Parents Through Baptism

Mother’s Day worship is one that is highly debated in the ministry world. As pastors, do we focus on this holiday in our sermons and if so, how do we do so faithfully? What about liturgy? What about those women in our congregation who dread Mother’s Day for a variety of reasons?

Placing all of my cards face up, my personal story is this: I am a 28 year-old female, married for almost two years. It seems that many of my friends are having their first children, my sister (3 years older than myself) is preparing to have her third, and my husband and I do not yet have children though there is not a lack of outside encouragement in that direction. Mother’s Day can be a slight annoyance for me at this point.

watts fontA few weeks ago I spent time with Durham Presbyterian Church (Durham, NC) and have thought about that visit quite a bit this week. I happened to visit when the congregation was celebrating the sacrament of Baptism. This happened to follow one of those conversations about my family plans and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I groaned a bit when I realized what was going to happen that day and even wondered if I might be able to slip out to go to the bathroom during. Long story short— I took a deep breath and remained in worship, and I am so thankful that I did.

Following a beautiful baptism of a sweet child of God, Rev. Franklin Golden proceeded with the sermon. During this very meaningful time, Rev. Golden spoke of the way being a parent changes someone but focused on how each one of us gathered, with children and without, are called to care for one another. When we remember our own Baptism and vow to help care for one another during the baptisms of others, we take on a parental role. “This child is now your child,” he said.

This child, this squirmy little boy who I had never met and may never see again, represented all those who I have vowed to care for. This small child, this congregation and all of those who I have spent time with over the last year and a half, all of the individuals whose baptisms I have witnessed— each one has been entrusted in my care. I am not a biological mother, but that does not mean that I do not play that role in many areas.

As Christians, we are called to love one another and to care for one another. We are called to embody and share God’s nurturing and caring love. When we do that, we are in turn a mother or father figure.

Last night I was leaving the high school where my husband is a teacher. It was 9 o’clock and dark, the sights and sounds of downtown were cranking up. Off to the side of the sidewalk I saw young boy, probably a freshman (roughly 15 years old) sitting quiet and upset. After talking to him for a few minutes and helping to figure out the best way to address what was going on, I was reminded of that Baptism sermon from Durham Presbyterian Church once again. When talking to my husband after we got home, I not-so-jokingly said “the mother in me came out when I saw him… I couldn’t help it.”

Me with my amazing nieces! Not my own children, but I care for them as if they were.
Me with my amazing nieces! Not my own children, but I care for them as if they were.

Maybe it was the maternal instinct. Maybe it is because I vowed at my baptism, and again at my ordination, to care for God’s children. Maybe the two have merged in a glorious way that I will never begin to comprehend.

This Mother’s Day, whether you honor the mothers in your congregation or focus on the (probably just as difficult) lectionary text of Revelation 22 I urge you to remember and to find a way to remind not just the women in your congregation, but all of the individuals gathered, that we have been called to care for one another. In our baptisms we have not only claimed our identity as Child of God, but we also claim an identity as one who shares God’s nurturing love with one another, caring for one another as if we are mothers and fathers.

If we don’t serve as God’s embracing arms, caring for one another in this incredible and unique way, who will?

Whether you have ten children or no children, whether your children still leave their mess around the house or haven’t been home in five years, whether you desire children or think that could be the worst thing to ever happen– this Mother’s day, I celebrate you and all the ways that you live into your baptism and into mine, reminding me of God’s incredible love and helping me to share that in my own way!

Rev. Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer

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