Today, I ask you this question: Who are Fred and Ethel Mertz in your life?
You may have fond memories of Fred and Ethel, the owners of a New York brownstone apartment building and best friends with their neighboring tenants, Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, on the “I Love Lucy Show.” Who could forget the zany antics of this foursome on the beloved television sitcom from the 1950s?
Today marks the seventieth anniversary, January 19, 1953, when sixty-eight percent of all televisions in the U.S. tuned to CBS-TV when Lucy gave birth to a baby boy. Our nation welcomed the fictional character Enrique Alberto Ricardo IV, better known as Little Ricky, into our world. Also born that day, in real life, was Desi Arnaz, Jr., the child of the show’s lead actors, Desi Arnaz, Sr. and Lucille Ball.
With the arrival of the new character on the sitcom, the adventures and plots of the show’s comedic adventures had to adjust accordingly. The friend/landlord partners to the new parents took on an additional role for the baby: Fred and Ethel became Godparents to Little Ricky.
During our Christian baptismal vows, we invite the sponsors – Godparents – to promise to nurture the newly baptized in the Christian faith as empowered by God’s Spirit and to help them live in the covenant of baptism and in communion with the church. We encourage all gathered to support the newly baptized and pray for their new life in Christ. The responsibility of a Christian witness to baptism is a profound honor and a daunting undertaking.
Although Fred and Ethel were fictional characters, their Godparent role for Little Ricky was as significant as what our baptismal witnesses were called to provide for us. Whether standing beside you at the baptismal font or supporting you anytime during your faith journey, many have helped keep us focused on our mission as servants to the Lord. So, who are your Fred and Ethel?
This Sunday, we encourage you to remember the words spoken at baptism. Those gathered vowed to live among God’s faithful people, bringing the baptized to God’s word and the holy supper. We invite you to affirm your baptismal calling. Join us for worship this Sunday, January 22nd, at 8:00 AM (spoken liturgy), 10:15 AM (tradition).