We are Baptized
By Rev. Heidi Wallace, Pastor at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church & First Presbyterian Church
After the worship service at which my youngest nephew was baptized, we took family pictures around the font. Weston, 16-months-old at the time, would only smile for the pictures as long as he was splashing in the water. My family looked to me -- the pastor present -- and asked if that was allowed. I answered that not only was it allowed; it was encouraged!
While we only acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, because the sacrament uses the earthly element of water, we can give thanks for our baptisms any time we encounter it. We can remember that we are called, claimed, and named Child of God. We can, as Martin Luther emphasized, say, “I am baptized!”.
When we remember daily, if not moment-to-moment, that we are now Child of God, we live our lives not searching for what will give us identity or purpose, but already understanding who we are and whose we are. We do not have to busy ourselves doing something to deserve the love of God when we understand how deeply and dearly God loves us to have called us out of our old selves, claimed us as God’s own, and named us Child of God even and especially when our old selves were sinful and beyond saving. Still, through Christ, we were saved. That is grace.
That understanding in turn permits us to see our neighbors differently. What do we do when we realize that someone else has the same name, claim, and call as we do? I grew up encountering very few other Heidi’s. Anytime I did meet someone whose parents had decided on the same first name for their child as my parents had for me, I wanted to know more. What else did we have in common? Now imagine that reaction for everyone who has received the name Child of God. We already should know how deeply, how dearly they are loved. What else do we have in common? We are people. We struggle with being human. We strive to do, have, or be more. We do not feel that we do, have, or are enough.
Unless we remember who we are and whose we are. Unless we state emphatically, “I am baptized!”
The most succinct direction I ever received regarding living out my baptism was from Daniel Erlander when he signed my copy of his book Baptized We Live. Besides his name he only wrote two words: Live wet!
When I read that, I envision Gene Kelly dancing to Singin’ in the Rain. We can be so drenched in the waters of our baptism that we do not care how much more wet we get. We joyfully play in the waters. What’s more, we can live so wet that we splash others. Our wet lives spill onto others reminding them that they, too, can and should live out their baptisms.
Weston did not need to be told on the day of his baptism to splash in the water. It was the adults, those further removed from their own baptisms who needed to hear yes. Yes, it is allowed. Yes, it is encouraged. Yes, who you are and whose you are has not changed even though so much else in your life has. You are baptized. Come, to the waters. Splash, smile, and live!