Saturday, July 19, 2008
A Baptismal Letter to
July 20, 2008
You came into our lives at St. Luke’s about the same time I came here as pastor, so I find a real bond with you, my little sister. And on this day of your Baptism I wanted to write you a letter that hopefully your parents will keep for you until the time you can read it for yourself.
I want to welcome you to the household of God. This day of your baptism has been long-awaited for your family, not just your brother, Isaac, your Mom and Dad and your grandparents--but also this loving family of St. Luke’s. You have been a sign of new life for us since you first came among us.
Baptism is the beginning of your life in Christ. It is when all are adopted by God as St. Paul reminds us in today’s epistle. This water I will put on your head signals for all time that you are a child of God and a sister to each and every one of us in the Church. It means that you can call upon God as ‘Daddy’ just as Jesus did and depend upon God for all your needs in your life. This baptism means that you are saved by the gift of God’s grace, that the kingdom of heaven will be your promised land. It means that even though you will sin, you have already been washed in Christ’s blood for all time. The promise of salvation is yours. And that is the beginning of your life as a Christian.
The sacrament—this sign of your belonging will be a source of strength for you all your life. It is a reminder that your parents have brought you to receive this welcome into the faith but also have introduced to you a friend, Jesus, who will be with you all your life. He will teach you how to live in this world. By reading about him in the Bible you will learn what his values are so that you can pattern your life after his. He will help you grow in love for your fellow human beings because he gave his life so that we all might know how to love one another and to triumph over the selfishness of sin.
The white garment that you will be given and the light of Christ you will hold are yours whenever you chose to call upon them. Your covering by water will symbolize that you have chosen to be dead to sin—that you have chosen life and life that may be lived abundantly.
Today you will receive Holy Communion too—that sacrament of love that Christ conferred upon us the night before he died. This sacrament will sustain you when you are hungry for companionship, when you are alone, when you are tempted by sin, when all else seems foreign. It will nourish your faith and fill you with his special love just for you. But he will also teach you to love others and embrace them as family just as Christ has embraced you. This communion with God and with humanity reminds us that we are one with all people in the world and that we are called to care for those who are near as well as those who are far away.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable that reminds that we will be raised with those who do not live as we do. There will be many in your lives that do not follow the way of Jesus. There will be people who are not Lutheran; there will be those who are not Christian but worship in other faiths. There will be those who do not have faith at all. It is not for us to judge them. God will sort that out when the time comes. As a child of God your mission is to live your life as though Jesus was walking with you each moment. It is our work as the good seed of God the sower to grow with integrity, in service of the truth that God teaches us.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t endure problems and even pain. That is a part of life, and we cannot avoid that. But it does mean that you never have to endure that time alone—for Jesus is there. And your community of faith, the Church will be there too.
Faith means that your relationship with Christ will grow. Christ will call you to change over you lifetime and expand your knowledge of what is right and wrong. It will never remain the same, but it will always be rooted in what has happened to you today. It will be rooted in the love that your family has for you but most of all it will be rooted in the love God has for you.
Christine, my hope for you is that you will read this letter as you prepare for your Confirmation so that you will know that your parents and your Church community have started you on the right way—the way of Jesus. The Way of Jesus is a way of living that you will make your own at Confirmation. Welcome to the family of God. You are loved here.
Faithfully in Christ,