We had a baptism today for one of the happiest babies I think I have ever seen have water splash over her head. I LOVE baptisms — of all ages, for sure, but of children especially. I was thinking today as she was being walked around the Upper Room, being introduced to her church family about the serious business that baptism is. Perhaps I spent too much time in the Directory for Worship this week preparing for Officer’s Training (where, upon my announcement that the first 2 chapters of the Directory for Worship are my favorite parts of the Book of Order, I was pronounced a geek. I’ll gladly own it!). It is serious business – this is when we claim this child as Gods, and make some pretty big promises that we, as the Body of Christ keep for her entire life.
Watching an entire community promise, on behalf of everyone in the entire world who is part of the body of Christ, to love and nurture this small child, to teach her about Jesus and the Gospel, to hep her grow and develop in her faith, well it moves me to tears. Not so many today – I was too busy enjoying the joy of someone so young smiling at everyone she saw, having no idea that we all just claimed her as ours. Being a voice to say that she belongs to God and we will be the ones to help teach her that feels like such an awe-inspiring task.
A friend of mine introduced me to the French Reformed Church Baptismal Liturgy, and I have used it before and adapted it. I love the idea that we are telling the child that all the work of Jesus was done before we were even cognizant of it, and yet, we are the ones responsible to tell the child until he or she can claim it for him or herself. “But we will continue to tell you this good news until it becomes your own.” And if she moves away, if she claims it for herself at another place, we will still be part of it as the body of Christ, we will all be there with her in spirit, and know that we were some of the first to tell her the good news that God loves her and that she belongs to God.
For you, little one, today we made promises and poured water and claimed you as God’s in love. It was serious business, indeed.
For you, little one,
the Spirit of God moved over the waters at creation,
and the Lord God made covenants with his people.
It was for you that the Word of God became flesh
and lived among us, full of grace and truth.
For you, [name], Jesus Christ suffered death
crying out at the end, “It is finished!”
For you Christ triumphed over death,
rose in newness of life,
and ascended to rule over all.
All of this was done for you, little one,
though you do not know any of this yet.
But we will continue to tell you this good news
until it becomes your own.
And so the promise of the gospel is fulfilled:
“We love because God first loved us.”