National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

I never say no

August 2014

by Peter Ghalayini

To baptise or to not baptise – that is often a question that vexes the pastor.

The phone rings. It’s a person you’ve never heard from before.

‘Hi, my family are Lutherans and we want our baby christened. What do I have to do?’

I have never said ‘no’ to a request for baptism.

Maybe that’s because my own baptism is very special to me. It is a critical part of my faith walk with God that first led me to worship at the age of 19 and then to be ordained as a Lutheran pastor.

Just as any parent would not stop searching for a missing child, this becomes the challenge for the church—to search for her child that has gone missing

 

My mother (a German Lutheran) and my father (a Lebanese Muslim) came separately to Australia in the early fifties as part of the post-war assisted migration program.

They met here, got married and had three children.

The question came: what to do about the children’s religion?

Although a Muslim, my father felt we’d have more opportunities as Christians, so I was baptised in 1960 in Trinity German Lutheran Church, East Melbourne.

The next time I entered a church would be in 1979 when, searching for answers to the big questions of life, I walked into St Paul’s Lutheran Church Box Hill. Why a Lutheran church?

Because I remembered being told I was baptised in a Lutheran church. That day I walked into St Paul’s Box Hill was the beginning of a life-long journey in faith, including some years at Luther Seminary, studying for my ordination.

At Ringwood/Knox Lutheran parish, where I am the pastor, we have an annual baptism remembrance celebration, where we invite our baptised members to worship with us and receive a baptism blessing. During the service they come forward to the font to be splashed again with the life-giving waters of baptism and to hear Jesus’ clear, sure promise, ‘Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved’ (Mark 16:16).

This year at Ringwood we adorned the altar with symbols of baptism: blue shawls draped over the cross and … because God said yes to me Just as any parent would not stop searching for a missing child, this becomes the challenge for the church—to search for her child that has gone missing