Monday, March 27, 2017

Photographing the Sacraments

Yesterday, we had the kind of baptism that used to drive me crazy:  we had more people taking pictures than standing with the parents to vow support of Christian upbringing.

I say it used to drive me crazy, because when I attended my nephew's first communion, I REALLY wanted to take pictures.  But I also wanted to be free from the distraction of my own picture taking and the obnoxiousness of other photographers to be better able to concentrate on the sacrament taking place.

Can we be present for God if we're angling for the best shot?

The picture taking didn't stop with the baptism.  As the family took communion, the photographer angled around the rail to get a picture or two.

Once, the picture taking made me crazy.  Now, I have a deeper concern.  It's been a long time since we baptized a child who was actually born to a congregation member.  So, when we as a church pledge to help raise the child in the faith, what are we promising?

I had never seen the families yesterday who wanted their children baptized.  I don't expect to ever see them again.  Why was the sacrament of baptism important to them?  And why didn't they go to their own churches?

I suspect that the answer is that the baptism was important to some other family member.  But the question remains:  why our small, Lutheran church?

For the families yesterday, I'm sure that some of them haven't ever been to church.  Our liturgy of baptism has the family reciting the Apostles Creed--they couldn't pronounce the word Pontius, as in Pontius Pilate.  Or maybe I'm wrong in assuming that if one has been to church occasionally one will have heard of one of the main actors in the Easter story.

I am not one of those Christians who says that we must get all children baptized, so that we can be sure that they're going to Heaven if they die.  I look at what we all promise during the sacrament, and I feel that we shouldn't do the baptism, if we're not taking those promises seriously.

Happily I am not a pastor who has to make those decisions.  I suspect the bishop would not be very happy with my decisions.

I will pray for the children we baptized yesterday--sadly, we will not be worshipping together or having VBS time or any of the other ways that I could help mold the faith of the children.

Or perhaps the Holy Spirit will surprise me.

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