couple of evenings getting to know each other, learning a little bit about our congregation, and finding out just a little bit about what that word "Lutheran" means.
We talked a bit about baptism and dedication of children. I said that we can baptize at any age, including children and babies. We had a conversation about sacraments, and about what God is doing in baptism.
But while I talked, I have to admit, I realized the oddness of what I was saying.
If you were watching at a baptism, you would see parents bringing their children to be baptized. You would see adults saying that they want to be baptized. You would see a pastor's hands, pouring water over someone's head. You would see what WE are doing. Even so, we say that it is God who is at work. It is God who is doing the baptism. God is using our arms to carry the babies. God is using our hands to pour the water. God is using our voices to speak the words, but it's God's work.
My denomination has a motto: God's work. Our hands. It's a fine motto, but while I was in conversation with our potential new members, I thought it should be this: "God's Grace. Our Hands." I thought this because baptism is God's grace -- God coming to us -- God loving us first, before everything.
Grace is God's work.
And God uses our hands, our arms, our bodies, our voices -- to share grace.
I thought -- when my hands pour water for baptism, somehow and suddenly, they are God's hands, pouring grace. When my congregation's quilters tie a quilt and send it to the women's shelter, their hands are God's hands, tying pieces of grace into a colorful blanket of comfort. When we open our doors to house homeless families for a week at a time, we are conduits of God's welcoming grace.
God's amazing grace. Our ordinary hands.
It doesn't make sense. But it's true.