Are there any Lord of the Rings fans here this morning? I want to show a brief scene from the first movie in the series, “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
The regal looking woman in white is Galadriel, the elf queen. It is interesting how her mirror ritual resembles baptism. She fills her silver pitcher from a living stream of water, and pours into a basin that looks very much like a baptismal font.
This is not totally surprising. J.R.R. Tolkien, the creator of the Lord of the Rings was a committed Christian. He was also a close friend of C.S. Lewis, whose Chronicles of Narnia use themes and elements drawn from Christian faith. In Lord of the Rings, and in Narnia, we are presented with fantasy worlds, and stories that deeply touch the human heart, because they are about loyalty and love, about life and death, about hope and despair, and about the conflict between good and evil. They are about falsehood and truth, and the importance of being able to discern the difference. They are about the importance of knowing who you are, and who you are meant to be.
Galadriel invites Frodo to look into the mirror, which will show him, “Things that were, things that are, and some things that have not yet come to pass.”
Our baptismal font is not Galadriel’s mirror- but it does give a glimpse into the past. For over two thousand years Christians have been baptizing and blessing, and welcoming people into our own travelling fellowship- our community of those who seek to follow the ways of Jesus. Gathering, and praying, and hoping and blessing are ancient practices of faithful people.
Our actions at the font also offer us a glimpse into each other’s hearts in the present time, as we join with the child and her family in a moment of blessing. We pray for this young life, and for those who are responsible for her. We offer support, and encouragement, and we make promises. We promise to continue to be here as a church- to keep being a community that takes seriously the message of Jesus, the love of God, and the ongoing guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Gathered at the baptismal font, we may also get a glimpse of ourselves as God sees us- beloved members of God’s family. God sees our worth, our purpose, our identity, differently than we do ourselves, and differently than the world does.
In the midst of a world that seems ruled by darker forces- by economics and politics, by selfishness, and lust for power, and by insecurity and mistrust- we promise to represent another path- a way of life rooted in light, and love and hope, in compassion and fairness, in openness and gentleness.
As we gathered at the font, our attention was also on the future. Maeve is at the beginning of her earthly life. She has so much ahead of her.
As a parent, I can remember standing at the font with our babies. Filled with hope and pride, and desire to do the right things, to help direct and shape a young life. A bit fearful that I did not really know what I was doing. Grateful to have a community of faith around me, and loving and wise friends and family standing with me.
Our font does not work exactly like the mirror in Galadriel’s cave. We don’t get to see how Maeve will grow up, or exactly what her life will be like, or who she will love, or what she will see and do. We can’t see what journeys she will go on, and what battles she will fight. We may crave those details, but they are not forthcoming. What we are offered instead is a glimpse of the promise that wherever her life’s journey, her quest takes her, God will be with her.
God’s promise to always be with us can offer us hope and comfort, even, and probably especially in times of uncertainty. When we don’t know exactly how things are going to turn out, it is important to know who we are, and who is with us. God’s presence with us can help us make the right choices.