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Friday, May 6, 2016
Today’s Reading | Mark 10:13–16
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (NRSV)
My favorite worship service each month is the celebration of the sacrament of infant baptism. It is a joyous and festive occasion: young parents present their children at the baptismal font. They’re joined by several generations of family and many friends. The parents give answer to the liturgical questions, and then, one by one, the children are blessed.
When all of the children have been baptized, the pastor takes one of them into his or her arms (just as Jesus did) and walks among the congregation, introducing our newest member.
However, this does not conclude the celebration. In keeping with our Presbyterian tradition, an elder addresses the congregation and asks, “Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture these children, by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ, and to be faithful members of his church?”
During one such baptism service, while addressing the congregation, the pastor used the analogy that an infant’s mind is like a blank page, waiting to be inscribed with knowledge, understanding, and love. With the vows professed by the parents and the commitment spoken by the members, individually and collectively we all undertake the directive proclaimed by Jesus in today’s scripture reading. Thus it is incumbent upon all of us to teach the children and to inscribe upon the blank pages of their minds the words of scripture, the meanings of goodness and truth, and an understanding of the power of God’s grace and love. What a privilege! What a challenge! And by teaching the children, as adults we also will become stronger in our own faith and understanding.
Gracious God, help me to be faithful to my commitment to teach our children to know and love you. Amen.
Written by Barlow Nelson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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