“Because of the gracious love so perfectly revealed in the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
And so it begins. A life with God- among his people and in God’s story. It is a precious moment to be a part of, sacred even. And I got to to do it this past Saturday. Two twins at my NICU, both barely new to the world and fragilely in critical condition. The parents invited me to baptize their babies, fresh into the world and perhaps soon to be exiting. But that baptism meant so much. To them, and to me, it meant that they were inviting God into their lives in a significant way, as well as naming God’s precious and fragile grace to them. It also reflected welcome and love. It was all those parents could do for those children- they could baptize them and share in my prayer that God would hold their children in his arms like he has done for all other creatures during their dark and fragile times. It betrayed a sense of desperation and uncertainty- for the world was caving in on these parents and all they could think was God’s mysterious presence in the world and meant that even in their short moments these precious babies might not be alone and without love- and that presence was given even if they are not aware.
I imagine though in those times that I baptize that in those small little hearts and minds, they hear the voice of God who tells them, “Little child, I am here, and I always was and will be.” It is not that God wasn’t there before, but now they have been announced and welcomed into the kingdom of God. It is like a noisemaking toy before a baby is forgotten when a child looks away. The toy is still there like God’s presence, but that baby may not know it. Maybe then it is as though at baptism God’s voice whispers to that baby, “Little child, I am here, and so are my people- here for you, my little child.” Maybe I am off on that. Perhaps. Nonetheless, I know that in baptism the people watching and the parents affirming are making steps of faith, proclaiming their gift and announcing their desires, and confessing God’s mysterious presence in the world, even when little day old babies die. That’s sacred. That’s worth participating in.