Yesterday our daughter Caroline was sealed with the Holy Spirit, and marked with the cross of Christ forever. It was a wonderful day with the whole people of God, the wonderful congregation of Salem Lutheran of whom I am happy and grateful to be a part of, and a fantastic day of gathering with family and friends.
All of this has me breathing a deep amount of gratitude. Thank you to each and everyone of you for your prayers and love. For all of those who were there in person and who have been and will be a part of Caroline’s life, thank you. Thank you for making promises as the community of the Body of Christ together to support her as a fellow Child of God with you. For good food, music, prayers, service to neighbor (much like the point of yesterday’s gospel story), and all of the love, I give thanks, and offer the following thoughts in letter form.
Dear Child of God,
You are loved more than you may ever know. Your parents love you so much. Your grandparents spoil you as good grandparents do- with amazing food, gifts, stories, hugs, snuggles, smiles and more. Your aunts and uncles think you are the cutest, and all turned out and stood with you and for you at your baptism. You even had two great grandparents with you, and four other great grandmas thinking about you in Wisconsin, Washington, and Hawaii. You are most certainly loved.
The love doesn’t stop. Your church family loves you so much! The loving congregation of whom you are a part of and whom welcomed you as an official Child of God, Christian, and worker in God’s mission together yesterday has been praying for you since the thought of you even became possible long before you entered the world.
Your “Nebraska family” loves you so much. Some day you will discover how blessed we are as a family by loved ones near and far, and especially the amazing synod staff (your dad’s and mom’s colleagues and friends) who are your adopted aunts and uncles. Your Nebraska family turned out in droves for you yesterday little one.
Your godparents love you. They came from Washington and Iowa, from Tekamah and Fremont; and some even made stops along their long journey. Your godparents in Minnesota and Texas were very much present in love and spirit. Oh Child of God, you are so loved. And being that you are a pastor’s and deacon’s kid, it’s probably great that you have more godparents than you can count on your hands at one time.
You are claimed dear Child of God. It took all the strength your dad could muster yesterday not to break down crying as he played and sang the words of the hymn, “You Are Mine,” as he saw your mom take you to pray at the communion rail. God’s promises and call are true, “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.”
You are promised. Yesterday promises were made for you and on behalf of you, by your parents, godparents, and the whole community of faith together. Baptism is a public thing for a reason- because it’s a sacrament and part of the whole body of Christ together, because in it, not only does God make a promise and claim on us, we make promises to each other and for each other as God’s people together. Some day when you are a bit older, you will hopefully affirm those promises. But for now, know that your big loving family and community is holding you in them. And there’s nothing more beautiful and wonderful than that.
With your smile on your face, I know there are two words you would say if you could talk yet. You’d say, “thank you.” You’d say thank you to God, but God already knows that. You’d say thank you to all those who love, but we already know that. You’d say thank you to everyone who helped make yesterday so wonderful- seen or unseen, public or behind the scenes. For the wonderful cake, for making travels and trips from near and far, for coming and spending a Sunday morning at another congregation…
So little one, because you can’t say thank you, let your dad say it for you. Thank you beautiful and loved people of God. As your fellow servant, I am grateful for all of you. Thank you for holding and supporting our daughter, and thank you for loving and supporting us as we continue to figure out what this life and vocation of being a parent is. And thank you for being part of this faith community and journey together.
Oh Child of God, as your mom preached so well yesterday, your life has changed forever with those promises. It won’t go like anyone will expect, but I guarantee it will be a rich life of adventure- of ups and downs, mountaintop experiences and very low valleys, but it will also be one full of love, grounded in God’s love for you.
I love you so much little one!