So, this happened in church today… a baby was baptized. But there was so much happening during the baptism for those who have eyes to see.
You know how babies wear baptismal gowns that are family heirlooms? Baby was looking resplendent in a gown that was sewn from her great -grandmothers wedding dress slip from 72 years ago. All of great-grandma’s children plus their children have been baptized in this promise saturated garment. But today was the first time since its original use that the person wearing it had the same name as great-grandma — Beatrice. The congregation sighed when they heard this story. God is faithful it seemed to say.
At our congregation we say our purpose is: to make God visible, and Baptisms and Holy Communion meals are two of the best ways to view God at work. Beatrice (who was born Christmas Eve) was held by her daddy. It made a lot of sense to us why her slightly older brother and older sister were so huggy with their daddy when Pastor told us that their father had just returned this week from a five month military deployment. Those hugs made God’s love visible.
Beatrice’s family arrived early for worship which gave her sister time to find our drawing tables and draw a picture for the day. As a subject the six year old chose the most important symbol in the room sketching a very accurate depiction of our Celtic Cross – the type of cross that those early Christians placed wherever they found life… wherever the veil between this world and heaven was thin.
Beatrice, we learned, likes attention. If she fussed during some of baptismal conversation all pastor needed to do was lock eyes with hers and talk straight to her and she would grow quiet and smile. As pastor turned to address the congregation she would get louder again. After talking with the assembly one time, pastor turned to see her brother, Joey, on his own, break family formation and run back to their pew for one of Beatrice’s favorite toys to calm her – his thoughtfulness, a reflection of God’s compassion.
Mother, Amy, dipped a finger into oil and marked her daughter with a cross on her forehead – the tracing being the first of many as Beatrice will be marked before bed, and as the new day begins and whenever Beatrice needs to be reminded that she is beautiful with God’s beauty.
Father, Jeff, held things together, attending to Beatrice’s shoe coming off, holding her securely over the waters as she was splashed in faith and hope and love. He helped her siblings share the baptismal gifts of a towel and candle. Twenty years ago, he had built 200 wooden crosses for the congregation’s Lenten midweek worship as part of his Eagle Scout project. Those crosses can still be found today on shelves in nursing home rooms for as people have downsized, they have kept that cross. God has left a mark on many of us through those crosses.
Godparents promised to guide and meddle in Beatrice ‘s Christian nurture.
Our congregation made promises to learn her name and hold her in prayer on behalf of God’s church and at the end, the pastor announced this blessing:
Now may our God, who names us —
holy, precious, honored and worthy of love —
teach us to believe this truth about ourselves always . . .
no matter how
And worship was only just beginning.