Today, I’m addressing another question related to Baptism: What is the role of the Godparents or Sponsors?
This question leads me to ponder… what is anyone’s role in this ritual? God’s? The parents or the person (if an adult)? The congregation’s? The pastor’s? The wider community’s?
I don’t know who created the above piece of art (my apologies) but I like it very much. It speaks to me about the interconnection of all of the above named “actors”.
In this piece, the figure of Jesus is prominent; clearly there is a sense of intimacy between this divine presence and the mother and child. Yet, the congregation is also actively engaged as witness and participant. Perhaps those walking in the background have just come from the river. Or maybe they are simply people passing by. Either way, I sense that the ritual of baptism and the nurture of the congregation exists not in isolation, but in the context of the wider world. Baptism is something we live day to day. This practice is nurtured and formed by our church experience, but it is also grounded and supported by everyone who makes up our unique circles of community.
Sometimes, I get stuck in either/ or thinking. Either Baptism is something God does or something we do. Either it is an intimate family moment or a communal, congregational event. Either it is about nurturing faith or it is about supporting families. But obviously, baptism is a both/ and. It is about all of these things.
Here is the promise we ask of our Godparents/ Sponsors:
To the Godparents/ Sponsors: do you welcome this child into the circle of your love, promising to nurture her/his spirit, in whatever way is most appropriate for you? And do you promise to the parents your support and prayers as they do their best in the awesome, worrisome, rewarding work that parenting is?
I like the way that this promise leaves room for many types of interaction, even while laying out the essential work: being a Godparent or Sponsor is about nurturing a family’s spirit.