Sunday after All Saints’
November 7, 2010
A letter for those about to be baptized (and for those renewing their own baptismal covenant).
Dear Mason, Alejandro, and Amelia,
This day we do something very strange. We take you three, beautiful children, and we drown you in the waters of baptism and bury you in the death of Christ. We do this so that you may no longer belong to yourselves, or even to your parents. We baptize you so that all may remember that no matter what happens to you over the course of your life, you are blessed, and you belong to God.
On this day of your baptism, as your parents and godparents make promises on your behalf, we make one all encompassing promise to you. We promise to support you; we promise to help you remember that no matter what happens, you belong to God, to help you remember that you are blessed.
People are haunted and lost, but in our baptism, we are claimed as Christ’s own. We may feel that we have fallen out of belonging over the course of our lives, but when we renew the covenant, we remember that we are marked as Christ’s own forever and that he calls us to proclaim that good news to all whom we encounter.
The Wisdom of God who dwells within us is so often quiet and subtle, especially amidst the clamor of the world and of our own selfish desires. But we promise to remind you that she is there and to help you listen to her, that she may nurture and embrace, teach and guide you on the way and even overflow from your own heart to anoint others in the light of belonging.
We will help you remember that you belong to the communion of saints, which means that all those who have gone before us in the faith and who continue to grow in the love and service to God in eternity are also bound to us in faith and support us in prayer. Those whose lives of faith have shaped and influenced you in the past continue to be active in our present and future and we are held in their faith and in their prayers when we most need it. They have illumined for us the path of belonging, what it means to be God’s people. For we all belong to God.
We promise that when you suffer, for unfortunately ,you sweet, innocent dear ones, you will suffer, we promise to help you find meaning and hope in your suffering even as we remind you that in Christ’s wounded body, we are bound in solidarity with all who suffer and we are called to do all in our power to prevent suffering and injustice in the future.
We promise that when you are most poor, we will help you find the treasure of the Kingdom of God which is already yours. When you are hungry, we will feed you and remind you that you dwell in the fullness that is God. When you are weeping, we will weep with you, and we will hold onto one another in the promise of God’s laughter. When you are hated or excluded, reviled or defamed because you belong to God, we will stand with you in that, and hold and uphold you in the peace of that belonging.
We promise to help you remember the hope to which you are called, to hold you to the standards of compassion and reconciliation and selflessness into which you are baptized this day, and we ask that you do the same for us.
We promise to help you remember the truth of your baptism, the truth of the resurrection: that God’s love is stronger than anything…even death; and that for those who belong to God, death is nothing to fear but is yet another passage on the way to deeper belonging to God.
And we promise to walk that way with you as your brothers and sisters, as your friends and companions, in this life and in the next.
Your sister in Christ, Melanie