The Baptismal Covenant:
“With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
When we baptize a child, we ask the parents to commit to raising the child in the church. If it is an adult we are baptizing, we ask them to commit to being part of the church as well. And, in both situations, we ask the congregation to join in the covenant above. Why, when we are baptizing someone, is it important to garner a commitment to be part of the church and a commitment from the church to aid in this person’s faith journey? Because God created us for relationship. God designed us to live in community. God put in each one of us a yearning to know each other and to experience love, grace and mercy through the other. Human beings are how we experience God much of the time. We are Christ for each other when we love, offer help, encourage, support, forgive, apologize, and provide respite.
The church is far from perfect because it is made up of imperfect people, but it is the place where a child should learn how to be Christ-like. Not because of the Sunday School lessons, though that is part of it, but through the interactions they encounter with those around them. I used to tell our Children’s Ministry leaders that we provide them with a lesson each week, but if they never got to the lesson, and only loved on and played with the children, then they had succeeded. Showing kids and adults that God loves them, by the way we love them, is what the church should be best at doing.
My children have benefited from this “steadfast love” that we commit to in baptism. Because I worked at the church, they both spent more time than the norm in our buildings. (I am thankful for a family-friendly work atmosphere provided to me.) And while I feared they would tire of being at the church so much, the opposite happened. They would ask to go to church on my days off!
It was not the building that drew them, however. It was the people. My kids were loved on, encouraged, disciplined, laughed at, taught, and supported by a village of church people. Even when they were not at their best, my kids were parented and mentored by adults in a loving way. Our staff teams, volunteers and members all played a part in raising my children in the faith. These bonus parents provided more than my husband and I could ever do on our own. My kids felt and still feel safe, loved, and at home in our church. They know they can be themselves in this space, and they are accepted just as they are. They understand that they are known and loved by the adults who have watched them grow up. Even now, as they are both adults, they hear encouraging words and gain genuine interest from the church members when they enter the building. It is really remarkable, and a witness to the church at its finest.
As a Mom, I am forever grateful for this body of Christ who ordered their lives after the example of Christ, that Parker and Grayson have been established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal. Way to go Church! Keep it up!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for providing me with people who have loved me and shaped me along the way. Thank you for the Holy Spirit you have provided as my guide. I am grateful that I am not alone in this world. Please show me the ways I need to order my life so that I may be a blessing and a guide to others. Open my heart to the Spirit’s leading and give me courage to follow. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.