Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that people yet unborn may praise the Lord. --Psalm 102:18
Many of us know some variation of the proverb, "The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit." As I think of that through the lens of faith, I am reminded that, though we await the reign of God's peace on earth, we may not see it in our lifetimes. Some of us have walked many miles for freedom, but the end of the journey is near, and we prepare to take our eternal rest. Some of us will spend the rest of our lives planting seeds of justice that will bloom only after our bodies have returned to the earth. Our efforts are not in vain.
For we hope, not only for ourselves, but also for the generations to come. We lift up our prayers, and offer our gifts today because we believe in a future when captives will be freed, violence will cease, and the hungry will be fed. We pray and act, knowing that while we are finite, our God is eternal, and the day is coming when all people will rest secure in the presence of the Lord.
One of the ways we live this out is through the sacrament of baptism. When a child or adult is baptized, many of our congregations make explicit vows:
Do you promise to nurture is child, this man, this woman into the life of faith? We do.
Others may express their assent differently, through some other ritual, maybe a prayer or song. When I was six years old, I was baptized at a little Baptist church, down in Mobile, AL. One of the customs in that church was that, as all the people were being baptized, the choir and the congregation would sing a chorus or two over and over again until everyone had been baptized. As I remember it, on the day of my baptism, they were singing:
Walk in the Light! The beautiful Light! Walk where the dew drops of mercy shine bright! Shine all around us by day and by night! Jesus is the light of the world!
They didn't know down which particular paths life would take me. But they knew that, along the way, I was going to see some darkness. And they wanted me to remember that they were there to help me recognize the light that no darkness would ever overcome.
Like the generations that have gone before us, may we in our witness provide a living record of the hope we have, so that those who follow may praise the Lord.
Gracious God, we lift up prayers for peace and justice, knowing that the work that has begun will be completed. Give us the strength to labor on, so that the world may see glimpses of your reign of peace today. Amen.