Posting for NaBloPoMo while off the grid…
While preparing to baptize sweet little Reed, I got to thinking about what I would tell him if it were just the two of us chatting about what that whole splashing and wandering around the church ritual meant.
Dear Little Brother,
I know, it sounds weird, since you are the first in your family and your mom and dad are hoping you’ll be the big brother to at least one more kiddo. And I’m not your sister or even an auntie. I’m the pastor of the church where your mama was baptized. And her daddy. And a lot of the folks who are also family tree sorts of relatives were baptized or are now members. But I’m not part of that tree.
But because you have been baptized into the family of God, we are brother and sister in Christ. And all those other people who met you on Sunday? They are your brothers and sisters. And here’s the weird thing – so is your mom. Because when her mom and dad brought her to church and let the pastor splash water and say the words I said to you, they made the same promises to help her grow up to know Jesus and place her faith in the God who loved her from the very beginning and loves the world to pieces.
Some of the people in the church that day were there for your baptism. They remembered promising to help your grandparents as they raised your mom. They remembered the people who made similar promises for their children and even for them. And they promised to be with your mom and dad as they figure out how to be good parents who love God, love you and love their neighbors.
See, that’s what family does. At least when it’s at its best. Family sticks together and loves each other, but not exclusively. They love each other so much that there is plenty of extra love for the new folks that find their way into the family – like little babies, and partners, and roommates and friends. And even enough to invite folks we don’t know yet to come and see what it means to be part of something that is built on trust, faith, hope and love.
When we’re at our best. But Reed, here’s the bad news. We won’t always be at our best. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes we’ll get it wrong. We’ll get hurt and lash out. We’ll get frightened and pull away. We’ll get a little too worked up about the small stuff. Because we are humans. And humans are complicated and messy creatures – even after we don’t use diapers any more.
I want you to know that we’ll do our best, but it won’t be anywhere near perfect. That’s why we need you. We need your sticky fingers to remind us that our furniture isn’t nearly as important as the people who sit in it. We need your giggles and wiggles to remind us that a childlike faith is filled with joy and is always moving and growing.
We need your questions. Because they will remind us that we don’t have all the answers. We need you to ask “Why?” so that we have to go back to the stories and the Word for the real reasons for doing what we do.
That sounds like we are already expecting a lot out of you, so let me put it this way…
We need you to be your beautiful, vulnerable, amazing tiny self, and we need to see you growing up so we can remember what we look like to the God who loves us deeply and watches us every step of the way.
Your big sis.
God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion. ~ Desmond Tutu