It was a joy to participate in my grandson’s baptism this past Sunday. I remembered the joy that I felt more than thirty years ago when I baptized my daughters. Now, I participated and watched my daughter baptize her son.
I don’t know how many baptisms I have done in thirty-five years of ministry. It is the entrance into the church of Jesus. Parents, in our tradition, must be members of the congregation in order to have their children baptized. They make promises to God that they will participate in church activities and bring their baptized children also. All too often I have seen parents and children disappear after baptism, never to be seen again. Their promises to God, to the congregation, and to their children become dishonored. Do I dare to say that they are lying to God when they make such promises and do not keep them?
Ministerial colleagues tell me that I take the disappearance of such families too personally. They tell me that every congregation faces these same issues. Yet, I can’t help but take these broken promises personally. When parents assure me that they will be there, and don’t, it seems a bit personal to me.
I don’t know, in twenty years, if my grandson will be part of the church or not. I rejoiced that he was baptized and will do everything I can to mentor him in the faith. Yet, I don’t know what his Christian future will be. Some things I can’t control. I will pray that he will, indeed, become a disciple of Jesus. While I am praying for him I will be praying for the families whose children I have baptized and who then disappeared. I will continue to pray that they will see baptism as an entrance, not an exit, and keep the vows that they made to God.
May God make disciples of him and those I have baptized in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: