On Sunday, January 9, we will focus on the baptism of Jesus on this special day often referred to as “Baptism of the Lord” Sunday and conclude with a congregational reaffirmation of our individual baptisms. Part of the liturgy we will use includes an invitation for us to “remember your baptism and be thankful.”
I was just over 6 months old when I was baptized. No, I don’t remember any of it.
In fact, when I was starting the process toward ordination, I needed to know when I was baptized – it was a question on one of the many, many forms I filled out. I didn’t know. It was celebrated annually, like my birthday or other events. So, I called my mom. She said I was “christened.” Ok. But was I baptized? (Mind you, I did go through confirmation and did not get baptized at that time). She wouldn’t say anything other than I was baptized.
That isn’t exactly true. She did talk about the day of my christening (turns out, it was a baptism – that was just the more modern name for it). It was 1966 and we were living in Baker, Louisiana. My mom’s parents, my grandparents, drove up from Kingsville, Texas to be there for the big event. It also happened to be Easter Sunday. When it was time during the service, the whole family came up front – me, my parents, my sister, and my grandparents. The pastor, at some point, looked at me, six months old, probably wearing some kind of white infant gown thing, and asked…is it a boy or a girl? According to my mother, my grandmother had a bit of a fit.
I don’t remember my baptism, just that story.
Needless to say, the first time I recall being asked to “remember my baptism and be thankful,” I didn’t know what to do. Could I reaffirm what I didn’t remember?
The short answer is, yes, you can. The statement just isn’t worded right, especially for us infant baptizing Methodists. It isn’t remember the day you were baptized and all that happened, how you felt about it. It’s remember THAT you are baptized and the significance of that public declaration that you absolutely, completely, irrevocably are God’s Beloved Child. Remember who you are and who you belong to.
That is why I start every worship service the way I do – by pouring the water and reminding you of God’s claim on your life. God really does look upon you, every single moment, and declares “You are mine. You are holy, You are sacred. You are worthy. You are valued.” You are God’s beloved child. When you are invited to remember [that] you are baptized, remember that. Even when you aren’t invited to remember [that] you are baptized, remember that. It’s who you are. Thank God!