Thursday, May 07, 2009

Grateful for the Grace

I had the wonderful pleasure of being witness to a baby's baptism last evening. Beautiful baby boy, beaming parents, godparents, grandparents all making promises to God on behalf of this amazing first child and grandchild. My mind raced backwards and forwards to my own children's baptisms - did I have any idea then what I was promising? Did I have any idea of the journey my children would take me on? Did I have any idea of the journey that God would take me on through the lives of my children, through the stormy life of my first marriage, through the joy and love of my marriage now? I think the answers are no, I did not. Grace, what bountiful grace God gives to young parents to take their promises, their innocent promises, and hold them in His hands as though the parents were indeed wise and trustworthy.

Don't get me wrong - they are solemn, and wise as young persons can be, and they are trustworthy at the moment but when the years go by and life gets complicated and the promises seem less fresh and in the forefront, and the teenager is not so sweet any more, and the baptism is a long ago memory, it's harder to remember that God's grace is still there....waiting, waiting, willing to help in every situation, willing to be a guide, a crutch, a stronghold.

I think that I actually have a vision of my personal baptism as a young child. I don't think I was an infant, maybe a toddler. This vision has me being held on the arm of probably my father, looking out at a congregation in wonder. It's a vision that has come to me more than once in my life, so I'm beginning to believe it might actually be true. Anyway, my parents were very young, capable, in love and confident their child was the most special ever born. They made their baptismal promises on my behalf, perhaps not in the same words that I heard last night, but on behalf of me their first born and believed sincerely that they would uphold those promises throughout their lives. In a way I believe they did.

The vows they fulfilled were enough of a way to carry me through many trials and much happiness in living my life in partnership with God. Every moment? Seems unlikely that I could have sustained such an existence 100% of my life. But God did take my parents seriously, and He has taken me seriously and I have taken God seriously "most" of my life. Reflecting as I do on the times when I put God in the backseat rather than the driver's seat, I'm quite sure He was and is glad to have/had a "heavenly seatbelt" on and I'm grateful for the grace. The grace of my baptismal vows, the grace of my life as an adult, the grace to continue my life remembering the solemn vows of baptism and dedication as a child of God.

Baptism - infant, toddler, adult? Yes, no? Do you remember, not remember? Maybe never, maybe sometime in the future? Ever have a chance to review the baptism vows of your tradition - no tradition? Well, I recommend it.

Yes, I had the wonderful privilege of being witness to a baby's baptism last evening.


  1. witnessing anything with that kind of commitment and, yes, grace is a powerful thing.

    i remember baptism at about the age of 12. was it a "re-do" or perhaps my parents were not as diligent with their third child as they were with their first?

  2. Hi Lucy,

    Can't wait for some good old face-to-face conversation at the end of this month!!

    Age 12 - I bet it wasn't a re-do, more likely that parents weren't as diligent with their third child. Perhaps not as "scared" with the third child to do everything exactly as their lives had been done when younger. That's only a guess......


  3. I expect I was baptized as an infant. I have no recollection of it, but perhaps you might recall the event. I know I was baptized as a teenager. It would have been a year or two after Lucy's baptism at age 12. I asked a Methodist minister to conduct the sacrament during a small Sunday evening service that was probably attended only by a few of my peers. The "second" baptism was not in keeping with the normal tradition of the Methodist Church, but it was important to me to participate in the sacrament based on my choice and commitment.

    The choice that parents make to baptize an infant might be a social choice or a spiritual choice, just as many weddings in churches are social events rather than holy events.

    What a blessing to witness a baby's baptism. It sounds like you, the child, and the parents chose to take the vows of baptism seriously. I expect it was the kind holy moment that weaves God's strong thread into the tapestry of our lives.

    Like you, I recommend choosing to participate in holy events such as a baptism. Choose to participate in those events that are holy because of God's grace, and our choice to accept it.

  4. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Beautiful thoughts! I most remember our children's baptisms - three years in a row. And every time I get to witness another baptism I rejoice in the words "you are marked as Christ's own forever." JG

  5. Hi Geezer -

    Thanks for your witness to the power of baptism and sacred events being taken as that - sacred. Traditions aside, I think re-do events are often powerful glue to hold us together through another, unknown segment of our lives.

    JG - Congratulations - a comment in the comment box, I am so grateful to see it here and agree that "being marked as Christ's own forever" is a very powerful statement. Thanks for reading and for the comment. Next up - we'll get YOU to start a blog:)

  6. I was baptised as a baby - I'm sure you know that teaching in the Catholic church that if a child dies unbaptised its soul will go to limbo rather than to heaven. (A teaching very recently reversed by the current Pope.)

    So it was imperative to get babies baptised as quickly as possible.

    Now logically, the concept of adult baptism makes more sense to me - informed choice. But I'm glad I was baptised as a baby, it's something that has simply always been there in the background of my life, even when for many years I was not a practising Christian.

    Incidentally, slight change of subject, but bearing in mind your recent discussions on movies, I think one of the most powerful scenes in film ever was the ending of The Godfather, as Michael Corleone stands Godfather for his baby nephew, verbally renouncing evil, while elsewhere the brutal murders he's ordered take place.