God knew we’d need reminders to stop and tell the stories, the stories of God and his people, the story of God’s Son, our own faith stories. First Lutheran Church gives pebbles as reminders to tell the stories…on special occasions… and everyday.
“… What do those stones mean to you?” (Joshua 4:6)
Milestone celebrations connect families to each other and to the church. The following milestones are celebrated during worship services throughout the year. Each of these is preceded by a family-centered event that helps parents and guardians connect children to the faith in which they were baptized.
The Blessing Bowl given to each person who is baptized at First Lutheran Church is meant to be the keeper of the pebbles. Milestones bring God's presence into homes and the rituals of daily life into the congregation. They renew and transform congregations with the mission to "tend the baptismal journey" through all the ages and stages of a life centered in Christ.
Tell the story of your baptisms. Talk about your given names and why they were chosen. On the day of baptism, take lots of pictures, especially with family and sponsors. Consider giving a special gift to your baby to remember the day. Share with your sponsors how grateful you are for their presence in your child’s life and remind them of the importance of their role in their faith life. Pray for God’s guidance as you make these important life promises for your child.
Anniversary of Baptism
Light the baptism candle while you remember the day your child was baptized, look at pictures and remember guests and gifts. Talk about what it means to “let your light shine.” Plan to mark this day each year as your child grows, perhaps with your child’s sponsors. Read about the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3). Visit the First Lutheran Church Library and check out a children’s book on baptism.
First Steps ... entering FaithWalkers
Read together the words from the Service of Holy Baptism, (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 227) and talk about keeping promises. Use the story Bible (that you received from the church for First Step) to read a story, then say a prayer for God’s people as a part of your night-time ritual.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer with your child and encourage him or her to memorize it. Add this to your night-time ritual. Look up the Bible passage where Jesus taught his disciples this prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Display a copy of the Lord’s Prayer in your home.
Talk about the importance of admitting when we do something wrong and how it feels when are forgiven. Tell your child about a time when you were forgiven and when you needed to forgive someone else. When you go to worship, look for the Confession and Forgiveness in the bulletin. As a part of your night-time ritual, make a sign of the cross on your child’s forehead and say, “Remember God always loves and forgives you.”
Parents are invited to learn about the Bible to be given to their child, and to be reminded of their baptismal promise to “place in their child’s hands the Holy Scripture.” The parents come to a meeting and then fulfill that promise in worship. Third-graders and their parents later meet for pizza and to learn more about their Bibles. Third-graders are challenged to read and highlight a verse in every book of the Bible, families are encouraged to read the Bible together at home, and given fun worksheets to help!
Tell your favorite Bible story, then find it using the Bible that you received from the church, and read it together. Spend time each week exploring the Bible highlighting or underlining special verses. Together memorize John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13 (and any other verses that you like).
In worship, we stand for the Apostles’ Creed to show that this is something we, as God’s people, believe in. Use the Luther’s Small Catechism that you receive from the church to learn more about why we believe these things to be true. Say the Apostles’ Creed as a family, maybe at a meal, and encourage family members to memorize it.
Celebrate this day with family, friends and sponsors. Have a meal together. Maybe you could make some bread for them with the recipe you learned during First Communion classes. Take pictures before the worship service. Place your homemade chalice and bowl with your blessing bowl in your home.
Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation)
This is your child’s opportunity to publicly proclaim the baptismal promises that you made for him or her. This also initiates you child into ministry. It is important to understand this is not a graduation from the church. Now is the time to get involved. Find ways for your family to serve others together, worship together and stay connected to your faith.
Prepare your child for leaving your house in a spiritual sense as well. Commit to new ways of staying in touch with faith traditions in the family and the congregation. As your child moves on, help him or her to find a place to worship. Be sure to send along a Bible, the First Lutheran senior recognition quilt and a cross.
Milestones bring God’s presence into the home and the rituals of daily life into the congregation. They renew and transform congregations with the mission to “tend the baptismal journey” through all the ages and stages of a life centered in Christ.