Baptismal Identity and the Third Third of Life

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This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries 

Baptism marks you invisibly with God’s own name. From that moment on you have a new identity—one you will keep even when you are 90 or older. You are God’s precious child. 

As God’s child, you are called to “live wet,” that is, to reflect who and whose you are as you remember your baptism. The resources listed here will challenge you as individuals and as a church community to explore what that means in all of life’s seasons. 

General Resources

  • In Our Fundamental Identity Syd Hielema and Irene Bakker explain, through their own experiences, what baptismal identity is all about and why it’s so important. 
  • Christ’s Body Has Big, Long Arms shows baptismal identity in action, both to and with people in the third third of life.
  • In Remembering and Thankful Ken Gehrels describes how discovering the full meaning of baptism led him to thanksgiving and thanks-living. 
  • In The Holy Kiss Joyce Borger offers a moving description of her participation in a baptismal remembrance service.

Especially for Church Leaders and Planners

  • The calls to belong, know and understand, have hope, and feel called and equipped are fully as vital in the third third of life as they are in earlier stages. The concept of these four “Building Blocks of Faith” has been developed by Laura Keeley and Robert Keeley to help churches assess, and where needed to rebuild, their faith formation programs and strategies. Check out the article Building Blocks of Faith ( pages 2-12 in the link) and the free online Building Blocks of Faith Toolkit. Syd Hielema’s article Christ Formed in Us to Bless His World underlines the importance of these strategies. 
  • Remembering Baptism: Living Wet by Joan Huyser-Honig challenges pastors and worship planners to use liturgy to continually remind people who and whose they are. 
  • Community CRC in Kitchener, Ontario, developed a Lenten Series called Living Our Baptism, which further explores the idea of “living wet.”

FOR THOUGHT OR DISCUSSION

  • What changes might you make to your church’s liturgy and practice to remind members regularly to “live wet”?
  • How might remembering our baptism change the way we see people who are in the third third of life?

QUESTIONS?

If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies.

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