As we gathered for worship last Sunday, the baptismal font was at the center of our life together. This was especially evident when we welcomed new members through the rite of Affirmation of Baptism. Standing beside the water, we said: “Merciful God, we thank you for Rick, Satya, John, Nancy, Griffin, Trinara, Tom, Kathy, and Colleen, whom you have made your own by water and the word in baptism.” When they had made their own confession of faith and renewal of baptismal vows, we then took water from the font and traced it on the foreheads of those being welcomed, saying: “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”
Not long after that, we invited another group to come to the water. It was made up of nineteen youth and adult leaders from St. Mark’s who will be attending the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit this week. For them, too, it was an opportunity to affirm their baptismal vocation to “live among God’s faithful people, hear the Word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, proclaim the good news of God in Christ in word and deed, serve all people in the way of Christ, and strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” Before they returned to their seats, we made sure that they all got a little bit wet with water from the font. It was our way of sending them out with the promise of God’s blessing in every moment of this new adventure.
In the rhythm of the day, the baptismal font was also a place of blessing for one of our faithful members who is leaving Washington state for year-round living in Arizona. The Rite of Farewell and Godspeed for Arlyn Saathoff began with the reminder that “In Holy Baptism our Lord Jesus Christ received you and made you a member of his church.” We traced the water on Arlyn’s forehead, too, as he stood beside the font, and we prayed that God would send him forth to be a blessing to others, just as he has been to us.
Each time you come to church, you are welcome to dip your hand in the water of the font and remember all of these promises and blessings for your life. As many do, you may then trace the water on your own forehead, remembering that you are a child of God who is sealed in the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.
Pastor Jan Ruud