Baptism- It’s so much more!
Many people think of baptism as a cute baby in a white outfit, parents and godparents standing around the font, the pastor reading and asking questions of those gathered, pouring water on a wiggly baby, and smiles and clapping to welcome the little one into God’s family. While these may be true of a baptism, it is only the beginning of that child’s faith life. Baptism is the start of a covenant between God and believers which is acknowledged in many actions throughout our Christian lives. It really is the basis of so many parts of our Christian lives.
In Luther’s Small Catechism he explains that “
water by itself is only water, but with the Word of God it is a life-giving water”. The water is a visual way for humans to see the washing away of sins, but it is God’s Word, his promise, along with the water that creates the pact between God and the baptized.
So, what does God promise? The Small Catechism says, “In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what he has promised”. God keeps his promise both while we are alive and when we die. The beginning of worship is the Order of Confession and Forgiveness in which we acknowledge our sins and are forgiven “In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for you, and for his sake God forgives you all your sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ he gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit” (ELW). A reminder of the promise made at our Baptism.
But note that it is a two-way street, God promises, but we must believe. In Mark 16, Jesus says “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved”. So, it’s important to be reminded at different times of the promise of our baptism to keep our faith in the forefront of our thoughts and actions. During worship, making the sign of the cross and taking Holy Communion are reminders of our Bapt
ism. In the Nicene Creed “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”. An ashen cross is placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. Those baptized as a baby or young child have Confirmation, also called Affirmation of Baptism, when they are old enough to think for themselves and publicly affirm their belief in the promises God made at their baptism.
At the end of the baptismal service, a small cross is traced on the baptized forehead with a bit of the water and the pastor says, “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever” (ELW). MARKED FOREVER. Though the human eye does not see it, it is visible to God. And in a way, knowing that I have that invisible cross on my head, I am comforted in knowing that I am part of the Family of God, along with all of you.
Baptism is like a gift certificate we received from God. We get the gift of forgiveness of sin while alive, and upon our death, we redeem it one last time and receive the gift of life everlasting, fulfilling God’s promise made at our Baptism.
Lay School Student