When believers come to be baptized they do so as a public pronouncement of faith, showing that their sins have been washed through Christ's blood and they are living a new life in alignment with Christ's death and resurrection. They are baptized because they chose Jesus.
When parents bring their infant to be baptized in the church, they do so as a sign of God's prevenient grace. Jesus' atonement took care of our sins long before we were even born. He went to the cross knowing that one day we would be in need of His grace and salvation; He loved us before we breathed our first breath. Infant baptism shows that Jesus chose us.
I was baptized as an infant. That is special to me--and I need those reminders that God chose me. We chose to let our boys decide when they want to be baptized. I appreciate both forms of baptism and their reminders of who we are in God. Both are signs of His grace and love.
We celebrated two new lives in our church tonight. Baby Bailey was "churched"--it was her first time to church since being born just over a week ago. Our tradition is to welcome them with prayers and blessings.
Baby Teagan was baptized tonight. She happened to be Pastor Jan's granddaughter so it was a special event--though, of course, all baptisms are special. With each baptism we are reminded of our own baptisms and place in God's family. We pray over those who are baptized.
Tonight, the lectionary text happened to be Acts 2:42-47 which talks about how the church functioned when it was first formed. The believers were devoted to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, prayer and to sharing their resources for the sake of helping those in need. The met together in the temple and in their homes, and each day new believers were added to their number. We continue that today. This is the community we are baptized into. This is what we welcome the newly baptized into for being discipled. And in our baptism, as we are identifying ourselves with Jesus, we are also entering into a community where we practice the same things the church has been practicing together for generations. We fellowship together, we gather at the table together, we pray together, we learn together, we grow together, we love others together, we give together and we follow together. This is the family you are welcomed into.