For Talitha at Her Baptism
Last night brought to an end a 27-year tradition. I baptized my last child and read for her the last baptismal poem. May the Lord keep her with sovereign grace (Jude 1:24-25).
The Lord himself once stood
With John the Baptist in the river, just
The way you stand with me
Tonight, the Son of Man with perfect trust,
Required of us, as if a spotless Lamb
Should there repent, as if,
Immersed and hushed, the great I AM
Could choose to sink in death
And bury there alone in the abyss
Our sin, a parable
Of love and hope and suffering—and this.
And now you stand with me
Tonight in these strange waters, full of death,
And put your hand in mine
To lay you down, as if in sleep, one breath
Away from heaven’s gate,
As I have done three thousand times, since you
Were eight weeks old. But now
To signify not sleep but death, and through
This happy grave, to rise
Not this time into one more fading day,
But everlasting life.
And so tonight, dear Talitha, I pray:
God grant that you would live
Forever in the faith that makes you one
With Jesus Christ, and takes
You into death with him, and life, where none
Can pluck you from his hand
Or undo what the risen Lord has done.
And when the time should come
That I, though he has called me precious son,
Must once more be immersed
In death, fear not, this is no final threat
To me or you, but take
My hand in hope, as you do now, and let
Me draw my final breath,
And enter heaven’s gate assured of this:
That you will follow me
Someday and greet me with a holy kiss.