Friday, October 24, 2008

4 Minute Devotions: A Gift of God's Kindness

Infant baptism is a beautiful way of encountering God’s holiness in church. Babies not only have a right to life, they also have a right to be sanctified.

Podcast version here

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

One of the greatest gifts that God gives to Presbyterian pastors is the joy of baptizing a child. I absolutely love cradling babies in my arms, sprinkling them with water, and declaring them to be in God’s Kingdom. It’s a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful blessing to the baby.

I have been privileged to have baptized hundreds of babies. When I was a parish minister in Scotland, I baptized many babies whose parents had hardly any connection to the church. My attitude was, and still is, that the baby is completely innocent and should welcomed by the community of faith, no matter who their parents are or what they are like. Once that wee innocent baby is baptized, no one can ever take that blessing from him or her. It’s with them throughout their lives and I firmly believe some good, at a later stage, will come from the baptism.

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that seals the baptism. Nothing I do or say makes the ceremony sacred. The outward signs of water and word are religiously performed; the Holy Spirit is invoked to bless the water and the child – only when that happens, outwardly and inwardly does a true baptism take place. Heaven and earth meet when the innocence of the child encounters the holiness of God. It’s a wonderful moment and a sanctified time.

The riches of God’s kindness are bestowed upon the baby and parents. It is not a time of judgment, but a memorable moment of God’s love. It’s a modern equivalent of Christ saying, “Let the little ones come to me.”

I wish that more babies in our community were baptized and that the grace of God was bestowed upon them in this remarkable and miraculous way. These precious little ones not only have the right to life, they also have the right to be sanctified. I will do my utmost to baptize as many as I possibly can before I am called to glory.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the sacrament of baptism and for the many babies and children who receive this blessing in our churches. Help us to reach out to other families in our community and offer them this precious gift. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

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