"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body..." - Psalm 139:13-16a
This year on All Saints' Day we hung up a picture of our son, Simon. There in the sanctuary, on a clothesline full of the names and pictures of other saints.
The picture usually lives in a dark wooden box beside our bed. This was the first time we let anyone but family see it.
Simon was born early. 21 weeks. We only got to enjoy him for three-quarters of an hour.
The truth is, the pictures we have of him can be hard to look at. Most of us aren't used to seeing babies in their second trimesters, not yet fully woven together.
So we keep them hidden, held in a secret and sacred place. Like his body, they feel too tender to expose to the outside world
But then there's church.
What a gift to be part of a community who believes my son was fearfully and wonderfully made. What a gift to share him with a body that can see the beauty of his unformed body. What a gift to worship a God from whom he has never been hidden.
Creator of my inmost being, your works are wonderful. I know that full well. Thank you for the gift of a people with whom to share my hidden grief and joy.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.