Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Happy Baptism Anniversary!
God's saving grace is available to all people.
Five years ago, on February 20th, my children were baptized. This is a day for rejoicing and I was careful to remind them of the importance of the day. On that day, Erik and Kristiana:
became disciples of Jesus Christ;
were born again of water and the Spirit;
had their sins forgiven and washed away;
were baptized into Christ, into His death and resurrection;
became new creations;
put on Christ;
were cleansed and sanctified by the washing of water with the word; and
were saved by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
In a word, they were saved.
(This list was lovingly compiled by John H. of Confessing Evangelical in commemoration of his son's baptism recently.)
The funniest thing of all is that God accomplished all this and I didn't even fully believe it at the time. I was beginning to suspect that God had more power than I had realized, but scripture wouldn't fully convict me for a couple more years.
My kids' baptism day also has special meaning for me. It is a day of joy, certainly...but it is also a day of shame for me. It is a day that forces me to remember my sin in withholding God's power from my children. Despite their requests and admonitions from my husband, mother, mother-in-law and my pastor, I kept them from the saving waters of Holy Baptism.
I had struggled with the purpose of baptism for 20 years! Since my own weak christian training didn't teach me that we are powerless to choose faith apart from the Holy Spirit and that Jesus commanded baptism of all people without mention of age, I hesitated to baptize my own children. I rationalized that even though I was baptised, my own faith didn't mature until I was 20 years old. My wish for mature faith for my children led me to the wrong conclusion that I should have my children wait for baptism until they made their own profession of faith. Thankfully, I did not neglect teaching them God's word and soon I realized that they were Christians through the power of God's Word.
Then it became a game of "Well, when are they old enough to be baptized?". Obviously, that method never gives an answer because children are still children and their faith will never seem mature for years to come. At what point can any of us say about ourselves or our children that faith is now mature and the person is ready for baptism? In those twenty years (before and after having children) of church searching, NO pastor (ELCA, independent, Baptist, Evan. Free, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Covenant, CMA, LCMS) ever told me what the bible truly says about baptism. In fact, pastors in each of these denominations commended me for waiting until my children were ready, that baptism was merely symbolic. During our adult catechism at our new church, I was overwhelmed with my enormous sense of guilt at keeping my children from holy baptism. I did repent of my sin and asked my husband's forgiveness, but I still can't believe how misguided I was.
Now, five years later we just rejoice in the day. In fact, we rejoice in our baptisms every day. That is the true beauty and purpose of baptism, to be remembered and lived in every moment of our lives.