In our protestant tradition we baptize babies. It’s what we do. It’s what we believe. We believe the promises God gave to Abraham to be his God were fulfilled in Jesus and are extended to everyone in the Christian family including Leyson. And we believe by the grace of God Leyson is accepted, and like he was adopted into our family, he is adopted into the family of God and because of this he should be baptized.
For us baptism is a sign, not of any action Leyson has made toward God but the action God, through Jesus has made toward Leyson. God loves him and calls Leyson his own.
For Leyson this is a gift. A free gift of God, a gift of grace.
I love the practice of child baptism because it reminds me of how messed up our personal theology can become. We think we know how to be Christians. We think we have it together. We think we know who will “make it” and who will not. We think we need to do stuff and believe a certain way to “make it”.
In child baptism I am reminded that we really have no idea. As I witness my young son being baptized I know he will be oblivious to what is happening. He doesn’t realize what Jesus did for him, how much God loves him, what this means for his life. He knows none of this and as a child he can do nothing about it. All he can do is hopefully hold still and be quiet while the pastor wets his head.
And me. What I can do to be saved? Absolutely nothing. All I can do is accept the promises extended to me in my baptism and……well there is no and. That is all I can do and Jesus does the rest. One day Leyson will hopefully accept that promises made to him in his baptism and profess that faith verbally among his church family and visually and physically among the community he is part of and in the world around him.
I was confronted with that irony again this past Friday morning as we gathered with other Christians and contemplated the greatest gift we could ever receive. For God loved the world so much he sent his son; to live with us and die for us.
So this Sunday, Easter morning, Tracey and I will take our youngest son to church. We will meet with the family of God and with our older baptized children we will gather around a bowl of water. We will hear about God’s promises to Leyson, we will make promises to God, to each other and to Leyson, we will watch the pastor baptize Leyson and then we will hear these words of blessing to Leyson and all of us, in English and Haitian Creole.
Leyson, for you Jesus Christ came into the world:
Leyson, se pou ou Bondye te vini sou latè:
for you he lived and showed God’s love;
se pou ou menm menm li te viv e te montre lamou Bondye;
for you he suffered the darkness of Calvary and cried at last “It is finished”;
se pou ou menm menm li te soufri mizè sou monn Kalvèepi te rele ‘tout se fini’;
for you he triumphed over death and rose in newness of life;
se pou ou menm menm li te fè viktwa sou lanmou epi te vinn monte avèk tout yon nouvo lavi;
for you he ascended to reign at God’s right hand.
se pou ou menm menm li te monte nan syèl la kote l’ap chita bo men dwat Bondye.
All this he did for you, Leyson, before you knew anything of it.
Tout sa, li te fè pou ou, Leyson, avan ou pa’t konnen anyen.
And so the Word of Scripture is fulfilled; “We love because God loved us first.”
Pou ke pawol Bondye kapab respekte; ‘Nou renmen paske Bondye te renmen nouavan.’
Leyson will understand very little of this and will probably remember nothing of this and yet we will be witness to something that is so amazing, so unbelievable, something most of us can’t even understand; how a God so rich in mercy graciously accepts Leyson as his own, adopted into his family, just as he was adopted into ours.