Celebrate your baptism!

Celebrate your baptism!

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5

Steven J. Pagels

My mother was beaming as she looked down at the little bundle of joy in her arms. My dad was standing next to her, just as excited about the new life the Lord had brought into the world.

It’s the kind of scene you would expect to see at a hospital birthing center, but my mom wasn’t the one wearing the gown that day. I was. And the family picture wasn’t taken in a hospital room. We were gathered around the baptismal font.

Because I was born in the hospital on a Sunday and baptized in church the following Sunday, it’s easy for me to remember the date of my baptism: August 20, 1972. How about you? When were you baptized? Do you remember that day? How do you celebrate that day?

REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY

As a pastor, I have been involved in dozens of baptism celebrations. New parents are filled with joy, and they invite their family and friends to the service to rejoice with them. It is a blessing to see so many new faces in church, but sometimes I wonder how many of those guests grasp the significance of what is taking place at the font.

Baptism is much more than a spiritual rite of passage. When parents bring their child to the font, they are not just fulfilling a time-honored Christian tradition. Paul wanted Titus to know—and he wants us to remember—that every baptism is a rescue mission. Babies may look cute and cuddly, but they are born dead in their sins. Every human being enters the world stained by sin, and we desperately need someone to wash us and make us clean.

Enter God. As unlovable as we are, God still loves us. Even though you and I have done nothing to deserve it, he saved us. He rescued us from the curse of our sin. He snatched us out of the clutches of Satan. Using only a few drops of water and a few powerful words, the Holy Spirit made us children of God and heirs of eternal life. When I stop and think about all the blessings the Lord poured out on me on the day of my baptism, I can’t help but celebrate.

REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM EVERY DAY

Later this month I will celebrate the 43rd anniversary of my baptism, but you don’t have to wait for your own “rebirth day” to join the festivities. And you don’t have to feel bad if you can’t remember the exact date of your baptism because God wants you to remember your baptism, every day.

You can start by locating your baptismal certificate. Instead of putting it away after you look at it, put it in a frame and hang it in a prominent place in your home. Let it serve as a visible reminder of the miracle the Holy Spirit has worked in your heart. Ask your parents if they have any pictures from that day and add them to the display. Highlight the date of your baptism in your planner. Give thanks for your baptism in your daily prayers.

No matter what you do, remember that the goals are to remember everything the Lord has done for you, to remember the blessings of your baptism, and to celebrate your baptism!

Contributing editor Steven Pagels is pastor at St. Matthew’s, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

 

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Author: Steven J. Pagels
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

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