Benjamin walked across the stage at Baxter Arena the other night. His graduation gown was bight blue with a gold stole. The bowtie was Millard North’s colors: green and blue. The smile on his face was big. I sat and watched from a couple hundred feet away. It was quite a moment.
It seems like yesterday when this shy, little five-year-old boy and I held hands as we walked from the parking lot to his Kindergarten class at Willowdale Elementary for the first time. Thirteen years weren’t supposed to go by this fast. Many of the days were long, but the years were short. The boy became man.
About fifteen hours after Benjamin walked across the stage, I stood in front of our congregation and baptized a beautiful little girl and then did the same thing ninety minutes later with two twin brothers. I have started doing baptisms a little differently in recent months. At the end of the baptism, you all read the following response:
With God’s help we will speak and act like Jesus Christ. We will surround this person with a community of love and forgiveness, so that they may grow in their faith, and be devoted in their service to God and others.
Even though we have just been reading this liturgy for a month or so. You all have been living this out since we started 13 years ago. The little boy didn’t become a man by himself. The little boy didn’t become a man with just the help of his parents. The little boy became a man with the help many invested and caring men and women. The people at The Water’s Edge are at the top of the list.
You spoke and acted like Jesus to Benjamin.
You surrounded him with a community of love and forgiveness.
The night before Benjamin’s graduation, we had a party for him. It was a bit overwhelming. Based on the amount of sausage and pasta and cupcakes that were eaten—probably around 500 people came over the three hours. Many who knew Benjamin well came. Many who didn’t know him well came. You hugged him and shook his hand and invited him to share his story and his dreams. You continued to speak and act like Jesus and surround him with a community of love.
Times exist when the words “thank you” don’t seem like enough and now is one of those times. Thank you for being the church.