This article appeared as the Rector's closing thoughts in the January 2016 issue of the Bellringer, our monthly newsletter.
This month, my son will be baptized on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (Sunday, January 10), the day we commemorate Jesus' baptism. In our baptisms, we join Jesus in his baptism. In our baptisms, we join Jesus in his death and resurrection. In our baptisms, we are adopted as Christ’s own forever. And just as a voice spoke from the heavens as Jesus came up from the Jordan, saying, "This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased," we can hear God's voice saying the same about us.
Some traditions will not baptize infants and young children. Along with being scriptural, the baptism of the young teaches the community something important about God. First, the baptism of an infant reminds us of God's abundant grace. Grace is not something we earn; it is a gift. The baptism of an adult converting to the faith is powerful, but the insistence on that as the only model, seems to suggest that it is our action, not God's grace that is at work here. Infant baptism is pure gift - the child did absolutely nothing to earn it – making the baptism a particularly strong reminder of God’s grace.
Second, baptism is full membership into the Body of Christ. As Paul teaches, every member of the Body is valuable and has a gift to share. As a full member of the Body of Christ, newly baptized infants have gifts to share, and we are all reminded to look for that gift. This child who cannot speak, let alone cook a meal, hammer a nail, or write a check, has a gift to offer. This child, as a full member of the Body of Christ, is doing something to share the love of God found in Jesus Christ. It is our job to welcome and appreciate that gift that God has given us through this child.
This month, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your own baptism. Not just the event itself, if you were old enough to remember, but about how you have been living it out over the years. Spend some time thinking about what gifts God has given you in this Body and how you can share them. If you are not baptized, I would love to have the opportunity to talk to you and invite you to consider accepting the gift of baptism that God has given us. Bingham+