In Touch – April 13, 2012
Posted on April 13, 2012 by under Touché,

Baptism/Dedication and Everything In Between

“For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:39)

On Sunday, at the Gatherings service, we will dedicate Hannah Katlyn Reynolds. The elders have approved this request and it is exciting as a congregation to celebrate the birth of Hannah and all that has been a part of our journey with Stephanie and Mike. It was seven years ago during the Forty Days of Purpose that Mike confessed his faith in Christ. It was that November he was baptized in the Fishkill Creek. The birth of Hannah is a miracle and Stephanie will share some of that story on Sunday.

To do a dedication is new at Hopewell. Dedication is a practice that is usually done in a “believer’s baptism” church. We are a church that baptizes infants based on our covenant theology that sees children of the covenant as members of the church through the promises that God gives to his people. Dedication is a prayer of blessing for a child and a willingness on the part of parents to raise that child in the faith and, in our case, a commitment of the congregation to participate in the spiritual nurture of that child. It is a practice and not a sacrament, but make no mistake about it; Hannah is part of the covenant family at Hopewell. Mike and Stephanie requested dedication because of their desire to see Hannah baptized as she confesses her faith at the point in life when she is ready.

We are doing this dedication because it reflects our vision as a church to be a place of “radical welcome.” We have people who have had many different experiences in their journey of faith and come from many different backgrounds. We celebrate this and acknowledge: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

In fact, I have said to the elders, God must be having some fun with us because we have had more baptismal issues in the last month than I have had before in twenty-five years of ministry.

Here is my list as I am counting:

  • two other dedication requests (one for a dedication off-site at a first birthday party)
  • six baptismal requests for kids who were dedicated, or not, but now are at various ages from three to fourteen
  • questions from parents about whether children who have not been baptized are welcomed at the Lord’s Table.
  • one repeat baptism request for someone who has gone through significant conversion and baptized as an infant.
  • a call from someone in California to ask if I would baptize a sister’s child when she is in town for the weekend.
  • a grandparent that would like the children of a parent who grew up at HRC, but now lives far away, to be baptized on Mother’s Day.
  • a couple who no longer attend a church who are seeking baptism of their child.

It is beautiful what God is doing at Hopewell, all whom our God is calling to himself in so many ways. This Sunday we will all reflect on the meaning and nature of the covenant and conversion and, most of all, celebrate those whom God is calling into relationship with him. I hope I have whetted your appetite to be here on the Sunday after Easter (traditionally they call this “Low Sunday”). If this wasn’t enough Thula Sizwe is scheduled to arrive before the end of the Foundations service to do a song or two as a foretaste of their concert at 6:30. What an awesome day!

 

In Christ,

 

Taylor