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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The 1,000th Baptism

Late last night, I got some wonderful news. We have FINALLY heard from the adoption agency in Mainland China that the sweet little girl who is being adopted by a young Asian couple in my congregation has been cleared to leave her homeland and make a new home here, in this community of faith .

The elated and relieved parents have been invited to China to pick her up (they've named her Sabrina) in six weeks. They emailed me from Hawai'i last night where they are visiting in-laws to ask if the baptism could be scheduled for two weeks after that.

That means, of course, a Father's Day Baptism.

That also means my 72nd baptism which I will be privileged to perform since it became my privilege and joy to be rector and pastor in this place.

But, here's the Really Big News: This will be the 1,000th recorded baptism St. Paul's.

We want to 'do it up brown', as they say in some parts of the country - at the very least, a festive reception/coffee hour. I'm thinking this calls for some champagne mimosas and chocolate covered strawberries, which has become our tradition after The Great Vigil of Easter.

I've been preaching "Baptismal Love Letters" since arriving at St. Paul's six years ago, wherein I look at the gospel through the lens of this baptism in hopes that the parents will put this little Love letter in the child's baby book, along with all the other mementos of the day. The greater hope is that, as part of the preparation for Confirmation, the child will read the Love letter and gain a better understanding of the significance of the vows taken for her that s/he will affirm.

This particular Love letter will also lift up some of the history of this church and how the founders could not have possibly imagined the great diversity of The Episcopal Church which this little child now represents.

Insofar as possible, we're also going to send out special invitations to all those who have been baptized at St. Paul's along with the number of the order of their baptism and encourage them to come to church wearing their baptismal number.

Never one to miss a great opportunity for evangelism, we're going to write up press releases and invite the local press to attend our celebration. Of course, that wouldn't necessarily work in The Big City, but it is one of the advantages of living in small "Mayberry USA" kind of hamlets. The local press will be all over this like Old Bay on Steamed Crabs.

I'm looking for other ideas - little creative ways to celebrate this major event in our congregational lives of faith - that also lift up and celebrate the importance of this sacramental aspect of our common lives.

Got any ideas? Has you church ever celebrated a landmark of baptism like this? I'd love to hear what you did.

In the meantime, rejoice with us as we prepare for the arrival of little Sabrina, who was born in October 2007 in the Republic of China, who will soon become the newest little soul to be reborn in Western Christendom.


susankay said...

Elizabeth+ -- I'd suggest lots and lots (1,000? maybe not) of balloons to be released en masse at some appropriate point.

And apologies for not getting in on time to say happy birthdays to you and your beloved.

emmy said...

And she wins a new car, right? What is the date? Will I be gone?

Brother David said...

This is not meant to be throwing cold water on your party!

It was my understanding that folks from various Asian cultures are a bit reserved. All this hubabaloo is OK with the parents, and especially any grandparents and extended family?

fuegoHugh said...

This is why I love being Anglican (sorry episcopalian) although as you say it is the love letter, and support of family in the childs faith journey that is most important when it comes to confirmation.

I like the idea of hundreds and thousands (thats what we call them in New Zealand, you might know them as sprinkles, they go well on cupcakes and make what we call fairy bread if sprinkled on white slices)