Flight from the Font
"Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me."
On the morning of my own baptism I locked myself in my bedroom. I was five years old and I didn’t want to go.
I don’t think my objections were theological. I was worried the water would be cold. The final agreement was that I would come out, but only if my mother promised to bring a small towel up front so that she could dry me off right away.
I was baptized on the same day as my little brother, who was too young to put up any such resistance.
In baptism, we make the same promises to adults, and teenagers, as we do to children, and babies. We promise them our love, our support, and our prayers. We promise to embrace them as our own. We proclaim what we believe to be true: that God made them, and God loves them, just as they are.
These are especially profound promises to make to babies and they make a powerful statement: we do not need to know what someone is going to be like in order to promise to love them. We do not need to know how someone is going to turn out before we call them blessed. We do not need to get anything in return, before we call them our own.
On Sunday we baptize Ezra. I hope he’ll feel the love, but he won’t know what we are doing. He may cry if the water is too cold.
My prayer for my son, as it is for all that we baptize, at any age, is that what we do at that font shows God’s love the best we can. And my prayer for all of us is that we will receive the grace and courage we need to stay faithful to the profound promises we make each time we fill that font.
Prayer: Spirit of God, sweep over me. Re-carve the depths your fingers traced, in sculpting me. Amen.