Whenever we baptize children in the Anglican Church, I’m often struck by the way the liturgy reminds us that we are baptizing them into a complex reality that is both individual and communal. Something is going on between them and God, but sometime is also going on between us and them. They are baptized into the death and life of Christ, but they are also baptized into the communal life of the Church, becoming part of us And while the Christian life is fundamentally a personal life of faith, repentance, obedience and worship, God calls us all to live that life out in a community who believes, repents, obeys and worships. Baptism is a personal reality, but it is not a wholly individual reality. We are all baptized into community.
Where Christians live together in community there are mutual responsibilities, like loving another, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. And baptism into community involves responsibility as well. Our baptismal liturgy reminds the parents of those baptized that they are responsible to raise their children in faith, to teach them the “basics” and to guide them into the mature life of a committed disciple of Jesus. The parents serve as a core sphere of discipleship, but they are embedded within a broader community who also share responsibility for their lives in Christ. The children are responsible to come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and commit their lives to him in faithful obedience. But the congregation doesn’t get off the hook in our baptismal service! The parents are not the only active players in their children’s spiritual development. Instead, we all are asked as a community whether we will do all in our power to support those baptized in their life in Christ, and we often loudly and eagerly affirm “WE WILL”. How do we flesh out the promises we’ve just made? I’d like to suggest four major ways that we can support the children of All Saints and their parents in their journey of discipleship.