Our invitation and explanation of what we have been seeking to do in baptising our kids (includes Seeds Prayer of Promise)…
In a culture where choice is perceived as freedom and spirituality is regarded as a largely private matter, the idea that we are making some sort of public religious choice for Lowenna before she can choose for herself can be easily misunderstood and even regarded as oppressive.
One of the ironies of today is that our Seeds Gatherings are supported by the Baptist Union whose principles are based on naming the historic abuse to individual freedom caused by such practices. We do value individual choice and seek to sensitively engage with this consumer culture.
However with the triumph of late capitalism we presently minister to many young people whose freedom to make life choices of any substance are profoundly limited because they have little connection to an understanding of God or community beyond that of individual consumer choice. We choose baptism for Lowenna in a culture that has already aggressively sought to predetermine many of Lowenna’s choices.
We were both brought up in Christian families where our identities were profoundly shaped by the Christian Story. Both of us were baptised as infants in the Methodist church. We were taught to understand that the significance of this was that as children of believers our identity had a claim over it. Our identity was wrapped up in covenant promises that extend from Abraham and Sarah, to their children and children’s, children.
We were given a secure foundation that came from the Wesleyan idea that the prevenient grace of God reaches out and surrounds us before we are capable of responding. We were always treated as part of the people of God, participating fully in the sacraments before we could decide for ourselves.
Growing up alongside Baptists we were confronted with a different approach which gave emphasis to the importance of conscious confession of faith, freedom of choice and being actively able to take on the ethical implications of discipleship. This of course was not neglected in our own tradition and as we came to experience Jesus as the Living Word for ourselves and decided to follow, we both chose to confirm our baptism as adults in the Uniting Church. Like all of us, Lowenna will one day have to choose for herself whether what is claimed for her today in faith is also true for her.
Our desire to baptise Lowenna derives from an understanding of the covenant promises of God to his people. We believe that the covenants of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, expressed in the sacramental forms of circumcision and baptism, are essentially connected. We believe Jesus words “Let the little ones come to me”, and embracing children as models to adults of true faith are significant for baptism. We also assume that New Testament practice of household baptism included children.
This means much for us as the sense of collective identity created through hospitable households is essential to the life of our Seedy mobs.
We make this choice for her now with the conviction that a bigger freedom is breaking in around her, protecting, calling, and guiding her and all of us, often despite our own choices. A freedom that extends from the liberation of slaves in Ancient Egypt; to ‘the way” of fisherman, tax collectors and sinners in the face of Rome; to movements across the world today. A freedom found in the gracious way of Jesus.
Our Baptism of Lowenna is a way of saying that she belongs.
BELONGS TO GOD
We believe that God is the community of love at the centre of the universe and the creator and sustainer of the wonderful mystery of life into which Lowenna has been born. Beyond any tradition, culture, religion or family, Lowenna belongs firstly to God who has given her as a gift to us all.
BELONGS TO A STORY
Our human identity can only be understood through stories.
We believe that God has chosen to communicate to us through the sacred story of Jesus and the Bible.
In baptising Lowenna as a child we are acknowledging that she is a participant in ancient promises made in these stories to Abraham and Sarah that ‘they, their children, and children’s children would be blessed.’
This sacred story was embodied in the person of Jesus Christ the “Living Word” who said “Let the children come to me.”
In baptism we want to acknowledge our commitment to this story as the lens through which we seek to understand reality and the way of life in which we will seek to raise Lowenna.
We would seek to be loyal to this living story over against other more dominant stories in our world that would seek our allegiance and make claim to our identity.
BELONGS TO A PEOPLE
Our human identity can only be formed in relation to others.
Community is formed when people gather together around this life-giving story and seek to follow the way of Christ in the world.
This “communion of saints” is one that transcends time and so we will seek to celebrate the traditions of those that have gone before us in faith.
Infant Baptism acknowledges that even before Lowenna decides whether or not she will follow in this way for herself she is already a part of this community.
Because this community is committed to a lifestyle of simplicity, solidarity and service with those considered least in the world, Lowenna will participate in the sufferings and joys this entails even before she can choose otherwise.
It acknowledges that any personal choice she makes will be shaped greatly by those that surround her.
For this reason we have asked people of God to gather and commit to God, this story, this people and to Lowenna.
We currently understand and practice ‘church’ through intentional networks of local Christian households. This is given primary expression for us through the Seeds Covenant that has arisen out of Urban Seed and those who join in its Gatherings.
We also value our participation in The Common Rule and ministry of Common Life, the Footscray Salvation Army and Footscray Baptist Church. We are encouraged by the emergence of Cowethas Peran Sans (Fellowship of St Piran) in Cornwall and its Diaspora and the connections to a living Celtic heritage this offers to Lowenna. We are encouraged that Ewen’s godparents, the Gow’s have returned to minister at the local Church of Christ and acknowledge our historical connection with the Uniting Church and its local expressions… particularly the cricket club that still bears its name….Go Streeters!
We value the love and support of our families and friends.
BELONGS TO A PLACE
Our identity can only be understood in relation to God’s creation.
The promise of land and a renewed creation from which people can work to create a sustainable life for themselves has always been a part of God’s gracious provision.
Lowenna’s name indicates that she is part of a people who have lived in the specific places of Cornwall and Yorkshire. Infant Baptism is a rite that comes out of the spiritual tradition of these places and that of our families and so we want to acknowledge both the Celtic and Methodist traditions of those places.
For many reasons we now call Melbourne’s West our home.
An important part of us finding our identity in this new place is by acknowledging the ancient custodians of this land who have lived long and well in this place.
We believe that even before the time of Biblical history, God has been present in this place and has spoken in and through the stories of the Wurundjeri peoples. We want the liturgy to reflect that acknowledging and learning the songs and totems of this place will be important for Lowenna in finding her way.
Seeds Prayer of Promise
(for Lowenna and each other based upon the Seeds Covenant.)
God our holy community of gracious hospitality, in the midst of our homelessness you extend us an invitation to Grow Home. (symbol: packet of seeds and Credo Café bowl)
Help us to raise Lowenna to know and to grow a rich sense of home. Let us teach her the danger of wealth and the freedom of economic sharing. May the poor always be with her. Teach her the power and beauty of her body; fidelity with your wild creativity and respect for the sacred connections of your Spirit, our bodies and all creation. Teach her how to eat slow so that her eyes may be opened to your presence through the breaking of bread. Extend to her no privilege other than that of Christian equality, teaching her the art of mutual submission. Grant us courage to teach her what laws to break and how to give of ourselves with the same passion with which you lived and died.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
May we Know the Word. ( symbol: bible)
May we raise Lowenna to know the stories of a God who re-creates a fallen world, not just ancient words on a page but the living Spirit of Christ among us. Teach her how to choose her stories and story her choices; how to spin a life giving yarn and to listen for your voice in silence and Sabbath rest. Teach her to meditate and pray so that she may experience your love and cling to hope in the midst of failure, suffering and adversity.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
May we Go Engage. (symbol: bottle of oil)
May we raise Lowenna with the confidence to engage our troubled world. To speak truth to the powers and to each of us. To name and cast out that which is evil in our world and within, through militant nonviolence. Teach her the arts of hospitality, mercy and forgiveness. Teach her how to negotiate the streets and danger by teaching her every community safety trick you know and having done this, when and how to risk it all for the sake of love. Teach her the good work of love as the only true measure of success. And because each of us will fail her, in the midst of our brokenness, may she know and share your healing power; your gracious hospitality to us.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayer
May we teach her all this but also not forget to learn from her, because the economy of God belongs to such as these. Amen