Like many of you, I have no recollection of my own Baptism. I’ve seen pictures – four month old me in a white gown being held by my mom who is sporting a ‘60s bouffant. But that’s pretty much all I knew of my Baptism until I became a catechist. Now I relive and rejoice in my Baptism almost every week.
When we start the lesson on Baptism with the Atrium children, we go back to the verse from Isaiah that we sing so often in Advent. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The children and catechist talk about how long the people waited for that great light God promised. And then the light came into the world – as a small baby named Jesus in a little town called Bethlehem. At this point, we light the Paschal candle.
Then there is a moment where the light seems to disappear from the world for a very short while. But it is doesn’t. It rises and dispels the darkness as we celebrate at Easter. The light of Christ is God’s greatest gift to us, one that can never be extinguished. The children and catechists each light their own candle from the Paschal candle hearing the words, “This is the light of Christ for you. May you walk as a child of the light.”
We revisit Baptism again to look at the other signs of our welcome into the Christian family. Signs like water. The children fill a small basin with water, and we talk about what water does for us in our every day life. It cleans us, it nourishes us, it makes the plants grow, It is essential to our lives. Then we hold our fists over the miniature fount and pour water over it three times – in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit – to represent what is done at our Baptism over our head.
Finally, we open the jar of Chrism (that’s sweet smelling, sticky stuff) and, just like our priests have done for us, we put our strongest finger – the thumb — into the jar and trace the Cross into each other’s forehead, saying, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.”
I can’t remember my newborn baptism day, but I will always remember the times your children lit my baptismal candle and invited me to walk as a child of the light. I will remember when they pressed the chrism on my head and marked me as Christ’s. Forever.
I ‘m pretty sure the other Cattechists feel the same way. Thank you for the gift of letting us walk with your child this year.
Tomorrow at Pentacost we will welcome another member of St. Philip’s into the family of Christ. Bring your children up close to the fount so they can witness an actual baptism, the one they have recreated so many times in atrium.
May you walk as a child of the light,