By Sam Gutierrez
A couple weeks ago, some folks who attend Alger and watch our online worship services said that when they ask their two-year old, “Who is on the screen?” he responds “Pastor Sam!” Then they ask, “What does Pastor Sam do?” The child responds, “Pours water!” They followed up by saying that during bath time, he practices pouring water just like Pastor Sam does on the video.
I loved hearing this story!
It doesn’t surprise me that children gravitate towards this powerful practice. It’s visual. It’s auditory. It’s dramatic. It’s memorable. I think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he gave us the sacrament of baptism. Jesus wanted to communicate his grace to us in a way that we could comprehend beyond words. Words are good and helpful… but we often need more than words. We need to see grace being poured out. We need to see and hear the water splashing. We need to see the abundance! We can talk about grace all we want in church, but when we see the waters of baptism, we understand and believe grace in a different and hopefully deeper way.
Jesus gave us two sacraments: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism. The most basic definition of a sacrament is a means of grace. This is why the sacraments are really about God and who God is. Sometimes, especially with baptism, we can believe that baptism is something we do – when we’re ready, when we’re old enough or when we’re finally serious about our faith. We think that baptism is a commitment that we are making. And it is…baptism includes our promises, but baptism starts and ends with God's big promises…and we simply get caught up in the middle. Another way to say it is: Our small “yes” is surrounded by God’s big and never ending YES to us in Christ. (2 Cor. 1:20)
I don’t intend to make a case for infant baptism here…although the Reformed tradition does emphasis infant baptism. But you can see how in infant baptism, the emphasis is clearly placed on God’s goodness and promises. This “grace point” is magnified in infant baptism – we do nothing to earn God’s love or favor. It is a pure gift.
In our worship service every week, we remember our baptism and sometimes even participate in a baptism. These next few weeks, I plan to do a 4-part series on baptism. I want to pull on some major threads and explore the following: Forgiveness, Adoption, Death and Resurrection, and Mission.
But for this week, I’d like to encourage you to touch your forehead and say the words “I’m baptized.” When we do that, we are claiming our deepest identity – as dearly loved children of God and recipients of God’s amazing grace.