Sermon Archives

Sunday, August 8, 2021
The Feast of the Transfiguration (transferred)
The Reverend Andrew Van Culin, Rector
On Baptism

In the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For over a decade, Jessica and I have a running comment about parenthood – “if we had known kids were this fun, we would have started sooner!”  Admittedly, it sometimes gets changed to, “if we had known kids were this exhausting, we would have started sooner!” … but it began with a realization that we enjoy watching and being a part of our Sam and Catherine’s lives! 

Of course, as parents, we are far more than interested by-standers – we have had a critical role to play in their lives, shaped as they are by our aspirations and hopes we have for them.  From the moment Sam and Catherine each took their first breath we set ourselves to the wonderful task of proclaiming them beloved.  In all actuality, the task of revealing their belovedness – the fundamental fact that they are and always will be loved by another – began well before they were born, with Jessica’s remarkable care for herself as a pregnant mother and our tender (and at times frantic) preparation for their arrival!

It didn’t take long, however, for another great responsibility of parenthood to take hold – and it is in full thrust now as Sam and Catherine enter the adolescence – the support and shaping of their maturation, helping them both grow into their full stature as a young man and a young woman.  I’ll admit, I’m finding this to be a much more dauting task!  Who will they become?  What values will mark their lives and their relationships?  What principles will guide them and what aspirations will take hold of their heart?

I offer these reflections on parenthood because, I believe, they stand rightly at the center of our celebration today.  As we baptize Autumn and Madelyn, we are about two fundamental tasks.

First and foremost, we are about proclaiming God’s endless love for each of them.  In fact, the principal act of baptism is just that – the proclamation, the reminder if you will, that Autumn and Madelyn are and ever have been and ever will be beloved of God.  In some ways, the totality of the Gospel is the revelation of God’s love – through reception and teaching, through healing and care, through grace and uplift, throughout life – even beyond our death.

As the Waters of Baptism are gently poured over the heads of Autumn and Madelyn, we will proclaim not simply our love, but God – a task we pursue through the years to come.

But our responsibility doesn’t stop there – in fact, it’s just beginning.  We, along with Madelyn and Autumn’s parents and Godparents, are set another fundamental task:  to help them grow into the full stature of Christ.  We are tasked not only with proclaiming God’s love to them, but also to help them grow and mature …. toward the full stature of Christ.  That is, to help them grow as young women to resist evil in the world; to become young women who, when they have hurt another or fallen away from kindness and respect (for another or even for themselves) are willing to return again to the goodness of God; to grow to become women whose lives and relations are marked by dignity, justice, and peace for all people.

These are the responsibilities of Baptism.  They are ours as a community toward Autumn and Madelyn today and in the years to come.  They are also ours toward one another – we are responsible for proclaiming, through our words and actions, God’s love to one another; and we are equally responsible for helping nurture the image of Christ within each other – encouraging and supporting one another in our individual growth and maturation into the full stature of Christ that is unique to each of us. 

Baptism is a singular and finite event, yes; but it is also just the beginning. 

So let us take up our task and proclaim – robustly and passionately – God’s love for Autumn and Madelyn; and let us continue to work with and for one another as we make our way toward the full stature of Christ who stands ever before us.