What does generosity have to do with Baptism?
A couple weeks ago, Lara Greene and I led our semiannual Baptism class where seven families came together for learning and discussion about having a child in their family baptized. I’ve also been meeting with two adults in our congregation who are preparing to be baptized. Meanwhile, in the midst of these meetings and conversations, our congregation has been steeping in the spiritual practice of generosity, asking what it means to live “abundant” lives.
All of this has me thinking about the connection between Baptism and Generosity.
In our Baptism class, we ask parents of infants and young children to discuss what kind of person they would like their child to be 18 years from now. Often, these parents are knee-deep in baby food and diaper cream and they haven’t had time or inclination to consider the character qualities they hope to cultivate in their children but, within a few moments, parents come up with several great ideas. Without fail, someone in each class always states the hope that their child will grow to become a generous person.
The United Methodist Statement on Baptism affirms, “Baptism is the means of entry into new life in Christ.” As Methodists we believe that, through grace, God is making the whole world new, and in Baptism, we are incorporated into that work. The word we give that process is regeneration. Regeneration, generosity—these words share a common Indo-European root (genƏ-) that is all about giving birth, creating, begetting. Both Baptism and generosity are, at their core, about making something new possible, and both begin with God.
When we are generous, we take our resources and employ them toward some other end in hopes that they will create a new opportunity—for life change, for peacemaking, for friendship, for an encounter with God. We give away something that is neutral—money, time—and, in the act of giving, it becomes generative; it creates a new possibility. That generosity is an expression of the original regeneration God begins in Baptism. God opens the possibility that our lives can be more than neutral; because we are brought into God’s new-world-making work, our very lives become a gift.
In the coming months, we’ll get to ooh and ahh and marvel at the Baptism of persons both small and tall, young and…less young. We’ll see God’s generosity on display by water and the Spirit, generating new life and new possibility, inviting the church to further invest in ministry that will shape and reshape lives that are marked by the generosity of our God, lives that make new things possible, lives that, by God’s grace, transform the world.
Is there anything better?
P.S. Generosity begets celebration and new life in community. Don’t forget that we need you to register for the Churchwide Celebration Picnic happening this Sunday in the Great Hall of the Family Life Center! Details and registration link are below.
Churchwide Celebration Picnic
October 21, 12:15 p.m., FLC Great Hall
We will celebrate our ministry and growth in generosity at a churchwide picnic. Bring your picnic blanket and come prepared to purchase lunch. This year’s picnic will have advance purchase lunch options from Central Market. Have a favorite outdoor game to share? Feel free to bring games— washers, kickball, or even frisbees— as we gather for fellowship and fun! Registration requested by Thursday, October 18 at fumcaustin.org/picnic.