I was recently invited by my son and his pastor to baptize my grandson. As it was infant baptism, I cradled that little boy in my left arm and held his head in the palm of my hand. As I poured water over his forehead, his blue eyes looked penetratingly into mine, and it was as if he were saying, “This is an important moment, isn’t it granddaddy?”
It is not likely those were my infant grandson’s thoughts, but they surely were mine. This baptism was for him the beginning point of a life destined for a full and rich relationship with God. My grandson’s parents and Godparents vowed to point him continually toward God such that he grows in the Lord as he grows in years.
One of their duties will be to reveal to this young man a rhythm and cadence to his life that will weave his life into the very life of God. Our lives, of course, have a natural cadence. We rise to work and rest in the evening. We work for six days and turn aside from our labors on the seventh. We live our lives according to the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives, from childhood to old age.
We Christians, however, teach our children to overlay this rhythm of life with another rhythm.
One of the first rhythms of life we teach our children is to pray at meals and kneel at their bedside each evening. The God-ordained weekly rhythm we pass on to our children is that of God gathering us in on the Lord’s Day to honor Him. We teach the yearly rhythm of the Christian year which flows year after year between the two great pinnacles of faith, Christmas and Easter. And finally, we teach them to weave God into the rhythm of their entire lives through sacraments and ordinances that become for them touchstones with God, such as my grandson’s baptism.
Sometimes the cadence of our lives is not predictable. We have highs and lows, mountaintop experiences and times of slugging it out in the dark valleys of our lives. We have life-transforming encounters with God, while at other times wander through arid places trusting only in the knowledge that God is on the far side of our current wilderness. Even in our wilderness experiences, however, there is a rhythm as we have many wilderness times to repeatedly find God on the far side.
My grandson’s baptism was, among other things, about taking on this rhythm and cadence that weaves him into the purposes and plans that God has for Him. A life well lived is one that has appropriated this God-given rhythm. It would not make sense to live life to any beat other than the heartbeat of God.
THE REV. ROB HARTLEY IS THE RECTOR OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY IN NORTH AUGUSTA.