There are times in worship that have marked me. A child who answers perfectly during a children's sermon. The woman who always listens so intently when I preach. The first time someone called me "Pastor."
This morning Connor (not his real name) -- a three-year old who has Downs Syndrome -- marked me. He doesn't speak, but it's clear that he communicates relatively well with his parents. I don't know him that well -- in the just-over-a-year that I've been with these folks, this is a family that has flown under the radar for the most part. Only recently have I noticed them.
Worship was long this morning -- a number of "extra" things and what felt like a particularly long sermon by my Dear Colleague. I was tired by the time that Communion came around, and feeling a bit unsteady on my feet. When I bless the younguns who don't receive the bread and wine, I squat down so that I'm eye level with them instead of looking down on them. I usually say a relatively long blessing as I make the sign of the cross on their forehead -- "May the Lord bless you and keep you, watch over you and guide you all the days of your life." I know that I could just say "God loves you" and it would mean the same thing, but this has always sounded right to me.
When Connor's family came up to the rail, I gave his mom her portion and then squatted down to bless Connor.
This beautiful child, his hands folded so properly, looked into my eyes without hesitation or reservation. He looked solemnly at me until about part-way through my little spiel when his face broke into the biggest and most genuine smile I have seen in a really long time. I felt like he was saying, "And you, too, Pastor -- May the Lord bless you, too."
Thank you, dear child, for your blessing.