Anytime the church has the opportunity to sharing in the sacrament of Holy Baptism with a child in the church it is an opportunity for thanksgiving! Today I had the privilege of baptizing a beautiful little girl into the church as her parents shared in her baptismal vows and friends and relatives looked on. I got to introduce her to her new church family and give thanks for the grace of God that is poured out on her in baptism.
For me it also was special for another reason. This was my first opportunity to perform a baptism since receiving my first appointment in the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. If you’ve read my blog you would know that I had previously served as a pastor in the American Baptist denomination where immersion baptism of professing members is the normal practice.
So you might wonder how it felt to baptize an infant for the first time. Well, it was a wonderful experience! It was a wonderful experience because infant baptism is such a powerful picture of God’s love and prevenient grace. In a Wesleyan understanding of baptism the sacrament is a gift from God and not an act of the candidate for baptism. God loves all of us, and like a helpless infant, we are unable to understand God’s love fully or at times to even respond to it. But God loves us simply because we are his children.
In truth when we act like we can fully explain, comprehend, or describe God’s love we’ve forgotten that the salvation we have in Jesus Christ is from God who is beyond our full understanding. The purpose of baptism isn’t to understand or comprehend God’s love. The purpose of baptism is to receive God’s love and, when we are able, to accept it.
It was also a wonderful experience because there is nothing quite like welcoming children into God’s house and sharing the joy that new parents have at the birth of a new and precious life. Jesus loved children and welcomed them into his presence and told us that they are a part of the Kingdom of God and that if we want to be a part of God’s kingdom we better be ready to accept God as a child. What that means to me is that we accept Christ with child like joy accepting God’s love even though God’s grace and love is sometimes beyond our understanding.
Remember your baptism and be thankful!