On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Holding a Baby About to be Baptized Used to Scare Me
I was ordained in the pastoral ministry in June of 1995. The first church I served was a small, rural parish in Central Michigan. Part of my duties was to baptize people and then to pastorally care for the baptized.
There were about 200 baptized members in my first parish at that time. Consequently, there weren’t too many baptisms or weddings for me to preside at.
Still, baptisms frightened me. Not the baptism theology – I was okay with that.
It was actually holding the child that scared me.
Up to that point, I had seen a handful of baptisms by other pastors and in all of them the pastor held the child in one arm and applied the water with the other hand.
When it came time for me to actually preside at a baptism, I suddenly realized that I had never held a baby in my arms before!
I also didn’t anticipate how slippery a baby in a taffeta baptismal gown can be, especially when I’m wearing a long-sleeved gown.
I freaked out! What if I dropped the baby in the water? Or worse, on the floor? I couldn’t deal with the possibility!
So, I chickened out. I had the mother, father, or one of the sponsors hold the baby.
Like I said, I had maybe two or three baptisms that first year, so it was not a big deal.
Things Changed When It Came Time to Baptize My First Child
In June of 1996, a week before my 1-year-ordination anniversary, it was time to baptize by first son.
It was Father’s Day, and Eddie was about two weeks old. I had been getting some practice holding a baby by that time.
But I was still leery of holding him while baptizing him, so Nancy ended up holding him.
In March of 1999 and again in March of 2000, it was time to baptize our other sons: Kurt and Mark respectively.
By then I was extremely confident in holding children and, if I remember correctly, I held each of them for their baptisms.
All Children Need What Baptism Gives
There is no doubt that my children needed baptizing. I also needed baptizing, way back in 1965. All children need what baptism gives: the forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation to all who believe this.
I believe the Scripture to be true that says, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
Children are sinners, even as adults are. The types of sins that children commit can be different than adults, but sin is sin. Sin condemns us to eternal condemnation (see Romans 5:16-18).
Baptism Gives Us a Free Gift
The Good News is that God provides forgiveness and life to us sinners. And he gives us this forgiveness and life as a free gift.
For many, that gift is first given in the waters of Holy Baptism.
It comes also through other Means of Grace as well, namely the Word of God and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Baptism is an incredible gift of God, in that it is a gift for all people, young or old. In Holy Baptism, God does all the work of salvation and gifting. The one being baptized simply receives it.
God Does All the Work in Baptism
It doesn’t matter if I hold the baby or if someone else does. God does all the work in Holy Baptism. And while I’m confident in holding babies today, sometimes I still have the parents or sponsors do so – because it is a joy to hold a baby! And I like sharing that joy!
What I like most, however, is that God provides such a wonderful gift that forgives, rescues, and gives eternal salvation.
Heavenly Father, I give you thanks that in Holy Baptism you give – as a free gift – the forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation. Bless all those who are baptized that they will faithfully be kept in their baptismal grace and give confession of their Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2018 True Men Ministries