Baptism of Our Lord

baptism_JesusThe voice mail said, “I’d like to talk about having my child baptized in your church.”

It was someone I didn’t know; someone living in another city, but because of their local family situation they wanted the baptism in the congregation I was serving.

So I phoned them back and we began the conversation I sometimes have with people desiring baptism.

“So what’s motivating you to have your child baptized?” I asked. She told me about her background, the church they were wanting to attend and her desire to commit her child to God. I responded, “It sounds to me like you want to dedicate your child rather than have your child baptized.”

After a bit more conversation I was able to redirect her to a church that more accurately reflected her tradition and beliefs.

I suppose I could have shared with her that child dedication, although found in the Old Testament (see Hannah’s dedication of Samuel 1 Samuel 1:21-28), is not a New Testament practice of Christians. Yes, Jesus was dedicated (Luke 2:22-40), but this was part of the Jewish practice of circumcision and I haven’t seen too many parents willing to go that far in their dedication.

There are certainly many Christian churches who need child dedication because they have rejected infant baptism and parents of faith still want some kind of spiritual acknowledgement for their children.

Yes, I could have made a strong argument for infant baptism, but this parent didn’t sound interested in connecting with an infant baptizing congregation.

How hard does one push our witness or was my reluctance to make a strong case an indication of my own questions? Does it matter if we baptized children or not?

Within our Christian church we baptize children and  people of all ages in response to the Christ who commanded that we baptize “all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20) and who promised forgiveness (Acts 2:38) and new birth through baptism (John 3:1-21).

We do not believe that baptism is not some kind magical act of salvation. Nowhere did Jesus say, “Get baptized and you will be saved.” Instead, he commanded that people be taught about God (Matthew 28:20) and that they receive what God has offered through the gift of faith (Mark 16:16). In fact, baptism requires the faith of parents, a congregation and the faith of the person baptized for God’s offer to become a saving reality for the baptized.

This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord who in obedience to his Father came to be baptized and through baptism heard the words, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

This is what God desires to say to each of us in our baptism. Words to wash us clean and like Jesus did and commanded, that we might go out and make disciples of all nations.

– Pastor Tim

At Trinity ELC we offer the following opportunities to learn, be encouraged and to live out the gift God’s abundant life, alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ and with those God loves through Christ: