Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Why we baptize infants?!?!

In the fall of 1998, I was baptized at a Baptist church. I remember going up to the second floor of the church, through a bathroom, right to the entrance of the baptismal font. The Baptist church taught "believers" baptism. This is the practice of baptizing people that have made a commitment and profession to Jesus Christ.

In this tradition, infants are not baptized instead dedicated.

Almost 20 years has spanned between then and now. And a lot has changed for me. For one I am no longer a Baptist. I am a Methodist pastor. And one of those people with an infant daughter.

Many of the traditions for Jewish people are passed down to us Christ followers. Holy Communion comes out of the Passover Seder meal. And our baptism comes from the Jewish practice of circumcision. This was done to new born males recognizing their initiation into God's covenant.

A view baptism as a gift from God. A gift that is not dependent upon our consciousness of such gifts. Many will wait to have their infants baptized when they older. They want baptism to be meaningful. Yet we give our babies gifts at Christmas and their birthdays. Clearly, these gifts don't mean anything to the babies.  It sounds odd to me that we would give our babies a birthday gift yet withhold God's gift of baptism.

Through baptism, we are initiated into the body of Christ. Just as much as my daughter is a GASKIN. Our baptism is a visible mark that we are God's beloved child. And that we are all connected to one another by this mark. What makes us as a body unique is that all of us have gone through these waters. This mark of baptism initiates the child into our fold. She or he is apart of us.

It is through our baptism that we find our identity in God. Why does a child need to know their identity at such a young age? Although an infant is not "conscious" at this age and most likely will not recollect early memories of their childhood... does not mean that their memory or experiences don't matter. An infant that is abandoned and abused will show signs of the dysfunction later in life even if they don't recollect. So our love and care for our children are significant in their character and identity formation. Part of this formation is understanding that through the baptismal waters we receive our identity. We recognize God has created us. God has made us unique. God has given us gifts and talents.

Although I am quite new at being a parent I realize how foundational this sacramental act is. Me and my wife care for and love Laurel and our hope is that this love will allow her to be fully who God has called her to be. Our hope is that the love and grace of Jesus Christ and her parents will lead her to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. We don't love her after the fact...

This coming Sunday... I will yet again as a Pastor baptize an infant: Michael Bejanamin Reagan. I  can't wait to share in this moment! We as church tell Ben through this act that God loves him, He is one of us, and God has uniquely made him! Our hope and prayer are that one day by God's grace he will be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.