Marked as Christ’s Own Forever – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

A sermon preached at the Baptism of Josephine Leach Curtis

Romans  6:3-5
Psalm 23
Mark 10:13-16

Babies fascinate us.  They are objects of wonder.  Tiny fingers grasping tightly, with even tinier fingernails.  What a miracle!  Eyes wandering, then beginning to focus and take in the world, then recognizing and responding to the adults who love them.  Lungs that can give a powerful shout; tears that flow when crying.  Tiny eyelashes and soft, soft skin.  Learning new things every day and slowly becoming the persons they are meant to be.

To hold a baby is an experience of wonder.  You are a miracle of God, Josephine. We hold you, look into your eyes, and praise God, echoing the words of the psalmist,

“…You created her inmost parts; you knit her together in her mother’s womb.  We will thank you because she is marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and we know it well.” 

                                                                                                      (Psalm 139:12-13)

But Josephine’s tiny features and emerging personality aren’t the only wonders today.  Today there is also the wonder of God, reaching out to lift her with gentle arms, to embrace and welcome her, just as Jesus did to the children brought to him.  This is the mystery of baptism: that God claims us as God’s own, marks us with the sign of the Cross, seals us with the Holy Spirit, and declares that we belong to God forever.  In baptism, God demonstrates God’s extravagant love for us.

Josephine’s baptism marks her as “Christ’s own forever.”  There is nothing that will ever separate her from the love of God in Christ – no disappointment or failure, no defeat or loss, no suffering or hardship.  No matter what life brings, God’s strong, loving arms will always encircle her, always protect her, always carry her.  She is in the care of the Good Shepherd, the one who calls each of his sheep by name and loves them as the unique beings that they are.

Our hearts overflow with love when we gaze into Jo’s eyes.  We want to protect her, nourish her, and love her; we want to encourage her and support her; we want to guide her and teach her.  We want nothing but the best for her; every good thing.  And if our hearts so overflow with love and if we want so much to care for her, how much more the heart of God, who has created her and called her by name and claimed her as his own.  Blessed be God!

And blessed be you, Jo’s parents and godparents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends; you who will be the hands and eyes and voices that will watch over her, protecting and nurturing her.  You will be God’s gentle hands and loving voice; you will be channels of God’s love and blessing in her life until she is old enough to enter into a relationship with God herself.  God bless you in your task.

All praise and thanks to you, most merciful Father, for adopting us as your own children, for incorporating us into your holy Church, and for making us worthy to share in the inheritance of your saints in light; through Jesus Christ you Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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