The Miracle of Baptism
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” MATTHEW 13:13-17
“And the heavens opened and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Here at Overland Park Lutheran Church for baptism we gather and the parents and the sponsors of a young child bring the baby forward around the baptismal font and the pastor pours water on the head of the baby and a voice from heaven says: “This is my child.”
And we light a candle and the congregation welcomes the child and claims the child as it’s own, saying with one voice when asked: Do you as people of God, promise to support this child and pray for this child in this child’s life in Christ, We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.
The miracle of baptism is the presence of God in water and word claiming our children as God’s own.
The miracle of baptism is the community claiming a child as its own.
The miracle of baptism connects us all to each other. In the water and the word of baptism we are created to be people of God for each other. Water and word connect us to God and to each other.
I love baptisms. Over the years I have been part of some great baptismal stories. My favorite however took place in the mid 80’s. We gathered the family around the font. There were parents, sponsors (God parents) and grandparents. We went through the baptismal liturgy and then I held the baby over the font and poured water from my hand three times and said those words: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of a the Holy Spirit. Now the parents were very concerned about their baby crying during the baptism so the child had a pacifier in her mouth. As soon as I said the baptismal words, this child reached up, grabbed the pacifier from her mouth and threw it directly into the baptismal font. It was as if to say, “I’m free, thank you God, I’m free.”
Most of us come from different places and different backgrounds. Some of us would never have met if we hadn’t sat in a church pew and talked with a complete stranger. It is because of our baptisms that we are connected. Connected in a way that is so profound and so beautiful that sometimes we don’t even know that we are connected until something happens and we feel the pain of someone else in our community.
So today, on the day we remember the baptism of Jesus, it is an appropriate time to remember our baptisms, and in the remembering, celebrate our connectedness.
There is something incredibly powerful about the benefits of baptism. Remember with me for a moment the words of the Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: Luther writes: “Baptism is not simple water, Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s word.” (I would add, connected to God.)
When Luther writes about the benefits of baptism he says: “It brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God.”
In the Taize community in France when the community does a baptism, when the child is lifted over the font, the one doing the baptism says: “And you little child, you who know nothing of this are about to be introduced to the mysteries of God.”
The mysteries of God then become our life long quest as we live out our baptisms.
I want us to all join hands until we are all holding hands and until we are all connected, one to another, not just in rows but connected from front to back and side to side. When we are all connected then I would like you to close your eyes. I would like you to remember your own baptism, not the event, but the people who helped baptize you. Your parents, remember them. Your grandparents, remember them. The church where you were baptized and the pastor, remember. Remember that in that simple act of pouring water and saying words that you became a part of a community. Remember. Squeeze, gently, the hand of the person or persons whose hands you are holding and let us pray:
We thank you for the water that cleansed us.
We thank you for the water that heals us.
We thank you for the water that connects us to you Lord Jesus. We thank you for the word that connects us to each other.
We thank you for this community of faith.
We thank you for friends and neighbors.
We thank you for our baptism, it makes us whole, it sets us free, it makes us one.