As the first words of the hymn are sung, the cross bearer starts down the aisle, followed by two torch bearers, then the choir and finally the worship leaders. If we have an infant baptism, the family walks in between the choir and worship leaders.
A third of the way from the front, on the left side of the aisle, stands Mr. Dan, a kind man of medium statue, in his 90's. He and his wife always sit in that pew and he likes the aisle seat. During the processional, Mr. Dan makes a three-quarter turn in his seat so he can watch. With the smile of anticipation on his face each week, he reminds me of a child at a parade. Once I pass him by, he turns to the front and begins worship.
Occasionally the procession comes to a halt near the front as choir members ascend the steps to the chancel. This happened just this past Sunday when a family was in front of me, entering for their infant son's baptism. They stopped for a moment right beside Mr. Dan. The child was facing Mr. Dan and it seemed as if both their faces lit up with delightful recognition instantaneously.
The child kicked as Mr. Dan reached out tentatively to touch his booted foot. And then in a moment it was over. The processional continued. The family entered the front pew. As I passed by Mr. Dan, he had turned to say something to his wife. I supposed he was sharing his joy of his encounter.
It was just a small, easily unnoticed moment, yet I stepped up into the chancel a different man than when I began the processional in the narthex. Maybe it's stretching it to say I'd witnessed a holy moment of encounter, but the delight on Mr. Dan's face was imprinted in my mind. Perhaps it's just the sprinkling of grace on the family of God.