Baptism is one of the happiest events in our church. The candidates sit in white robes together looking like angels through the service. I love when children are baptized. Yesterday, my great nephew, Jacob, who is nine, stepped into the baptismal fount.
The family took two rows. The worship songs rang happily, even the hymn was a favorite, It Is Well. A great song to sing with its echo. Pastor Ken, witty and insightful in the word, preached on the final decision about Jesus ascending into Heaven and what to do when told to wait. He spun great baptism stories. He left us hanging by not having time to tell a story, "I really like that one." We have to come back next week.
The candidates then exit to their side of the fount, females one way, males the other side. They make their confession of faith in Jesus, pastor asks them if they have anything else to say. Most don't. Not Jacob. He smiled and cried out, "I love Jesus!" Then splash, he comes up wet and we sing a chorus of joy.
Joy fills the church with every dripping saint. The songs cheer, the congregation claps. Then the white gauzy curtain closes. The baptisms are over until the fall.
I grew up with baby baptisms. They, too, were joyful, but more at seeing precious babies and small children and their reactions to the trickling of water. Adults were sometimes baptized. My father chose the sacrament when Diane, as a baby, was baptized. My friend, Sherry, had the water sprinkled on her head when we joined the church as communicant members.
Baptism is a public sign of commitment to Christ. With immersion, it is seen as an act of obedience. With infant, the family is committing the child to Christian upbringing. I felt sad that sometimes,we never saw the families again. It appeared to be a social act, not so much a personal step of faith.
Baptism doesn't save a person. It is a symbol. Faith in Jesus and allowing Him to be Lord of one's life is the saving grace. But still such joy when the public confession fills the sanctuary, like Jacob's big smile and declaration of "I love Jesus!"