Friday, August 24, 2012

Barth on Baptism: Excerpts of Summer Reading Part 1

Amber and I went back and forth when it came to the decision to baptize Noah and Lily. We were both baptized as infants. Actually, I was also baptized as an adult. [1] So when our kids were at the age when most babies in our PCUSA congregation are sprinkled with the sacred and sending waters, we had more than a few conversations.

And I was unsure.

I have always understood baptism as one's profession of faith in Jesus as Lord and the union of the new believer with a particular community of the baptized. It is a human response to the good news of God's once and for all saving action in Christ.

I have also understood baptism as a sign and symbol of God's claim on the baptized. It is God's announcement that "this is my child whom I love and am well pleased."

But which comes first- the human response or God's claim? When is someone old enough to respond? Should we not celebrate the good news that God claims us in Christ before we can even speak a word? But how can someone be baptized into a faith that is not actually their own?

Should we just double-dip everyone?

Is that what confirmation is all about, i.e. when we claim our baptisms and respond to God's already announced claim on us?

So we pondered: should we baptize Noah and Lily as infants or wait until they are old enough to profess faith on their own? Our tradition leaves it up to the parents, recognizing all forms of baptism, i.e. infant or believer's; sprinkling or immersion.

We ultimately decided to have our kids baptized on September 11, 2011 at the ripe age of nearly five months. It was a beautiful and sacred moment when we were able to celebrate, with our church and extended family, God's covenant made with our children and the shared responsibility to raise them in the Way of Jesus until they can claim this faith and covenant as their own.

But I still ponder, have we watered down the significance of baptism when we choose to sprinkle infants? Has baptism as a rite replaced baptism as a calling for new believers? Why is it so infrequent to see adult's baptized within Presbyterian and other mainline congregations? Are we not welcoming new believers into our communities?

I recently read through Barth's, "The Foundation of Christian Life," an excursus on baptism and the final published portion of his Church Dogmatics (Vol. IV.4) before he died in December, 1968 [2]. In this, the Swiss doctor of the church reminds the people of God that in and through our baptisms we become a "bearer of a new name," i.e. the name of Christ (3). We enter into covenanted relationship with all other gathered and scattered baptized as we live into the mission of God in and for the whole world. We join our history with the history of Jesus Christ, who continues to move the faithful forward and into the future redemption of all of creation (13).

Noah and Lily have not quite understood all this yet, despite my occasional whispering Scripture and Dogmatics into their ear. My prayer is one day they will. I also do not regret for a second the decision to baptize our babies versus wait until they are "of age."

Nonetheless, here are some excerpts from what I read recently, with minor commentary on a few surprising statements by the greatest Reformed theologian.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Vacation with Twins: 8 Things We Learned

The past two years have been a whirlwind in the Klimovitz home. And nothing has been more draining and more rewarding than the arrival of our twins, now 16 months old. While we have been blessed beyond belief, sometimes a better way to describe our double-dose introduction to parenthood is survival.

Our journey has been adventurous, joyous, and filled with laughter for sure. But it has not been easy. It is controlled chaos. Every day is an encounter with, what Amber has coined, the "twin-ado." Just take one look at the toy and snack debris in our basement after one afternoon and you will understand.

We often say around here that there is nothing we would rather do than spend time with our kids, but there are a whole lot of things we wish we could do.

Like vacation.

But this year, after a two-year hiatus, we finally got to venture to the beach and spend time away. The four of us made long hauls to Norfolk, VA and Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Yes, the twin-ado made its descent upon Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean beaches.

And we learned many things on our first two summer vacations as a family.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eat Less Chicken? Neighborly Love and the Number 1 Combo


Number 1. No Pickle. American Cheese. Waffle Fries. Lemonade.

Six-piece nugget on the side if I am really hungry.

This has become one of my favorite meals to consume when I am on the go, on the road, or in the mall and craving a chicken sammy with BBQ sauce.

But as the Chick-Fil-A hype continues to build (or weaken), I find myself in a pickle.

Eat Less Chicken?

While I am not sure what the most faithful response to Chick-Fil-A may be, here are a few related rants that I have mulled over with friends, to include youth and adults, gays and straights, liberals and conservatives.

1. Stop Throwing Stones...and Nuggets, too.