A tiny coffin with a three-month old little boy inside.
I heard the grieving of a mother who barely lived a trimester with her son outside her womb.
I touched a smooth, cold, small forehead and marked it with the cross of Christ.
I tasted the mucus that came with the tears I tried not to shed as I prayed and preached.
I felt a sharp, damp breeze as I walked behind the casket- carried by the mother of the baby, his grandfather, grandmother, and great-grandfather.
I offered no words of welcome in introducing myself. A funeral for a three-month old is not a celebration of life. It is a cacophony in the attempt of death to win a battle in a war it already lost.
Child, family, friends, all gathered were all unknown to me, but not to God.
I lit a baptismal candle and said, with a steady voice, "Baptism is never about us or what we do. It is about, all about, God's grace and love. In life, T--- was baptized by kisses and in death, he has been baptized by tears. From the beginning, though, and through forever, he has been cradled in God's hands."
I need this to be true.
I believe it is true.
Believing doesn't always answer need. Need does not always create belief.
I've heard cynics all my life who discuss religion as a panacea to help people who are afraid of death.
The hope of reunion with one whose life was far too short is not a denial of death. The trust in resurrection today didn't mean not acknowledging the real horribleness of what was real and tangible in a small, white box in that room.
Speaking for God today, being the representative for faith, daring to step forward for the church of Christ and by his authority, wasn't about false comfort, but about underscoring the reality that God's love is greater.
Greater than the forces that oppose it. Greater than the brokenness of the world. Greater than whatever tragedies converge that result in the death of a life only just begun.
In the light of a sputtering, melting baptismal candle, there is no such thing as false comfort. Such a thing is quickly exposed for what it is. It cannot stand the heat of such painful tempering.
"Baptism is never about us or what we do. It is about, all about, God's grace and love. In life, T--- was baptized by kisses and in death, he has been baptized by tears. From the beginning, though, and through forever, he has been cradled in God's hands."
God is Love. Only Love.