Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6
BAPTISM – THE GRANDADDY LETTERS (at five weeks): Yesterday, at a beautiful church in rural Connecticut, Naomi and Craig Campbell presented their infant son, David, for baptism.
- Was it touching? Yes…
- Picture perfect in every way? Absolutely…
- An important rite of passage? Most certainly…
- A charming photo-op with little real meaning other than a chance to play dress-up and schedule a family brunch? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!
You see, prior to baptizing David Henry, Naomi and Craig spoke their own membership vows at the church. The church, in a very meaningful tradition, brings the official church role-book into the sanctuary. Naomi and Craig signed the ledger in a public declaration of their commitment to the life and ministry of Westchester Congregational Church.
Our grandson, David Henry, was baptized in the context of a public family commitment to serve and honor God. The other part of that commitment is the one the church makes. Westchester may be a small congregation, 1,400 miles away from the church where they were married, but all of us now have a stake in David Henry; we’ve all made a solemn commitment to love and pray for his parents and to encourage them in the life they are forging as a deliberately Christian family.
Together, and in an active community of faith, Naomi and Craig will be raising David Henry as a disciple of Jesus. They are going to teach him, day by day, all about the ways that God loves him. But it’s not a job they have to do on their own. The Westchester Congregational Church have promised to teach him about Jesus, too, and to encourage him, and to encourage his parents along the way.
Mutual Commitment: And then – because they love God and because they have chosen to make this commitment – Naomi and Craig are going to share themselves, their gifts, their time, their resources, their hopes, their dreams, their struggles, their celebrations, their creativity and their faithfulness with the Westchester Congregational Church.
Connections: I don’t know if it’s because I’m a writer, or an amateur theologian, or simply an observer, but I always seem to notice connections between events.
- Sunday was the official ending of our 50th birthday celebration at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon.
- Sunday was also the day Naomi and Craig – and David – officially began their journey as a committed family at the Westchester Congregational Church.
- At First Brandon, we dedicated a “time-capsule” of the 50th-year at the exact same moment David was baptized.
There is a symmetry to the events. It’s as if the Campbell family have made the decision to help define the next part of this ongoing story.
However it plays out, I know that David Henry is part of a family – and a church family – that isn’t afraid to go public with its commitment to love and serve God as part of an active community of faith.That gives me so much hope – and promise – for the future – DEREK
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. (Acts 16 – the end of the story about the jailer in Philippi)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.