As I began diving into the scriptural texts for this week, Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, I found myself reflecting on one of the most profound experiences I had during my pastoral internship two years ago. Two other adults and myself took a number of our confirmation students to Colorado Springs for two days where they learned what it meant to be “Drenched in Grace” and “Poured Out in Love”.
Over the course of the weekend, the students learned that they were claimed as God’s children through their baptism, that God’s grace made them new each and every day, and that they had congregations which were meant to nurture them as they lived as God’s children in service to other people. It was a great experience, but I felt my heart sink that first night. I had forgotten that one of my students had yet to be baptized. No one had stood up with her, promising to bring her to God’s Word and Holy Communion, to teach her about her tradition, or to nurture her in faith and prayer. I wondered what that weekend could have meant for her, and if she even understood what we were talking about and doing at that youth gathering. I hate to admit this, but that is all the further my thought went. I didn’t take the necessary time to talk to her about what it meant to be baptized—to be drenched in God’s grace and poured out in love and service to others.
As much as I still kick myself today for not talking to her, it makes me happy that she was baptized that spring. There her sponsors made those baptismal promises to her. God’s grace was poured on her by water and Word, and she was publicly claimed as God’s child. Publicly. In the assembly of the congregation. Publicly. Just as Jesus was when the Spirit descended on him like a dove and the voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased”. What might it mean for us, the body of Christ, to take a closer look at the promises we make to care for and nurture the faith journey of the newly baptized? Or to remind one another of our identity as God’s beloved children, dying to sin and rising to new life each day, through our baptisms?