Our fathers trusted in you; they trusted, and you rescued them (Psalm 22:4, CSB)
I look at this picture, and I have to agree with my dad. How many Bartholomews in the course of 500 years have been baptized at this font? So much history of faith happened here. Weddings and funerals that happened in front of the altar. God’s grace being distributed in, with, and under the bread and wine.
Even though the Bartholomews have over 500 years of history, it is only a minor (maybe even seemingly insignificant) part in the story of God’s creation.
Why mention it then? Why share this part? Simply because of Scripture’s view of the historical and family tradition of faith. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, how did God introduce himself? He could have said, “Yo! I’m the Big Guy upstairs.” Or he could have said, “Hi, I’m God.”
Instead he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6b, CSB)
Who we are is important to God. Our history, our heritage, our past. The Israelites didn’t always have the best of histories. They had their fair share of oppressive nations being over them. They also had brought some of the hardships upon themselves. They also enjoyed the riches of God’s promise. And that’s why God introduced himself to his people as “I am the God of your father.” He wants to draw them back to the promise he made to Abraham, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and that they will have a home of their own in the land flowing with milk and honey.
And when I see this baptismal font in this picture and even look at our own font in our own church at Redeemer Lutheran, I am reminded of God’s introduction to Israel. It’s the same introduction he gives to us, “I am the God of your father.”
“I am the God of your father….” Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt [sin], and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians [sin, death, and the devil] and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:6b, 7-8, CSB; bracket words mine).
He greets each of us in this way, as the sanctified and consecrated water is poured over our heads with the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This promise he has remembered is his own Son, Jesus who has given up his life to rescue you, and to bring you into the same family of faith as the God of your father.
Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
(Faith of our fathers, holy faith!)
(We will be true to thee till death).
-Frederick William Faber, 1849