“Welcome to Church”
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19 NRSV)
For many reasons baptism has been on my mind. Perhaps because we have celebrated the sacrament of Holy Baptism for a number of children at St. John’s. Maybe because our Catechism Class is studying both the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Perhaps it is simply because for Lutherans, baptism is such an important moment and event in our life. But because it is on my mind, I want to share some thoughts about baptism with you.
When a person is baptized, they immediately become a member of the church. They are a member of St. John’s and a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We believe that in baptism God is the one doing the acting, as He claims the person as His own. We, who are the ones being baptized, are the ones being acted upon. God comes to us, claiming us and making us heirs of eternal life.
When infants and small children are baptized, their sponsors and godparents accept the responsibility and commitment for bringing the child up in the Christian faith. We understand baptism as the moment of rebirth. This is our moment of being “born again.”
While we most often use just a small amount of water and we pour this water over the head of the person being baptized, we also baptize by immersion. Both manners of celebrating the Sacrament are valid, for it is not the amount of water, but it is water, alongside God’s Word and the command of Christ.
As you can see, baptism is an important moment in the life of the baptized. It is also an important moment in the life of the Church. For when we are present at a baptism and when we are members of the church, we also become responsible for the Christian upbringing and faith of that baptized child of God (no matter what their age). We honor our responsibility and fulfill our calling to be the Church and brothers and sisters in Christ as we model and mentor Christian living; as we teach the faith through our Christian Education program; as we pray for each other; as we share our faith stories with others; and as we grow together in our relationship to God through Christ and our service to the world that God has created. We honor our Lord as we welcome others into the faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The final thing we say as a congregation as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is: We welcome you into the Lord’s family. We receive you as fellow members of the body of Christ, children of the same heavenly Father, and workers with us in the kingdom of God. (LBW p125) We welcome you into the Lord’s family! How truly wonderful those words are to hear and say. This year we have had the opportunity to say them often as we welcomed Linnea, Olivia, Luella, Annie, Hollis, and very soon Michael and Seth. May we continue to be a welcoming place for all people as they come into the Lord’s family. It is a blessing and a privilege to be the pastor at St. John’s – a congregation of hope, welcome, and faith. Thank you for inviting and welcoming people to St. John’s.
Welcome to church!
Pastor Butler +