As you bring your children to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities:
- to live with them among God’s faithful people,
- bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
- teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
- place in their hands the holy scriptures,
- and nurture them in faith and prayer,
- so that your children may learn to trust God,
- proclaim Christ through word and deed,
- care for others and the world God made,
- and work for justice and peace.
I don’t always make the right choices; in fact, often I’m pretty sure I often choose exactly the opposite of what I’m supposed to be doing. And, these last six months have been no different. We were so tired of hearing from our children (they’re 9, 12, and 15) that church was boring, that it wasn’t any fun, that they didn’t connect with anyone, that it was the last place they wanted to be…so, we decided not to push the issue. If they wanted to come, they could. If they didn’t want to, we didn’t force them. And for awhile, it felt like the right decision. Our mornings were much easier; our evenings a bit freer, their attitudes a bit more compliant. But, then while baptizing a baby recently, and while asking her parents if they promised to raise her in the ways of Jesus, I realized I was doing exactly the opposite of what I believed. I had promised to raise my babies in a community of faith, that in turn promised to help me raise my babies. And, I wasn’t giving the community the chance to help me; and wasn’t exposing these now (pre)teens the possibility of letting Jesus meet them in worship…all because it was too hard and we were too busy and I didn’t want the hassles.
So…I’m trying an experiment until the end of the year. My children will be in worship; they will be in Sunday School; they will go to Waterworks and Confirmation and High School Youth Group. They won’t necessarily like it; they’ll probably still say it’s boring and we’re awful parents. It will make our evenings busier and our mornings more stressful. But, I only have a few more years with them and I want so badly for them to know there is a God who loves them unconditionally; I want so badly for them to experience an accepting and forgiving worshipping community; I want so badly for them to meet Jesus…and I believe with my whole heart, the faithful gathered people of God is one of the best places to help me fulfill the promises made all those years ago.
Wish me luck…or, better yet, join my experiment. Together, we just might raise up a generation who believes with their whole heart that Jesus is for them, too.
Taking a new road on this crazy life journey,