I had the joy and privilege of baptizing our first grandchild. The instant I took him in my arms to join him to his Lord and Savior’s death and resurrection, I was suddenly overcome by a great truth: Welcoming the newly baptized as stranger is very untidy. They come with strings attached. They are ours, they belong to us and to our congregation, and they change our church life forever. We don’t get to vote on who does or does not get to be baptized. These particular strangers are thrust upon us, rather like the Christmas gift that you have to keep because grandma will want to see you using it.
Who is more stranger among us than a baby? We have no idea how that infant will turn out. Welcoming the newly baptized older child or adult is equally daunting. How do we help this stranger become an un-stranger? Fear not! Jesus has the answer. Everyone is family. Jesus told us that when we treat anyone with love and care, we are doing it to him. Go forth and welcome. Become better acquainted. Extend hospitality to all.
This message was adapted from “Holy Hospitality” written by Marguerite M. Rourk that first appeared in the April 2010 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.