Have you thought about the promises we make when we baptize a child? As parents, we promise to
–live with them among God’s faithful people;
–bring them to the word of God and the holy supper;
–teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments;
–place in their hands the Holy Scriptures;
–and nurture them in faith and prayer.
About three breaths later, the congregation promises to support the newly baptized and pray for them in their new life in Christ.
The first time I made this promise as a parent was nearly 26 years ago, and I barely remember it. We were stationed at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter, S.C. It was Palm Sunday and my son Phil was baptized by a Lutheran chaplain after services. I remember what I wore that day; I remember who joined us as Phil’s sponsors and godparents.
But I don’t remember the promises I made. We didn’t go to church on base or in town then.
We moved to Iowa and then to Michigan. In all those moves, I found that the quickest way to connect with a community was to find a church. I was unwittingly fulfilling the promises I made at Phil’s baptism. I found community at the churches we attended and took Phil to Sunday school, helped with Vacation Bible School, made friends, served God and found a home away from home with the people of my church family.
[bctt tweet=”We are called to be the body of Christ, together.”]
And along came Nate. He was baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2000. We made the same promises at his baptism.
The question is not asked only of our pastors or our youth ministers. It is being asked of us, the parents and congregation. How are we fulfilling our promises? Are we supporting our families and praying for them?
We are called to be the body of Christ, together. That means worship, faith formation, discipleship, service and fellowship.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those promises lately and the welcoming words we say at baptism: “We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.”
Let us not make empty promises.
Kathy Weinberg is administrative assistant at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Livonia, Mich.
Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Information. Parish Union/Katri Saarela