I love baptisms! I love them because I enjoy watching the families, the giggles and whines of the little one, and the wonderful smell of the baptismal oil. And truth be told, I love baptisms probably because I remember my own baptism when I was about 9 years old. It was in Warrenton Baptist Church, and it was done by full immersion. We had a big baptismal pool behind the choir area, and I wore a white gown, and the pastor also had on a white gown and big old wader pants. Three times I went down into the water, and three times I was told I was alive, born anew, resurrected. At the age of 9, I didn’t really understand these ideas of being “alive,” “born anew” or “resurrected” outside of the context that yes, I was alive and that Jesus had been resurrected. But what did these words have to do with being baptized?
While Brooke didn’t experience full immersion this morning the way I did, I would probably use the words “alive,” “born anew” and “resurrected” to describe her baptismal experience. Through the waters of baptism, she is “alive” in Christ, “born anew” into a community of all faithful people, and “resurrected” into new life. Now chances are, Brooke won’t remember today’s experience. Her parents and godparents will tell her about it in the future, and there will be photos, but what I hope they will share with her is that today she is named as a perfect child of God.
Now being a perfect child of God does have some responsibilities. Brooke will need to learn how to love others as God loves her. She will need to learn how to pray and share her love of God with others through deed and word. And she will need all of our support as she grows into the full stature of Christ. She cannot be Christ’s hands in the world if we aren’t first Christ’s hands to her and her family.
When Margot, Andy and I met to prepare for this morning, we talked about what this morning’s lessons have to do with Brooke’s baptism. We have the lesson from 1 Kings about Elijah resurrecting the widow’s son, we have Paul’s letter to the Galatians where he reflects on his conversion, and we have the resurrection of the widow of Nain’s son by Jesus. All of these stories point to being “alive,” “born anew” and being “resurrected” both figuratively and literally. The sons of the widows in both 1 Kings and Luke are raised from the dead…they are resurrected…they are raised to new life. And what we know about resurrection stories in the Bible is that resurrection living means a change in the way the person encounters the world…they go off to tell others about their new life in God. They become messengers of the Good News to others. And Paul’s conversion is a wonderful illustration of experiencing a “metanoia” or “turning around” or “change of heart”…he truly experiences being “born anew” into a faithful community of Jesus followers and as we know from Paul’s letters, he was very much “alive” in Christ.
But what moved me the most of the readings for today is the Psalm because I think it reminds all of us of our responsibilities for resurrection—or baptismal—living.
1. To sing praises to God
2. To put our trust and hope in God
3. Like God, to care for the oppressed and the hungry
4. To pray for those in prison, to pray for those who are sick and in need of help
5. To care for the friend and stranger
Don’t we see these responsibilities in our baptismal covenant? To believe in the Triune God, to proclaim the Good News, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, and to strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being.
So this morning, let us join Brooke and her family in celebrating being born anew and being alive in Christ. May we all experience resurrection living as perfect children of God!
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.