We are happy to welcome back and celebrate with Storypath guest author Anna V. Ostenso Moore as she shares ways to use her new book that is being published on September 15, 2018.
One of the joys of my ministry is working with people of all ages preparing for baptism. When I accompany parents preparing to say “yes” to baptism for their children, I am aware that the Holy moment when their child is baptized is one of deep hope for parents. And although it is parents and godparents who say “yes” to baptism for their children, it is by God’s grace, which often is a Holy Mystery, that their children receive the gift of adoption into God’s family. This moment is a moment for every day after – meant to guide, transform, challenge, and inspire our lives and our children’s lives forever.
And so one of my questions becomes: what tools do I, and the church, provide for families to explore and practice their baptism at home and in their lives? In wondering about this question, I have noticed that picture books are consistent handouts that parents are happy to receive and use at home. Over the years, I have created a library of baptism picture books that I lend or give away.
A few years ago, as I was sitting with a group of parents preparing for their children’s baptism, I noticed that the books I usually hand out (although excellent in artistry and content) did not reflect the families in the room where I sat. After months of searching to no avail for a baptism book that filled this need, I created Today Is a Baptism Day. I hope it both reflects the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom and inspires the question of how does our baptism inspire our lives.
Illustrated by Peter Krueger, the book follows five families through their baptisms. A dedication page encourages personalization of the book, and a family section suggests ways to go deeper in conversation about baptism. It is designed for use within our faith communities and homes. Here are a few suggestions for its use within faith communities:
Send it home with your families
I originally created Today Is a Baptism Day to be a book to send home with the parents with whom I work. Parents are especially receptive if there is an older sibling of the soon-to-be-baptized, who may not remember their own baptism. Reading a book as a family provides vocabulary to talk about baptism with that older sibling.
Parents do not need more than encouragement to read baptism picture books as a family during storytime. However, to go deeper, they may also enjoy reading about how to integrate conversation about God and faith in their usual family storytime.
If additional homework is a part of your baptism preparation program, consider assigning some of the activities on the family pages. Invite every family member to share their baptism stories with one another. Include godparents, grandparents and other important people in this practice. Encourage families to put all family members’ baptisms in their calendar and talk about how they are going to acknowledge baptism anniversaries every year.
If you are gifting Today Is a Baptism Day, personalize it. Inscribe the dedication page and invite people important to the family and people in the faith community to write memories, prayers, and hopes for the newly baptized on the page in the back of the book. Put the book out during post-baptism receptions or coffee hour so that it is easily accessible for everyone present at the baptism.
Recommend or hand out other baptism picture books too:
- Welcome Child of God by Anne Ylvisaker
- At Your Baptism by Carrie Steenwyk and John D. Witvliet
- Water Come Down by Walter Wangerin Jr.
My hope is that Today Is a Baptism Day is one voice of many when wondering about baptism. Each book listed provides a unique perspective.
Read it out loud
Reading picture books can be a powerful experience for all ages. Read Today Is a Baptism Day in baptism preparation class, Sunday school, or other baptism formation opportunities.
When I read picture books to a group, I employ the same technique Godly Play storytellers use of looking at the book until the end. This practice draws the attention to the story and illustrations rather than to the storyteller. Others readers hand out copies of books to those listening and encourage them to follow along. Others engage listeners by asking questions as they read.
When the story ends, I look at the listeners and use wondering statements (also adapted from Godly Play): I wonder what part of this story you liked best. I wonder what part of this story you could do without and still have the whole story. I wonder where you are in this story.
Give listeners time to answer. If and when they answer, flip to the page that corresponds to their answer and repeat their statement. If no one answers, hold quiet and space for everyone to wonder silently.
For individual response time, focus on the five pages that are about personal daily responses to baptism; those pages begin with “I will…” The illustrations accompanying the “I will…” statements represent some of the many ways to interpret these statements. Provide art supplies and encourage listeners to draw, write, or in other ways represent what those actions would look like in their lives. Afterward invite, but do not require, participants to share their work. Consider displaying this work on a bulletin board with the corresponding “I will…” statements.
Include it in worship bags or baskets
If your worship bags or baskets also include coloring pages, download a couple corresponding illustrations to color from my website.
Above all, I hope this book will be enjoyed, spark imagination, and encourage conversation.
We are happy to welcome Anna V. Osenso Moore back as a guest writer for Storypath and we celebrate with her the publication of Today is Baptism Day. Anna spent years reading a picture book in worship every Sunday, wondering where God was within the words and images. She is currently the associate for family ministries at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis. Wife, priest, daughter, sister, aunt, godparent, friend, and expectant adoptive mother, she lives in Minneapolis with her husband, David. www.annavostensomoore.com
Today is a Baptism Day by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.