This Sunday is Baptism Sunday. We will remember Jesus’ baptism, as well as our own. Like an old married couple renewing their marriage vows, on this day, we are called to renew our covenant with God.
Every now and then I will hear a new couple talking about love at first sight. I want to say, “Yeah, tell me how you feel when you’ve been looking at them for 30 years.” That is also the miracle represented by baptism. God fell in love with you at the start, and baptism is the sign of that love. Although God has seen you at your worst, God still has never taken a towel and dried you off. At his baptism Jesus was called God’s beloved … and so were you.
Those are words that God is still speaking, and, after dealing with life all week, it is important that we return to this place each Sunday to hear that powerful affirmation again. Only then can God speak those liberating words through us to the world.
Were you baptized as an infant or a child? The five percent of Christendom represented by evangelical denominations like the Southern Baptists don’t baptize babies; they dedicate them. During high school, I worked at a grocery store with my best friend Scott. He grew up to be a Baptist preacher, and I became a Methodist minister. In the South there really isn’t much difference between the two, but Scott and I had an ongoing argument about whether or not infants should be baptized. He insisted you had to understand what was happening for baptism to be effective.
I contended that, because it is God who redeems us and not we ourselves, we should receive God’s covenant sign early, just as the Jews circumcise male infants as a sign they are one of God’s covenant people. I went with Scott to his Baptist church one Sunday. They dedicated a baby that morning. I listened as the pastor questioned the parents, and watched as he took the baby and prayed for her, dedicating her to God.
As he finished his prayer, I leaned over to Scott and whispered, “If he’d had a little water he’d have done it.”
Rev. Michael Piazza