God, who is rich in mercy and love, gives us a new birth into a living hope through the sacrament of baptism. By water and the Word God delivers us from sin and death and raises us to new life in Jesus Christ. We are united with all the baptized in the one body of Christ, anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and joined in God's mission for the life of the world.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the service of Holy Baptism, pg. 227
|My grandson at his baptism, July 2005|
On my dresser is a small white book, a daily reminder that I am a child of God. The book, entitled “Given to God”, copyright 1906, is a keepsake from my baptism on the 12th day of April, 1953.
The pages prefacing the order of service contain the following:
The parents who do not understand the blessing that has come to them in their little one are missing a revealing as glorious as the burning bush, before which Moses was bidden to take off his shoes.
A revealing as glorious as the burning bush - reading that was almost a revelation. Is anyone more in awe of God’s power than new parents? But soon that awe is overshadowed by the fatigue that accompanies the early years of parenting and the busy schedules that follow as the children grow. Reading those words years later, from the perspective of a grandmother, I am struck anew with the glory of God revealing himself in the gift and blessing of new life.
It is a holy moment when a baby is laid in the arms of a mother and father. One speaks out of the holy silence and says, “Take this child and guard, teach, and train it for Me.” The parents are to be their children’s angels. It is not easy to be an angel to a little child either in the home or in the world outside. Sin is everywhere. Many a beautiful young life is wounded in the battles with temptation. Very sacred therefore is the parents’ part in guarding their children’s lives.”
It is not easy. . .there isn’t a parent who would disagree. Our children are wounded not only by their own battles with temptation but often they are the innocent victims of the battles of others. The hearts of parents are wounded when the children are wounded. But when parents guard, teach, and train their children, the children are sent out into the world with conviction, strength of character, compassion, and a love for God and His creation. They are sent out to be blessings to others. And if - when - they are wounded, God’s love and the love of their parents are healing salves.
St. Paul assures us that the children of the faithful are to be numbered among the holy people of God. Our Saviour also, in the Gospel, calls the children unto Him, and blesses them, saying: Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for such is the Kingdom of God.
My parents were asked and answered "yes" to the question “Do you accept, for yourself and for your child, the covenant of God, and therein consecrate your child to Him?”
They promised to instruct me “in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures”, to pray with me, and to bring me “up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The minister prayed:
“Grant, O Lord, to these Thy servants grace to perform the things which they have promised before Thee:
And sanctify with Thy Spirit this child now to be baptized according to Thy Word through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The water was poured; I was baptized in the “Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
With God’s grace, my parents fulfilled the promises they made that April day so many years ago. They taught me and and my siblings by their words and example what it meant to live lives of faith. They guarded, taught, and trained me. When I was wounded they wept with me and loved me. Through them I first knew the love of God.
I know that the sacrament of baptism was a beginning. I must affirm my baptism every day by asking God's forgiveness and beginning anew. This little book reminds me of that.