Dear Members and Friends of Good Shepherd,
The last two Sundays of September (17th and 24th) will be devoted to Adult Forum discussions concerning the Sacrament of Communion and whether unbaptized persons should receive the bread and cup. In preparation for these discussions, I have provided position papers from ELCA clergy addressing this topic for you to read, which include an introduction to the topic, a statement against communing the unbaptized, and a statement for communing the unbaptized.
Chances are, we may not have made up our minds on this issue by the time of the Adult Forums, but these resources are an attempt to familiarize you with the wider conversations and considerations occurring in our church related to this important matter, and to help us be more informed as seekers and people of faith regarding our identity as Christian in relation to the world around us.
The Reformation did not end with Luther, but is an ever evolving witness to our ever evolving faith.
Your brother in Christ,
BAPTISMS AT GOOD SHEPHERD LUTHERN CHURCH
Baptism for All Ages
The Sacrament of Baptism links us with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and is an outward and visible sign of God’s redeeming grace. Jesus told his disciples to baptize “and make disciples of every nation.” (Matthew 28:18-20) The symbolism of baptism is that we are washed clean of and die to our previous form of life, dedicated to newness of life in Christ.
Baptism is a sign of God’s love being poured upon us. In baptism, especially by immersion, we symbolically participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Baptism at Good Shepherd
The decision to be baptized, or have your children baptized, is a serious and exciting one with lifelong responsibilities for the parents, as well as for those chosen as sponsors or godparents.
Lutherans practice two forms of baptism. Depending on the church, baptism either takes place at a font or by total immersion. Some Lutheran churches have a baptistery with a pool where people are immersed, but in most cases the person being baptized is sprinkled with water from a basin in the font. At Good Shepherd, baptism is offered by sprinkling for infants, children and adults.
Confirmation of belief through public Confession of Faith is available at any time once a person has come to an age of understanding. A Confirmation curriculum is designed for those who were baptized as infants (and, therefore, had no say in their baptism) to ultimately decide whether they wish to claim or confirm their baptism.
The baptism of infants and children reminds us of the Gospel message that the love of God is given as a free gift of grace, and that children are claimed as God’s own even before they claim God.
Baptism by Immersion, Courtesy of Metropolitan Chicago Synod, ELCA
Public baptisms take place during the worship service when scheduled by the Pastor. It is required that parents meet with the Pastor prior to the Baptism.
Origin & Confession of Baptism
The word baptize comes from the Greek term baptizein meaning to dip, plunge or immerse. Practices of ritual immersion were common within ancient Judaism as acts of purification. The mikveh, or ritual bathing, served as a means of both purification and receiving converts into Judaism. This was the practice John the Baptizer employed when calling fellow Jews to repentance; and the mikveh was the means by which Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.
For nearly three centuries following the resurrection of Christ, Christianity was an outlawed and treasonous religion; for in confessing Jesus as Lord, converts at their baptism were denying the lordship of Caesar. This baptismal confession was, therefore, both a spiritual and political act of faith in the new realm an order that God was initiating through Christ.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church maintains this understanding of faith, acknowledging by our baptism that we are pledging ourselves and family to a new way and discipline of life under God.
The role of godparents originated during the fourth century when the church endured much hardship and persecution because it chose to follow Christ over Caesar. Godparents were members of the church who served as mentors, instructors and sponsors of adult converts attesting to the fact that they weren’t Roman spies or individuals out to undermine the community and organization of the church. Their responsibility was to prepare the convert for new life and commitment to the way of God embodied in Christ Jesus.
Over the centuries, the role of godparents has changed from one who mentors adult converts to one who provides spiritual guidance to an individual from infancy throughout the course of his or her life. This role changed with the understanding that people are born into an atmosphere of selfish pursuits and sinful denial of God, requiring godparents to serve as persons who assisted parents in raising children in an environment of Christian nurture, care and practice.
The author of Proverbs instructs that we: “Train children in the right way so that when they are old, they will not stray from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) And when the disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the realm of heaven?” Jesus called a child, whom he placed among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the realm of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is greatest in the realm of heaven. Whoever welcomes such a child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5) In other words, parents and godparents, as children of God, are encouraged to be as trusting and obedient of God’s guidance and instruction as they expect their children to be toward their guidance and instruction. You must model faithfulness.
The Inclusive Embrace of Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is a faith community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Our church attempts to embody a way of life that is welcoming, inclusive and accepting of all who seek the way of Christ. Our members seek to model a behavior of care and consideration for others regardless of their economic or social conditions; a behavior unlike that commonly experienced beyond our borders; a behavior patterned after the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. This is a way of life that needs to be learned and involves much commitment from each member, because each member is observed and studied by those who wonder if we seriously practice what we preach, and who wonder if the way of God in Christ is worth pursuing. So, we invite you to get involved in the life and ministry of this church as together we attempt to facilitate change and healing in our world.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
273 VT Route 15, PO Box 495
Jericho, Vermont 05465
Office: (802) 899-3932, Pastor Arnold’s Personal Cell: (802) 503-9666
273 Vt Route 15
PO Box 495
Jericho, VT 05465
Phone: (802) 899-3932
Or use our contact form.