Friday, October 6, 2017
A Baptismal Letter to Jared (Thanksgiving Sunday, 8 October 2017)
On Thanksgiving Sunday we will celebrate Jared's baptism. As is my custom, I have written a letter to Jared that I hope he will read in the years to come.
8 October 2017
Today Canadians from coast to coast to coast are giving thanks for the many blessings we have as citizens of this country. Here at Saint Faith’s we are giving thanks for something very special --- you! Today you are being baptized into the Christian community and I am writing this letter to you so that you know how special you are in God’s eyes and in ours.
Being baptized means becoming a member of a community that serves God and the world by gathering, transforming and sending people. Let me tell you a little more about gathering, transforming and sending.
We are baptized to gather people into life-giving relationships with God, with creation and with each other. We know that there are many people who live lonely lives even when they are living in a big city such as Metro Vancouver. God wants you and me to gather people together so that they are not alone.
Some lonely people live in a ‘flat’ world where they believe that what they see is all there is to life. Our job is to share with them a vision of a world created by God, a world filled with signs of God’s love for us and a world whose future is more than we can imagine.
Some lonely people think that our world is ours to use up, to do with as we please and to leave a mess for future generations. We believe that this world is a precious garden that God entrusts to our care. God expects us to be careful gardeners of this fragile earth and to pass it to the next generation more beautiful than we received it.
Some lonely people do not have friends with whom to share their joys and sorrows, their hopes and fears, their dreams and frustrations. We are here to be their friends.
Some lonely people do not know how to forgive and have forgotten how to treat others with respect and dignity. We are here to show them how to forgive and how to respect the dignity of all God’s children.
We are baptized to become who we truly are, a life-long process of transformation. Becoming who God wants us to be doesn’t happen all at once. Even people as old as I am are still learning how to become our true selves.
We cannot become who we truly are by ourselves. We need family, friends and teachers who can help us when we struggle and by rejoicing with us when we succeed. This is why God gathers us into communities such as Saint Faith’s. Here we find the help, the hope, the home we need to grow up, so that our lives become signs of God’s love made known to us in Jesus.
We are baptized to be sent into the world as agents of God’s justice, God’s compassion and God’s generosity. Many people don’t know this secret --- God needs us and wants us to work with God to make this world the beautiful place God first dreamed it could be. So God gathers us together here at Saint Faith’s and many other places like it so that we can be transformed into agents, co-workers with God.
God’s world, God’s garden, needs justice. Justice is done when each one of us, no matter who we are, no matter what we have done, is treated equally, is treated with dignity and is treated as one of God’s beloved children.
God’s world, God’s garden, needs compassion. Compassion is shown when we realize that when one person suffers --- no matter where in the world she or he is --- we all suffer. Even when people we do not know or do not like are in trouble, compassion means we reach out to them.
God’s world, God’s garden, needs generosity. Generosity comes from knowing that everything we are, everything we have, comes originally from God as a gift. When we know this, we are less likely to be greedy or to grab more things for ourselves than we really need. Then we can give more freely to those whose needs are greater than our own.
Gather. Transform. Send. This is what we are here to do today, Jared. We are gathering you into this family of God who call themselves ‘Saint Faith’s’. We are beginning your transformation from who you are today into who God wants you to become in the days, the weeks, the months and the years ahead. We are sending you out as an agent of justice, compassion and generosity --- even in you don’t know yet what this all means for you. We here at Saint Faith’s, with your family, will help you learn what this means.
When you are older, I hope that you will read this letter and celebrate how God has been at work in you and through you. I hope that you will celebrate how you have gathered the lonely together, how you have been transformed and are being transformed by God, how you have been sent out to do justice, to show compassion and to live generously.
May God bless you and your family on the life-time journey with God and with Christians here and everywhere --- today and always.
In Christ’s love,
The Parish of Saint Faith’s