Sunday, June 24, 2007

Camp and Emma's Baptism

Sunday we had worship at St Petri, Oak Park, and Nazareth.

Today was a big day for Jeremy, Matthew, and Louisa. Camp Day! It's Louisa's first time at Bible Camp. They're all excited. It was a devoted chaos getting ready so that Mary could drive them down to Luther Island Camp, where the ELS Camp Indianhead is held this year.

We weren't able to get Mat a digital camera, he'll just have to make due with the two disposable's Mary bought him. If I can, I may scan a few in if they want to tell their camp stories.

Mid afternoon was Emma Amanda Mae N.'s baptism. The photo has Emmas' parents and older brother with Emma's sponsor/witnesses.

Here's something for Confessional Lutheran Pastors to chew on. What is Sponsorship? Three decades ago and further back the sponsors would become the guardians of the child should his/her parent die. Not so any more. Parents need to have a will in place and the general knowledge of who the guardians of their children will be. Baptismal sponsorship plays no role in the court's decision on guardianship. So, what kind of vows can a Confessional Lutheran Pastor legitimately ask the sponsors to take upon themselves without making the sponsors swear a false oath?

Mary and I have Char and Dave as the sponsors for all of our children and they are in our will as our children's guardians should we die. Our family knows this and accepts this. But sponsorship has become a way to honor friends and family members these days. At best, sponsors can serve as witnesses to the baptism and may be asked to encourage the child to persist in learning the Gospel of Christ.

The problem is that we live in a pagan society, no matter how many polls show how religious the U.S.A. is.

So, do sponsors have to be of the same confession of faith as the child? Well, if the sponsors are not Christians they can only serve as witnesses, they cannot be bound to raise the child in the Christian faith. So, yes, the sponsors should be Christians. Should the sponsors be Lutheran? Well, if the sponsors deny the means of grace (as do most of the protestant and reformed denominations) there is no sense in having them serve as anything more than witnesses to the baptism. Should the sponsors be of the exact same confession and fellowship as the baptized child? What are we asking the sponsors to do? Especially consider the vows that some ask of sponsors if the parents should die. Can any sponsor reasonably be expected to keep such a vow? Only if they are the legally appointed guardians as well.

Some pastors have split families and congregations on fellowship issues with regard to baptismal sponsors and demanded oaths of sponsors that they cannot truly be expected to fulfill. Unless the sponsors are the legal guardians as designated in the parents' will, there is no need to treat sponsors as anything other than witnesses. And there is nothing other than sin to ask the sponsors to swear about ensuring the child is raised in the Lutheran Faith if the sponsors do not have the legal authority to do this.

For the Confessional Lutheran Pastors out there, how many of the sponsors you have asked to swear such oaths before God and His Church are realistically able to perform their oaths? Sponsorship is not a teaching of Scripture, there is no need to split a congregation or family over it, nor is there a need to cause people to swear falsely. Treat baptismal sponsors as witnesses to the baptism unless you know for sure that those sponsors are the legal guardians of the child and have the ability to perform what the oaths demand of them.

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