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Over the years, I’ve developed a little tradition of writing a letter to the child or children being baptized as the sermon on that Sunday. I’ve been sharing some of these letters here on Sundays . This letter to Saylor, Zoey, and Fynn was preached in 2008.
Dear Saylor, Zoey, and Fynn,
I have a confession to make. I have never baptized triplets before! Does that surprise you? But here you are — all three of you — long awaited and prayed for, carefully watched over for the first few fragile weeks of your lives, and now blossoming before all of our eyes as if a “three in one” birth isn’t even that big a deal!
There is something amazing and beautiful about your births, although of course, there is something amazing about all births. You came into the world three at one time.
Three in one — that is the formula, the language that we Christians use to describe a God who is indescribable. Three in one. A Trinity. Of course, we believe that there is only one God. But mysteriously, we also proclaim that this one God is known or revealed to us in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . . Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. . .The Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that binds them together.
In the theology of the early church, one of the best ways to imagine this mysterious Trinity was as a dance, a constantly moving and dynamic community of three persons. Perichoresis, the early church called it. That’s a Greek word that means dancing around, but it implies intimacy, sharing, indwelling, and self-giving. You three have known about the movement and dynamics of community since you were in the womb! There you shared cramped space, nutrition, even the staff of life, dancing together as one (as I’m sure that your mother can testify!)
Today, as you are baptized, in a visible way, you are being initiated into a community, the community of those who share in the Trinitarian life of God. You three have a head start in knowing that human life — if it is to reflect the image of God at all — is a life lived in community. It is a life of giving and taking, of intimacy and sharing, of moving to and fro, an endless dance. And that it implies stepping on each others’ toes or getting out of step or even tripping!
Our passage in 1 Peter 2 uses a different image — living stones. In baptism, we come to the One who is the living stone, rejected by many but precious in God’s sight, Jesus the Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone of all our faith. In Christ, and in our baptisms, we are called to become living stones that are being built together into a spiritual house around the Living Stone, Jesus Christ.
Today, by God’s grace, three new stones are being added to this edifice, this spiritual house. And just as stones are placed one on top of the other, remember that all of us stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before, others who have kept the faith and “proclaimed the mighty acts of the One who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light!”
God’s mightiest act (and when you learn to read your Bible you will see that there were many) is the mighty act of grace in Jesus. As the scripture reminds us “Once, we were not a people, but now we are God’s people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.”
In Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we come to know that God is for us and not against us. Today by your baptism, we will all come to know that you, and we too — who will dance with you, and are living stones right along side you being built together into that spiritual house — belong to God in a fuller way.
Saylor, Zoey, and Fynn, children of the covenant, in baptism you are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s own forever. Amen.