For the next few weeks, we will be experimenting with our Sunday School organization. Godly Play will encompass 1st-5th grade. Godly Play is designed to be used for all age levels and we have wanted to expand the experience. This desire, combined with the struggle to recruit teachers for this oldest group, persuaded us to try something new. In the lead up to Lent, we will see how having the groups together works and then evaluate how to proceed from there. We’d love to hear feedback from parents and children as the process unfolds.
We baptize people in the name of the Father…the Son…and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we call the Father the Creator. We call the Son the Redeemer. We call the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. People are baptized at all ages, from babies through the very old. We ask the person about to be baptized questions, or the parents or godparents if they are babies. We say prayers for them.
Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story. Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion. Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development. What a gift to provide a child. Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.
Yesterday, we welcomed two new members into the church through Baptism. In Sunday School, your children talked about baptism and its role in marking us a members of the church. Baptism symbolizes our entrance into God’s family, the Communion of Saints, just as their names, given by their parents, symbolize their entrance into your families.
“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” -Luke 3:16
Of course we know now that the Baptism that John the Baptist spoke of and demonstrated then still lives in our midst, only now as one of our greatest and most celebrated ceremonies in our modern church. But besides being a prophet, John was someone who wasn’t afraid and in turn started a movement.
As I sit and think of how I relate to this scripture, and self-reflect in regards to how I can use it to better myself, I find something very interesting. John listened to God, prepared himself for the journey ahead, and spoke what he felt to others. He did this unapologetically in fact, and you could say he just “went for it”.
As I worked to help a wonderful group of volunteers prepare bread in the parish hall on a Friday nearly a month ago, I remember a conversation I had with Colin Borgstrom. He shared with me a story in regards to “feeling called” to bake the bread for this ministry. He shared this feeling with his wife, and without hesitation, or maybe a little… they began to work to make it happen.
I think we can all learn from these stories. Sometimes we might not feel adequately equipped or prepared for certain “adventures”, but I would argue that neither were those who dropped everything to travel the distance for the visitation of the newborn baby born in Bethlehem.
Sometimes, we just have to “go for it”.
– John Knouse, Director of Family Ministries.
The rite of Holy Baptism is administered at Saint James’ Church using the symbol associated with Saint James himself – the scallop shell. Parishioners have witnessed the celebrant use the shell in dipping water from the font, and baptizing the candidate therewith – the culmination of this ancient ceremony.
On these occasions at Saint James’ Church, the celebrant uses a beautiful shell made of silver and having a cross engraved on the small handle. The shell was a gift in 1952 from Mrs. Samuel Spencer Hall, Jr. (known as Pearl) in memory of her son and only child, Samuel Spencer Hall III, tragically killed in action in Korea on September 27, 1952, at age 23. He had been baptized, confirmed and was a communicant at Saint James’. He was buried in Warrenton Cemetery on November 28, 1952. Young Sam had married Anne Benney the year before his death; he and his wife had a baby girl, Jeanne Hambleton Hall, born August 30, 1952. Sam knew of his daughter’s birth – a month before he died.
The late Anne Brooke Smith, life-long faithful member of Saint James’ Church, and its historian, wrote in January 1999, “I was assistant to Mrs. Hall that year (1952) in her nursery-kindergarten class in Sunday School. I can see Mrs. Hall holding the scallop shell up and explaining to the children what it was and how it would be used in baptism scooping the water up to be poured over the head. I think it was used first when her granddaughter was baptized.” – on January 4, 1953