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“Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide an nurture this child by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of his church?” from the liturgy for baptism, The Book of Common Worship.
With youth group starting up again this fall, and our families coming back from vacation, I have been reflecting on this question. Each time a child is baptized, this question is posed to us. And when we answer, we answer not just for this congregation, but for the church of Jesus Christ. This means that any baptized child/youth who is part of our faith community – whether or not we baptized them- is to receive the fruit of this sacramental promise we make.
How do we fulfill this promise? Certainly by educating, in Sunday School, VBS, and other forums for our younger disciples. But the question goes further – we promise to guide and nurture this child by word and deed, love and prayer. How do our interactions and example guide our younger disciples? Do we include them in conversations at fellowship? Do we sit by them intentionally in worship? Do we make an effort to learn their names and befriend them as we do our adult friends? How do we love them? Or perhaps a better way to think of this is how do we share the love of Jesus with them? These are ongoing questions/challenges for me.
I invite you to join me in reflecting on our living out of our baptismal promises, praying that we will be faithful in carrying out this sacrament.
Serving Christ with you,
Often on Sunday mornings as I am driving to church there are a number of hot air balloons flying over our community. I must admit, I never grow tired of seeing them. Their colors brighten the start of my day. Their gentle movement across the sky, or their slow ascent and descent, remind me that not all that is good happens at a breakneck pace. But, mostly, I like them because when I see them I feel happy.
And the happiness grows when Kathy Hallquist and I share our joy in seeing them as we arrive at church together. The only thing better than happiness, is happiness shared.
Sharing happiness…sharing joys. I must admit, I am a glutton for the good news of others. Your grandchild receive an award? Tell me about it! You got an A on a test! I want to know! See a beautiful sunrise? Share that photo! (That might be because I am seldom up and around for sunrises, but nevertheless am grateful for someone who is up to bask in them and share!) Had a great reunion with friends or family? Share your stories with me!
It’s not that I don’t have my own celebratory stories – most evenings I love trying to decide whether to look east or west as the sun sets, and as you all know I have a grandchild I am always ready to talk about or share a photo. It’s more that when someone shares their joy it is infectious. Their eyes light up and their face gets all animated and their voice exudes that deep joy. And it rubs off — in celebrating with someone, not only is happiness shared, but so is love. And in that love is the presence of Christ.
What are your good news stories? Share them, pass around the pictures. Share the love and joy of this life for in that we see how Christ is present. And that is something to celebrate!
Serving Christ with you,
One of the new words I have learned lately is kindom. It was used at General Assembly to describe what God envisions for us here on earth – a family where all are kin. I like it, not as a substitute for kingdom or reign of God, but rather as an expansion of those. For me, kindom is attainable, for every time I encounter someone I have the opportunity to see them as part of God’s family – my family.
As I write this we are just starting our Vacation Bible School. Over 60 children are here, each one a member of God’s family just as I am. By welcoming them, loving them, and engaging with them to make connections this week, we become the Kindom of God in this place. It really is an amazing thing to watch, as children grow more comfortable and begin to engage with the volunteers and each other. They begin to feel at home here, which is exactly what God wants, I am sure.
Kindom happens a lot here at RRPC. Every day at Share Your Care they are building community and they invite us in, to connect with them, both staff and participants. When AA or Al-Anon gathers, they are certainly making kindom connections — life saving relationships.
Every Sunday we are given the opportunity to be an expression of God’s family, not just with each other, but with any and all who come through our doors. It is a joy to watch that happen each week- it is holy ground when we open ourselves to another child of God – it is a kindom moment!
Building God’s Kindom with you,