MURDER MOST FOUL

The title of this post, "Murder most foul," is a dumb expression. It implies that there's such a thing as "murder not-very foul" and "murder quite pleasant actually." Where did it come from, I wonder? But I digress.

I've killed three small children in this past week.

It's a criminal act, I confess, but let me at least expostulate on the circumstances before you call in the authorities. (Not that I'm so hot on the authorities at the moment, based on a book I'm in the middle of reading, but that's for another post, at another time.)

I drowned them. All three of them. Two boys and a girl, all under the age of three. One was just this morning, a lovely, cheerful, smiling little boy named Nolan. Just wrung the life right out of him.

Well, come on, honestly? They were CHILDREN. Nasty little things. Don't tell me you've never had the desire to strangle some noisy, poorly-behaved little creature until the light went out of its eyes. They're evil. I mean literally evil. Filled with sin, our faith tells us, and stuck in a condition of sin no matter what they do. They deserve to die.

Not that many of them grow up to be much better. Adults can be just as awful, but most of THEM can be reasoned with, at least. Besides, the little ones are easier to kill. Sure, some of them squirm a little, and some of them scream holy terror, but under a couple of inches of water, the screaming isn't so loud anymore, is it?

So I put them to death. Three of them. In the last week. Probably the best thing I did in that time period, too.

Well, maybe the second best thing. I got to serve as a midwife this week, too, and that was pretty neat. Sure, midwifery is a pretty uncommon job for a 35-year old guy in our society, but it is one I delight in nonetheless. It's better even than killing the little brats.

There was this lovely little girl that I had the privilege of helping usher into this world. She's going to grow up to be quite something. Even little, just-born ones have the instinct to reach out and grasp something in those tiny hands. She just wanted to grab on to anything she could get at. A smart one, that little girl. She'll probably be a handful for her parents.

New life is a beautiful, wondrous thing. A holy thing. It's hard to understand how God accomplishes it. Well, not that we do understand. I mean, we can scientifically make sense of the biological components, but where does that spark of life come from, that in-breathing of God's spirit into each new person? Made in the image of God, which means God must be breathtakingly beautiful.

It's a messy thing, too, I have to admit. Fluids of all kinds. Watery, and then oily, and a lot of it... Well, that's maybe too much information.

In any case, in order to be full in my reporting, I should say that I also helped give birth to two little boys. One had the most delightful little smile. I think his name was Nolan, actually. Interesting coincidence, that...

* * *

What would it be like if we talked honestly about Baptism, if we used language to describe what's really happening there, and named and claimed what God is really doing to us? I wonder. Would they stop being something that caused whole families to gather around, including people who have never been in a church since their own Baptism, to have punch and cake afterwards? Would we do it in secret, with fear and trembling? Would we do it at all, like Christians in the second and third centuries, waiting until the last possible moment for fear of the repercussions?

It is something worth celebrating. But it's something a lot bigger and more awe-inspiring than our celebrations usually allow for. Something that shakes me to the core. To think that God does this! To me! Every moment of every day! And as a pastor, to think that I can share this wonderful, fearful, awesome gift with others.

In any case, to Lucas, Arianna, and Nolan, happy Baptismal birthday. Welcome to the Body of Christ.