On the eve of your baptism.
Dear Roar, on Saturday we will be baptizing you, naming the claim that God has on you, the promise that the Spirit washes over you, and the grace that Jesus comforts you with. We will gather with people who love you, who want the best for you, who will be celebrating you as the beautiful child of God that you are.
We will be baptizing you at the church your father is currently appointed to, Shiloh, the place in scripture where the Ark of the Covenant resided in the Tabernacle for the last time before moving to the temple of Jerusalem. And in that, we are claiming both a permanence and a transition. In the action of baptism, we are naming that you are a member of the church universal, a valuable, chosen, intricate member of the body of Christ. We also know that this will not be the only church you will ever worship at. You have already moved from one congregation to another, and the promise is that there will be people who don’t know it yet, but they are making a promise to guide and support you in your faith and life as you grow into an adult.
We don’t do it as much for baptisms, but when your father and I celebrate Eucharist, we state that this table is extended beyond the confines of the present gathering, beyond the limits of the United Methodist Church. We say that the table is Christ’s and all are invited to taste and see that the Lord is good. The promise we will be claiming is in the gathered body of worshippers, not necessarily this appointed congregation, but the congregation that this gathering will represent. Not of the United Methodist Church, that’s not the first thing we claim, but of the church universal.
We will make this promise now, so that you will be equipped to make this promise when you are older, when you claim the promise of God for your own, either gradually, or instantly, or a mix of both.
We don’t know what the future will bring. We hope the church will look different when you are an adult, we hope that you are one of the ones who will shape the church as you grow into the footprints of your faith.
As you learn to take your first steps this month, we pray that you will continue to deepen in your understanding of our love for you, and soon, by extension, the way that God loves you, irrevocably.