A couple from our church was baptized tonight. I love baptisms. A few years ago I was able to baptize my dear friend Alaina, and it was very cool to be a part of that part of her journey (along with the other parts of her and her husband's journey that I've been involved with).
I love baptism for the remembrance it brings: that my old self has been buried, and I am a new creation in Christ. Tonight Pastor Jan pointed out how baptism is an external sacrament, affecting your whole outside (at least in immersion where all of a person gets wet); then we celebrated communion, an internal sacrament. The outward is cleansed in the water; the inner is rinsed with wine (coincidentally, Jesus' first miracle involved water and wine). In the beginning of creation, the Spirit hovered over the waters. At Jesus' baptism, the Spirit descended as He arose from the waters.
Baptism is a huge reminder of God's grace. Our sins are washed clean; only He can do that for us. Christ invites us to follow Him, dying to our own will and living in the fullness of life which He offers.
Before our worship and baptism time, we were invited to reflect on our own baptisms and God's grace in our lives. We were invited to write some reminder of our status as God's beloved on a ribbon and have someone tie it around our wrist while they reminded us "You are God's beloved."
The name "David" comes from the Hebrew word for beloved. I think I've written before about how I sometimes struggle with feeling unconditionally loved. But that's what God does. My name is even a reminder of my status with him. Not sinner (though I am). Not saint (though he makes me). Not failure or nobody or shame. Beloved. I was chosen by Him. Nothing I can do can change His love for me.
Tonight during our time of communion, one of the servers (our pastor's husband), invited Anders to come help him serve the juice. It was a joy to watch him hold the cup while others came to dip their piece of bread in it.
Earlier Anders and I were at the communion table together with a few others. I watched as adults broke off a piece of bread and gave it to the child next to them, and then the child breaking of a piece of bread giving it to the next adult. "The bread of life given to you." Then it was my turn to kneel down and accept a piece of bread from Anders. The same Anders that I had been frustrated with and yelled at this morning for not wanting to wear any of the pants that were in his drawer (I was trying to get him to dress nicely, too, so we could take some pictures today). The same Anders I got to hold hands with as we walked through the zoo. My performance doesn't entirely effect how he loves me (though there are moments when he'll say he doesn't love me if he's particularly mad right then). Grace is freely given. I can choose to freely accept it.
The waters of baptism, the communion table and even my name were all reminders tonight of God's grace. I have his free and unmerited favor. Not because of anything I have done (the sacraments may be reminders of grace, but I do not earn grace because of doing them), but because God has chosen me to be His child. He chooses each of us. Sometimes we just need those little (or big!) reminders that we are His beloved.