PREPARING FOR BAPTISM
Here is what St. Paul has to say of Baptism in Romans.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5
Baptism is not about keeping Grandmother happy as important as that is. Baptism is about entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ that is more important even than the relationship we have with our parents, our spouses, or our children. Just as we prepare for a wedding or for the birth of a child, we prepare to be united with Jesus and his Church in Baptism.
That preparation includes discussion with the Pastor about the reasons we are baptized, and what it means to live as a baptized child of God. Part of that discussion therefore revolves around the promises we make to Christ and his Church, and the promises Christ and his Church makes to the baptized. Those promises have a special name, and that name is covenant. We enter into a covenantal relationship with our Lord and God, a relationship in which we promise to profess Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins, and God promises to forgive and to give us life now and eternally. It is a pretty lopsided relationship, given that God is always steadfast in faithfulness and we are anything but, yet still we make those promises, knowing we can only keep them with God’s help and even then imperfectly. But God is always willing to forgive, and so we enter into the covenant of Baptism.
That covenantal relationship may be entered into at any age, so people are baptized at any age. Not very long ago, most baptisms in church were of children, infants for the most part. The Baptism of adults is becoming more and more common, as people who were never baptized come to know Jesus and love him and wish to become a part of his body, the Church. When adults are baptized, they of course promise to be a part of the life of the Church, that together we may reject sin, the devil and his empty promises, and live in the communion of the Holy Spirit. When a child is baptized, his or her parents, Godparents, and the Church as a whole, makes those promises on behalf of the child, and then promises the Church and our Lord to raise the child to know and love God. Specifically, a parent promises:
- to bring his or her children to the Lord’s House for worship
- to teach their children the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Ten Commandments
- to give their children Bibles, and to instruct them in the faith and find others to help them with this task
Most of all, a parent is to model the life of the Christian disciple for his or her children, so they may “catch” the faith. Martin Luther said that parents are bishops in their own home, so important is the parent to the faith of their children.
Some details about Baptism at St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church.
- First, Baptisms are private only when the individual to be baptized is in danger of dying, and even these baptisms are recognized publically at a later time. If you or a family member are critically ill than call immediately and ask for the Pastor to come. For the rest of us, Baptism is not just a family event, a way to recognize a birth. Baptism is the rebirth of the baptized in water washed by God’s Word. It is, therefore, a rite celebrated by the whole Church, on earth and in heaven, so we celebrate this new life together, usually at the late service.
- When you are baptized you join the Church, the universal Church that is the body of Christ, and the church, our congregation, one outpost of the universal Church. Welcome to St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church; you’re a member of the family now. Like the first twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, we follow him together, supporting and encouraging one another to faithfulness.
- There is only one Baptism for the forgiveness of sin, so if you have been baptized before we won’t re-baptize you when you join the Church or have found the faith you misplaced. Instead, we will happily reaffirm your Baptism with you, and help you to find the confidence you need in your Lord to turn a new page in your life of faith.
- There are times of the year when the Church has traditionally baptized and times of the year when the Church has traditionally NOT baptized. The Baptism of Jesus and the Easter Vigil are great times for Baptisms, Christmas Eve and Good Friday not so much. Pastor can help you settle on a date that suits you and your family and the church.