The ageless gift of new life in baptism
I received a most interesting phone call in the third week of October from a fellow Lutheran who lives in the eastern U.S. He asked if I would consider baptizing his elderly mother, who resides with her husband in a Cheyenne care facility and is afflicted with a terminal illness.
He described her as a timid person, who was concerned about what kind of speaking part might be expected of her at a baptism. He had assured her that “I do” was probably all that would be required! What was most important was she indeed wished to be baptized.
The son explained he was raised in a household that identified as Christian but was not really connected to a congregation. Eventually, through marriage, he had opportunity to attend an ELCA church, where he became an active member and just completed a term as congregational president. Now, he had become an advocate for his mother and hoped to return for her baptism.
I responded I’d be happy to officiate, citing the story in Acts in which the Ethiopian eunuch asked the apostle Phillip, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” and Philip answered by baptizing him on the spot! What could prevent a 91-year-old woman at late age and stage of illness from being baptized? Not a thing—assuming the availability of water!
On the morning after arriving in Cheyenne, the devoted son met me at my office. He was a most cordial and interesting guest with whom to become acquainted and make baptismal plans. At mid-afternoon, I rang the bell to his parents’ apartment, laden with a fluted Pyrex bowl, bottle of water, hand towel, hymnal, beeswax taper and certificate. The baptismal candidate had her hair done and was nicely dressed for the occasion.
The son and his sister served as their mother’s baptismal sponsors. The husband was hospitable and approving; his Catholic upbringing surfaced as he joined in the Creed from memory. His wife leaned forward in her wheelchair, over the bowl of water held by her son, as I baptized her. Her husband held the lit candle in front of her, and she had just enough breath to blow it out.
Ascension has gained a new member who is also an old member, whose tenure with us will be unusually brief. Indeed, it is unlikely she will be able to be present with us in this worship space. Yet, she is our full-fledged sister in Christ, and her experience serves to remind us that grace has no residency requirements or dues.
Let us keep her in our prayers, beginning today. Let us pray for the hospice workers who will attend her, for her children, for her husband of 67 years. And, let us rejoice that Fern is to be counted among the faithful, having received the ageless gift of new life in Christ.
Pastor Wes Aardahl
WELCA Bible study slated for November 14
For November, WELCA will meet Tuesday, November 14, at 9:30 a.m. Normally, the women’s group meets the third Tuesday of every month, but because of Thanksgiving, it will be held one week earlier. For questions or more information, contact Shirley Toppenberg at 634-4946.
Two opportunities for Bible study continue
Two opportunities for continuing spiritual education are being offered at Ascension.
Vicar Katelin is leading an adult forum at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays through November 5 titled “By Heart, Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.” Books are provided, but an $11 donation is welcomed. For information, contact the vicar at 517-416-4811.
In the middle of the week, a Bible study is being held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. Bring your Bible to study the Gospel of Mark. For information, contact the pastor or vicar.
Birthday Party for Jesus to be December 2
Sunday School students are invited to the Birthday Party for Jesus on Saturday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Youngsters will make seasonal crafts and practice the Christmas Sunday School program. Lunch will be provided along with cupcakes and ice cream. If you would like to assist in any way, contact Jo Hobbs at 638-1512.
The Sunday School children will sing the postlude on Sunday, November 19. The Sunday School Christmas program will be part of the Saturday service on December 16.
Family Promise money sought for December
The next Family Promise rotation, shared rotation with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, will be in late December. “Plans are being made by St. Paul’s to house families in a motel at least a portion of the Christmas week, December 24–31,” Ascension coordinator Margie Sewell said. “If anyone is willing to donate, please let me know by mid-December when we need to have a collection accounting. The parent program will also provide some funds.”
Church to host Chamber Singers’ concert
Ascension Lutheran Church will be the site of the Cheyenne Chamber Singers’ concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 5. Called “A Time for Grace,” this concert is the first of four for the 2017–2018 season. The others are “A Time for Peace,” “A Time for Compassion” and “A Time for Joy.”
The performance will feature “The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace,” a song cycle of 21 original musical rounds, each a fugue of positive messages or modern mantras intended to transform and uplift singers and audiences alike. The “Book of Rounds” was composed by the October Project, a collaboration that features award-winning composer Emil Adler, poet/lyricist Julie Flanders and lead vocalist Marina Belica.
With a live world premiere performed by Chorus Austin in 2016, “The Book of Rounds” is being embraced by professional, university (Yale Camerata) and community choirs around the world as well as in hospice (The Threshold Choir) and a cappella (The Yale Whiffenpoofs).
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors/students.