By Scott Keith –
10 April 2016
I love you. You were born 7 April 2016, and you were baptized into Christ today. When I first saw you, my heart leaped for joy. I had many of the same feelings looking at you as I did when I first saw your dad, Uncle Josh, and Aunt Autumn after they were born. But, seeing you was, in some ways, different. When I saw you, I not only rejoiced for myself and your Grandmother, but I got to celebrate with your Dad and Mom as well. You are their child, and by that, I am your Grandfather.
Your Baptism today was a glorious event. In an odd bit of serendipity, just this week, my students at the University asked me why Baptism is so important. I used you as an example; I hope you don’t mind. I told them that because you were to Baptized, we––those who love you the most––have complete assurance that upon your Baptism you are God’s child. He has claimed you, made you His, redeemed you from sin, death, and the power of the devil. You, my dearest Esther, are God’s child! Though you belong to your Mom and Dad, your Heavenly Father, for the sake of Christ, has put you in His hand and will never let you go.
Later on, as you grow and as your mom and dad catechize you in the Christian faith, you’ll learn that the words of Scripture are clear. Matthew 28 says: “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.” The book of Acts tells us in Chapter 2: “Repent and be baptized [passive imperative] every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord calls to Himself.” The Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter Chapter 3: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul says in Romans Chapter 6: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were 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. For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like his.” And finally, he also tells us in Titus chapter 3: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
You see, God wanted you to be His child. He used ordinary things like water and words from Pastor Rhode’s lips to make you His own. I love you so much, and seeing the life-giving water and the Word pour over your head, cleansing you of all of your sin, made me cry. Nothing could make me prouder of your Mom and Dad than watching them bring you to the saving waters of Holy Baptism. For that, and for all other things that He brings about for your benefit, I say: “Thanks be to God!”
I leave you today with the words from a hymn that I once used to comfort a friend of mine who had lost one of his children. The words bring comfort and peace to me, and I hope to your Mom and Dad because they clearly present the truth of what happens when a sinner is brought before God in Holy Baptism. I won’t print all of the stanzas here, just a few to help you remember what happened that day.
“God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!”
“Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!”
Esther, your life is an amazing gift from God, and an earthly death will not have the last word with you. You are baptized into Christ! Satan can rage and rail against you, but his words are empty threats. None of his accusations will ever have victory over you; you have traveled to the font, and at that font He, and sin, and death, have come unraveled and have been washed away in the waters of life. You, dear Esther, are baptized into Christ.
I love you my dearest Esther, and I write this so that one day you’ll read it and remember the miracle that brought you to life eternal. Your life in this world and in the next are a gracious gift from God given to all of us on account of Christ. I thank Him so much that He has given you to your Mom and Dad, and in a different way to your Grandma and me to love and to cherish. We praise Him for when we succeeded in fulfilling our vocations as parents and grandparents, and we ask for His and your forgiveness for when we fail.
Please know that I am always here for you and that I love you.