“Jesus loves me this I know” … the words have been ringing around the Maher household for a couple of months now. We sing with our children all the time – but now our children like to sing for us as well. Jesus Loves Me is the favourite our our little two year old. Half a dozen to a full dozen times a day you can hear her break forth into her charming and enthusiastic version. At home, in the park, at the store, in the car – now time or place is off bounds. She can’t go to bed at night, until we have sung it together. She loves it so much I have even heard her sing it in her sleep. It moves me more than Bach’s Christmas Oratorio every time I hear it. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
So what? A dad boasting about his beloved daughter – what’s news in that? Nothing. But that’s not why I bring this up. I love my daughter so very much, but I will be the first to admit that she isn’t a little angel (mine or anyone else’s). She’s a high-spirited, outspoken, zest-filled force of nature much like her grandmother! Ever since day one, she has known what she likes and what she doesn’t and so does everyone around her. She can be stubborn and cranky. She can be willful and disobedient. In short, she can be just as much a little sinner as everyone else in this world.
But then we get to talking, or singing, or reading our daily Bible story and BAM! Her face lights up and she asks in that little voice of hers “Jesus?!” You can see the excitement building. Not only in her face but also through her whole body (she’s very expressive that way). Next thing you know the smile breaks forth and “Jesus loves me …” rings again up and down the length of the house. She knows Him to whom she belongs. She knows and she loves it!
It is the power of Holy Baptism at work before my marvelling eyes. She trusts in Jesus to love her. She loves that Jesus loves her. She is comforted by knowing she belongs to Jesus. It is nothing I have done for her. The excitement is all hers. The faith is hers. The worship is hers. Gifts from her Lord and Saviour, gifts returned in kind as only a little child can do it.
It is very easy for us grown ups to become clinical or pragmatic in our approach to issues of the faith, or the living out of our relationship with God. It is easy to dismiss the faith of those who are little, or those who are weak – or to undervalue them at least. But then I come home struggling with all my grown up spiritual issues … I come home exhausted and frustrated and feeling empty and joyless in my faith … I come home and face the music. I come home and hear the sweet words of the Gospel being sung from the glowing face of my little trouble-maker and I know that it’s time to grow up into a Baptismal faith more like hers. Jesus loves Me this I know, for my daughter so rightly and wonderfully reminds me.