Today is a special day for our church. Not only do we have the opportunity to celebrate Baptism Sunday, but we have a baptism at our first service! In this day and age of declining church attendance, celebrating a baptism in worship has become all too rare of an experience. But one of the great joys we have here at First Congo is the number of children (and adults!) we baptize annually. Every month we have a number of families that bring their children to offer up their promises as we offer ours, affirming the mighty gift of God’s grace through this biblical ritual. We are blessed, and those we baptize, are a blessing upon us. As a pastor, holding a child and reciting the same words used by John the Baptist to affirm God’s love for his own child, Jesus, is a very precious and powerful privilege.
Perhaps my favorite part of the experience (yes, pastors do have favorites!) is when I get to walk the child through the congregation. You may notice that as I do this, I am speaking quietly to the child. I say something very similar to each child as we take our stroll through the churches beaming faces:
Today we celebrate you, we celebrate God’s love for you, we celebrate the person you are and the person you are becoming. As you look out upon all these faces know that these are the faces of your faith family. We are your church home and our bond to you runs deeper than blood. Our bond to you is our commitment to Christ and God’s love for all of creation. Our commitment to you is to walk alongside you like parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great grandparents, praying that you will become the fullest, most joyful and loving person possible. Our prayer is that we love you into being, the way God has loved us into being. You will not remember what I am saying today but that does not matter, for God chose us all before there was even time itself; God chose us to be God’s children. As your pastor I pray that we can shepherd you, and that in turn, you would shepherd us into being ever more faithful disciples. Together, we are the body of Christ.
I say these things because it is my belief that God has been whispering in our ear before we could listen, and even when we struggle to hear now. I say these things because God’s love simply is – and it has always been. My prayer is that we celebrate and keep our promises to one another and hold fast no matter what times lay ahead for us and our church, to our mission of being The Church of the Open Door, because we serve a very special and privileged role in our community and the life of the Fox Valley.
By the way…God is also whispering these things to you. Can you remember all the loving and wise things God has gently spoken to you? Are you listening?
Grace and Peace,