Celebrating with you many Baptisms
By Nathan Esser
Celebrating with you the many baptisms of the past 3 months, I say often to parents or those being baptized that any time we celebrate a baptism, the Gospel message is proclaimed loud and clear. The words proclaimed at Jesus’ baptism are echoed to us and we are confronted by the truth of God’s love for us saying to each of us, “You are my beloved.”
When the one being baptized is an infant, it is a common practice to carry the newly baptized baby down the middle aisle of the sanctuary. This is done as a way to welcome the child into our church family and acknowledge our responsibility to care for the child, along with his or her family.
As I hold and introduce the child, I love observing your responses. The child could be throwing a fit or smiling and waving; nonetheless, you all look toward the child with such awe and wonder. Your expression communicates and affirms something very holy and good. We affirm together, “Yes! Yes! Of course, God loves this child.”
There are times I encounter a shared sense of bewilderment. As if to say, “Yes! Yes! Of course, God loves this child; why wouldn’t God love this baby?” At the core of what our congregation believes and understands about God and God’s ways is an abiding, unconditional love.
In your responses (and in my own), I also sense feelings of nostalgia. Perhaps you recall your own baptism or that of your child, a friend or close relative. Or, perhaps you are confronted and challenged with the message that says, “You are my beloved” and remember a time long ago when you felt loved, cherished and claimed by God. You recall how good it felt but it’s now more of a distant memory, a holy longing for what you once knew. If only we could see ourselves through God’s eyes.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we wouldn’t see ourselves as failures.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we wouldn’t feel alone. If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we wouldn’t feel lost.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we could feel a sense of belonging, maybe then we could see ourselves as a valued part of a larger family and community.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we could stop hurting ourselves and others through greed, addiction and abuse.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, maybe then we could begin to love ourselves, identify our self-worth, and maybe then we could love other people as we have been loved.
Friends, the most important message for us and our church to affirm and together proclaim is: Yes! Yes! You are a beloved child of God! Yes! I am a beloved child of God. Yes! We are beloved children of God. Yes! Amen!
Rev. Nathan Esser