We had a baptism at church this morning. Three things stood out to me.
The pastor was pointing out that there are differences between Jesus'
baptism and the baptism that was about to take place. Jesus was an
adult when he was baptized, whereas the person who was about to be
baptized at our church was an infant. Jesus was dunked, whereas the
baby would be sprinkled. The pastor also said that the liturgy
encourages us to remember the time of our own baptism, but that many of
us can't do that, since a number of us were babies when we were
So is our method of baptism non-biblical? Well,
believers in infant baptism refer to Scriptures to support their
position----passages about baptizing all nations, the baptism of entire
households, and the fact that ancient Israelites were initiated into the
covenant when they were babies, through circumcision. Is there a
disadvantage to infant baptism? I can see value in being baptized as an
adult, when I am in a position to make a commitment to God. And yet, I
honor the values that have been associated with infant baptism, such as
the importance of the community instructing and nurturing the child to
follow God's ways. That brings me to my second point.
been to who-knows-how-many baptisms since I started attending my
church. And what I've noticed is that, with all of the talk about the
church community guiding the child in God's ways, we almost never see
the families whose child is being baptized after the baptism. Usually,
they come back to church for the next baptism, and that's it. There
have been some exceptions, though. I saw one couple who used to come to
services more regularly.
I wonder some things. Are we taking the
baptism seriously, or is it just a rote? I'm hesitant to be
judgmental. Perhaps the families choose to raise their children in the
faith informally, apart from the church. And the fact that so many
people show up for the baptism shows that they take baptism seriously,
on some level.
3. The pastor's sermon was good. It was about
baptism. The pastor said that Jesus was baptized because, in a sense,
Jesus was repenting, or changing direction: he was going from being a
carpenter to becoming one who was performing God's mission. The pastor
also noted that Jesus' baptism was a time when Jesus was affirmed as
God's son. Similarly, the pastor said, those who are baptized become
God's children. The difference between them and Jesus, however, is that
they have been orphaned by sin, whereas Jesus did not know sin. That
may be true, but I think that even Jesus felt more at home when he was
reminded that he was God's son, for, while he was not orphaned by sin,
he was physically away from his Father.