Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Ten

Life as a missionary on a tropical island can be so rough.  The overwhelming heat, extreme humidity, stale American food we had to pay way too much for at the grocery store, weevils that kept getting into the flour, unwashed natives who refused to leave their nominal Catholic or Anglican faiths to become "true" Christians like us.  It was all such a hardship.

Obviously, the pristine beaches were exempt from hardship categorisation.

One way Dad showed grace and compassion to the people to whom he was ministering was his refusal to dedicate certain babies in the church.

In fact, now that I think on it, I don't remember a single baby dedication that actually took place during a church service at all.

Normal attendance was just a couple more than this.  Our family more than doubled the membership.

Dad denied this special privilege to those babies who were conceived out of wedlock.  So, pretty much every child we came into contact with the whole ten years we were there, excepting a few.

Instead, he would conduct a private dedication ceremony in the shameful woman's home and that would be the end of it.  She'd be admonished by this chastisement to go and sin no more.  Till the next baby she had out of wedlock was born to be punished like this as well.  I recall one women who was kicked out of our church membership because she got pregnant with her boyfriend.  She had to confess her sin of whorishness in front of the church before Dad would let her come back.

Even then, I hated it.  I couldn't understand why, if Christ was all about forgiveness and grace, with abundant and incomprehensible, immeasurable mercy especially to those who don't deserve it, we had to punish the little babies who hadn't done anything, while also shaming the mothers.  Those babies didn't get a regular dedication in the church, and the moms didn't get to be encouraged and blessed by the other church members.  It seemed so anti-Christian to me.  We were always ready with our stones, trying to be the first to cast it at the fallen.

And if perfect repentance was the requirement for continued church membership, then none of us would qualify, right?  I seemed to put a lot of pressure on the potential church member to be sinless, and not really any focus on humbly walking with God, since He's the only one who can actually help.

'Course, now I don't think babies ought to be dedicated at all, but that they should be baptised into saving faith, but that's a different post.