A great many things happen in the name of celebrating. It isn’t too difficult to find most any excuse to have a celebration — even a minor one. The end of a work week is enough reason to go out to dinner or have drinks with friends. But there is one thing in life to celebrate, perhaps, more than any other.
This weekend I got to perform one of my very favorite tasks as a pastor. On Sunday I did baptisms for a pair of cousins. Although it’s a seemingly simple thing to do and quite uneventful to the naked eye (pouring a little tap water on a child’s head and speaking God’s Word), it is one of life’s most significant events. As St. Paul said:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
The entire theology of baptism can be left to other posts and other writers. The point here is that baptism delivers forgiveness. It brings new life. It is God’s own delivery mode for salvation.
If that isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
The families of those two cousins did it right. After church they invited everyone at the baptism to remain for lunch, eat some cake, and do some celebrating. It reminded me of all the celebrations our family has had over the years after a baptism. Family and friends gather to eat, pass around the baby, and celebrate.
Far too often I see families in church for a baptism then rarely, if ever, see them again. They are forgetting that Jesus said disciples are made when we both baptize and teach (Matthew 28:18-20). Baptism isn’t just some magic incantation. It delivers forgiveness of sins, brings life, and delivers faith and salvation. But that can all be snuffed out without regular connection to the Word of God.
It seems to me that the families who “get” baptism are the ones who celebrate. And they’re the ones I most often see in church again the next Sunday.
If there’s one reason for celebrating this is most certainly it. So here’s to celebrating baptisms more often and then turning around and going to church again the next week. And the week after that. And the week after that.
It’s all preparation for the greatest Celebration of all.
How do you celebrate life’s most significant events?