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It really was a wonderful weekend, far too rare, far too short. There was plenty of food, plenty of conversation and at some point in the middle a very tiny boy wound up with a new name.

Now, to be fair, he didn’t get the new name precisely when you might have thought, but we’re skipping too far ahead… let’s start at the beginning.

Baptism is a very interesting subject. There aren’t many people who understand much about baptism and the ones who do disagree with each other. But take heart gentle reader, you will within moments discover the most concise, precise and quite likely incorrect explanation of baptism ever. And we begin… again at the beginning.

No wait, I changed my mind. Let’s begin somewhere else, some place that is definitely not the beginning. Let’s start by answering a question, namely, why water? More to the point, water seems awfully symbolic, so what’s the big deal?

Great question, I’m glad I asked. The water has nearly nothing to do with, except that it has everything to do with it. The water is a symbol, and if it were a symbolic gesture on our part, we could replace it with pretty much whatever we want. Yep, if that were the case, baptisms in body wash would probably be perfectly acceptable. But, it’s not and they aren’t.

It is a symbolic gesture, but it’s from God to us, not the other way around. Let’s take a step back. Jesus told Nicodemus that if you aren’t born from above, you will never see the kingdom of heaven. He goes on further to say that you must be born from water and the Wind.

Now, here’s the rub, you have to be born from above, really truly born, not a symbolic gesture. You have to be born from above, by water and the Wind, or you will never see the kingdom of heaven. It’s just that simple.

Except, that doesn’t sound simple at all. You can’t choose to be born, you’re just born. If this whole baptism thing is a new birth, how do you know it happened? I mean, I get this faith thing is a big part of it, but at the end of the day, how do you know?

So here’s the symbol, as surely as the water poured over a tiny baby’s head purified him, so too can he be assured that the Spirit of God has breathed new life into him and that God has made his home in him. He has been redeemed, washed clean, and adopted as a son of the Creator.

Could we have used body wash? Sure, but that’s not the symbol God chose. Did his baptism happen Sunday? Yes and no; God has chosen him, and he has always been chosen. In addition, God has in his grace given this little boy a sign that he will always be with him. So, he was given the symbol of the baptism he has always been chosen to receive. When did he receive it? I can’t imagine why “when” would matter.

I do want to add this one thing. I am glad that we baptize babies, it is a testament to the fact that Christ said we should let the little children come to him. For the same reason that this is a good thing, I believe it is a bad thing to keep children from taking communion until they have been confirmed.

Posted with : The Way