I have attended the same church for almost 16 years. The pastor is an amazing man who truly has a heart for Christ and our community. As long as I've known him, he has challenged us to be "Jesus in skin" for those around us, to make a "maximum impact for Christ" and to "do life like Christ." While his messages are always passionate and challenging, today's words were at such a level I felt like I should take my shoes off, because surely we were standing on sacred ground.
A young couple in our congregation found out they were pregnant with their third child this summer. The elation was soon replaced with the heartbreaking news that, while the baby was growing and viable in the womb, it would not live long after birth. After much prayer and (I am sure) heart-wrenching talks, they elected to carry this baby to term instead of having it taken earlier. They are adamant that the life within the mother's womb is a baby who was created "fearfully and wonderfully" (Psalm 139) by a loving God.
The due date is now upon this precious family. On Tuesday, the baby will be delivered and probably only live a short time out of the safety of the womb. Today, our church participated in a baby dedication for this precious little one that we will never meet this side of heaven. The parents stood before the congregation to give testimony to their decision and the grace that God has bestowed upon them during this journey. As our pastor noted, when you are "squeezed by life", you find what comes out of your heart. In their case, what came out was the love of an almighty, all knowing and all powerful God.
After a brief dedication time where the couple was surrounded by family and friends, we were challenged to give to a foundation that builds wells with clean drinking water in Uganda through an organization named Holden Uganda: http://holdenuganda.blogspot.com/2011/01/holden.html. These wells are named in memory of children, and we were encouraged to donate in honor and memory of this little one who will live briefly on this earth on Tuesday.
While we donated, prayed and hugged this sweet family, a song was sung called "I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song)" by Selah. It was by a sweet blogger I've read for years after she lost her baby in the same way. (You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLuaGiu73jc.)
At the end of the dedication time, our pastor prayed for those in the congregation who had lost a baby in any way, and who were still feeling the effect of the loss. The number of people who responded to this call was staggering to me because I am sure that my congregation is a typical cross section of any church in the area.
Praying for this sweet family on Tuesday. And thanking God for His grace and mercy on their lives.
Counting down to summer
1 day ago