On the Baptism of Gavin Samuel Westfall

Easter Vigil   April 15, 2006

Susan Langle

St. John the Baptist, Sanbornville

Dear Gavin:

This is the night. The night we remember the stories of God’s saving work throughout history. The night we remember that the whole world was created complicated and beautiful by God. The Creator yearned for companions who would faithfully keep the world, and its living things and its waters, so the Creator made you, and me, and your parents and the whole human family. And the Creator set us in the garden to tend it so that all might all flourish.

This is the night. The night we remember that God made us for freedom and that God rescued our ancestors from slavery. The night we remember that to claim our freedom we have to be willing to follow God into unknown territory, to trust that God goes before us, and watches our back. God brings us through the wilderness and says: in new soil I plant you: Grow, Bloom.

This is the night. The night we remember that when we were far from home in a strange land, tired to the bone, ready to lay down and die, God sent her own breath into our dry bones and said: indeed you shall live!

This is the dawn after the dark night of the death of Jesus. This is the dawn when the faithful women who went to weep over his broken body found that he yet lives. This is the night that he said to them and to us: Be not afraid. Go and tell my brothers and sisters that they will see me.

This is the night, Gavin, that we baptize you into these stories. Take them and make them your own. You are made for freedom and courage. You are made to live with joy and integrity. You are made to tell the truth. When it’s a hard truth, speak it. When the truth costs you, say it. When you don’t know what is truth, use your inquiring and discerning heart and listen for the still small voice of the Holy One who is whispering in your ear. Gavin, you are made to work to build this world into an Ark so that all of the creatures of the earth, and your human sisters and brothers in Mississippi and Mongolia, Darfur and Detroit may flourish. Pick up your hammer and take your place as a worker bee in God’s project of bringing wholeness to this fragile earth on which we float.

On this night we gather around you, and wash you in the waters of new life. We mark you with the sign of Jesus: his cross. This sign will be a reminder to you that you are baptized into his life and death and resurrection. Be like Jesus. Make trouble. Turn over the tables when you see the destitute being exploited. Like Jesus, give no quarter to those who would label others as beasts and kill them. Be like Jesus. Wash feet. We promise we will wash your stinky feet. We will lovingly hold them as they grow, offering you our wisdom so that your feet may find the good path. We will teach them by example to dance in God’s grace.

We promise to show you our true selves, the bottoms of our souls. We will let you see our broken hearts, our willingness to ask God’s forgiveness when we fail. We will let you wash our feet and love us in all our humanity as we struggle together to be the Holy People God calls us to be. We will share with you our faith in God’s abundant love, the love at the heart of the universe that sustains us to live as people of the Resurrection.

Come with us to the water. Come with us to the Empty Tomb. Join us in the dance of this Joyful and Sacred Life. Come, let us sing Alleluia. Amen.

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