Family has a lot to do with the traditions of Baptism. Sure, it is first and foremost an initiation into the church, a body of believers, grounded in God, celebrating faith in Christ, and open to the Spirit. But how and when Baptism is done has a lot to do with family.
Great Grandpa Dave was raised in a long line of Methodists, going all the way back to England. Grandpa Steve carried on this tradition in his family. So, naturally, I was baptized into the United Methodist church, but not until I was old enough to chose for myself. Why a believer’s baptism?
Great Great Grandma Irene believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit alone. She shared her belief with Grandma Debbie, who chose to let her children make up their own minds about baptism when they were old enough to decide. So I did, in eighth grade when I was in confirmation class at Sunrise United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs. I chose to be initiated into faith. I wore a beautiful home made teal taffeta dress with puffed sleeves. Ed Beck and Brenda Lear administered the sacrament and God filled my life in a deep and tangible way.
So, you ask, how do you come to baptize baby Zac? Family traditions blend one side and another. Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Poetter are and have been life long Lutherans. In their tradition, babies are baptized early-as soon as possible. So, Grandma Janet was baptized as a baby into the Lutheran church and confirmed at the appropriate age. She and Grandpa Jack continued the tradition and Erik, papa of Zac, was baptized as an infant in a beautiful cotton baptismal gown.
Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Hyatt Hagan were also Methodist. Naturally, Grandpa Jack was raised a Methodist and is fully supportive of Zac becoming one too. All these family traditions, these lines of connection to God lead us to a specific moment, method, and means of grace. Uncle Andy will be here too. He was baptized (Lutheran, like Erik) into this same line of faith. He is godparent to Zac, along with Uncle Jason and Uncle Nelson.
Today Zacariah Hyatt Hagan will be initiated into the Christian faith, with all these witnesses before him. He will be wearing the gown Erik wore during his baptism, thirty four years ago in the Lutheran church of his family. Zac will be baptized by Grandpa Steve, a United Methodist pastor in a United Methodist fashion. All this action will take place in the church and community God has called me to serve, First United Methodist Church of Berthoud.
I’m overflowing with love for God, for Zac, and for our families who weave together the best traditions, faith, and a long line of discipleship.
Holy and Loving God, Thank you for this day in which family brings together Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. Bless our little Zachariah and help us to raise him in a Christian home. Thank you for preserving us like the baptismal gown. We are so blessed to be part of this long line of witnesses. Bless the community of Berthoud that it may continue to be a place of faith for many generations to come. Help us to be grounded in God, celebrate Christ and open to the Spirit. We say yes on Zac’s behalf to you working in his life. May he grow in wisdom and stature into a great person of faith! Amen.