Homily offered on the occasion of infant Baptism
Knox United Church, Sunday, September 27, 2015
This reflection takes its impetus from a resource entitled “In the Name of Love: A Baptism Resource for Congregations”, Toronto: United Church of Canada, 2006, pp. 57-57
Dear Baby, we are so thankful for your parents who brought you here today to be baptised!
Even though you are still a very young baby and even though we can’t begin to know what you will remember yourself from this special day, we do know this: Many of your family members and the other special people in your life gathered here today, will remember this experience for a very long time to come!
The same goes for your new church family here at Knox. We, too, are glad you found us. As this particular community of faith, we are eager to get to know you better and to support you as you grow, not only physically, but also, spiritually!
In fact, our new relationship really began a few weeks ago. This happened when your mom took the risk of calling to enquire about our baptism policy and practices here at Knox.
Following on from there, we had a chance to meet face to face when both your mom and dad brought you by for a visit and some conversation about the underpinnings of baptism. Of course, you won’t remember that first visit to my office over in the other building but they certainly will and so will I!
All of that background is what has brought us to this very moment when we are invited to consider just what all has happened here already this morning.
The sacrament of baptism-the special opportunity to give thanks to God for your life by being very intentional about inviting God’s presence.
At its heart, the sacrament of baptism as we understand it in the United Church of Canada is about the coming near of God in response to our very intentional practice of giving thanks to God for you.
Here this morning, each one of us here will have made note of different parts of the rituals related to baptism where we have felt God’ presence, and that is just as it should be.
As our ongoing story-telling and sharing happens there will be inevitably be some things held in common and some things noticed and experienced differently.
That, too, is just as it should be as we all experience God in different ways and we all come to the sharing of those experiences in different ways.
For example, some of us here might want to tell you about how they felt God come near as they heard some of the promises your mom and dad made on your behalf. Others of us here might have heard the blessing or the challenge in those promises and, that is just as it should be. Still others of us here might have been more taken with how the special music chosen helped us sense God’s Holy presence in our midst. Others of us will be sensing God’s presence touch us as we recall our own baptisms and the stories surrounding our own particular circumstances. And again, that is all as it should be.
Regardless of the similarities and the differences of how we each experienced God coming near to us in our prayers, our music, our stories from scripture about God creating Heaven and earth or the story of Jesus’ own baptism as an adult by his cousin John; the learning time; the pouring of water in the baptismal font, the blessing with water and oil, the candle lighting, the laying on of hands, and/ or the walkabout welcome time, I am confident of this:
Together we will weave a very meaningful tapestry of memories for you surrounding how you were and how we all were together on the occasion of your baptism.
I am confident, too, that this tapestry of experiences today will provide a solid foundation for your family to actively seek out meaningful ways to nurture and sustain your faith as you grow from infancy into childhood and so on throughout your life. I can hardly wait!
In the meantime, when the dust has settled after all the hubbub of today, your family might find other ways to be reminded of this special day.
For example, they might have your baptism certificate framed and displayed in a special place; they might have some family pictures to share of you in your great grandfather’s Christening gown. They might even choose to tuck your baptism candle away in its box and bring it out to be lit on your birthday or the first anniversary of your baptism. The purpose of all this will be to remind themselves, your family and our faith family here at Knox of this very important good news:
You, Baby, are a blessing from God! For all this and more we say: Thanks be to God. Amen!