Celebrating The Longest Relationship


Post Author: Sarah Moore


Over the trajectory of our lives, what are the longest and most enduring relationships we are likely to experience?  With our parents?  Our partner?  Our children?  For those of us who are not ‘only’ children, the longest relationships we are likely to hold are those with our sisters and brothers.  Siblings are perhaps the most significant repositories of our life stories outside of ourselves and those other intimate and key relationships we create and nurture for ourselves.  Who else has memory of early years, growing up, young adulthood, who observes our forming loving partnerships with another, who might be appointed a guardian of our own children should the unthinkable occur and who holding all this story will accompany a person into old age?  While some friendships do endure for life, many arise either for a reason or for a season.  While some families do become estranged, it is unusual for a person to lose contact entirely with their sisters and brothers.

Both realising this reality and arising from a pastoral wish to involve all members of a family, it has long been a regular practice of mine to offer the option of a promise or set of promises for older siblings to make when a baby is brought to church and welcomed into the Christian community at baptism or dedication.  It has never felt pastorally comfortable (to me) when older brothers and sisters are left on the sidelines of the church’s liturgy, with more emphasis on the role of godparents than on the longest relationship the baby is likely to experience and enjoy.

Celebrating the Longest Relationship PhotoThis particular set of affirmations was prepared for a nine year old girl, Holly, to make at the baptism of Daisy, her younger sister.  It accompanies A Service for Infant Baptism written by Alan Paterson and published by The United Reformed Church, Additional Material, ‘Worship: from The United Reformed Church’ (London: The United Reformed Church, 2004).

Affirmations for an older sister

 

Minister: 

We read in the Bible of sisters and brothers

some who were together friends of Jesus,

the fishermen James and John

Mary, Martha and Lazarus,

whose home he visited.

We hear of others,

Moses, Miriam and Aaron

who journeyed together

even though they

did not know exactly

where they were going.

Holly, will you try

to always be a friend and helper to Daisy?

 

Holly: 

I will

 

Minister:

We heard too in the Bible

about some sisters and brothers

who did not get on so well together;

of Jacob who took

what belonged to his brother Esau,

and of Joseph of the amazing coat

whose brothers

sold him to a foreign land.

Holly, when Daisy annoys you

or when you don’t agree

on what is right,

will you try to be patient and understanding?

 

Holly: 

I will

 

Minister:

We celebrate the stories of the times

sisters and brothers helped each other

to know Jesus for themselves.

The Gospel writers remembered

how Andrew introduced

his brother Simon to Jesus

and how brothers James and John

followed Jesus’ call together.

Holly, will you try to follow the example of Jesus’ friends

and will you share with Daisy

everything that you have learned here at chapel

about how Jesus invites all of us to follow him

and will you look forward to a time

when you and Daisy can learn about

God, family and community together?

 

Holly:

I will


Sarah Moore is a minister of the United Reformed Church currently serving as President of the Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church.  She is excited by inclusive and creative ways of being the Christian community and engaging in Christ’s mission.  Sarah lives in Cumbria, England.   With thanks to Alan Paterson for his liturgy for Infant Baptism and to Holly’s and Daisy’s family for permission to use their photograph.

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