Remember Your Baptism

I think the church ought to remind its members frequently of their baptism. If the mission of the church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ, then baptism is at the heart of our mission (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38-39).

One reason that Christians think so little of baptism is that we hide it away and think of it seldom. Out of sight, out of mind. Let’s keep God’s gift of baptism in plain sight so that it can begin to shape our thinking about what it means to be a Christian.

We ought to be framing our worship in terms of our baptism. We are gathered together in Christ because we have been united to him in baptism. Our liturgy of gathering should make this explicit. At the close of worship, we are sent into the world as Christ’s representatives; our baptism is our ordination for service in the world in Christ’s name. Our dismissal liturgies should also make this explicit.

And most of all, baptism should be the foundation of our approaching the Lord’s table. Yes, I know that Wesley viewed communion as a converting ordnance. But, if the unbaptized might occasionally have a guest’s place at the meal, the baptized belong there every time the table is set. Communion is something like a family reunion or holiday dinner. Yes, we sometimes have guests at at dining room table and we want them to feel at home, but there is a difference between a guest and a member of the family. Our liturgies should make the ordinary connection between baptism and communion clear. Baptism is beginning in Christ and union with Christ. Communion is continuing in Christ and participation in Christ.

In addition to the words of our liturgies, the church should visually remind the baptized of their baptism.The baptismal font “serves as a visible reminder of our union with Christ.” It should have prominent place in the church’s worship space. Likewise, the art with which we decorate our worship spaces should remind people of their baptism.

The Catholic practice of placing Holy Water at the entrance of the sanctuary is a good one I think – except I wouldn’t call it holy water and I would place a little sign above it that said, “Remember your baptism.” It would be easy, I suppose, for this practice to become some sort of superstition, as if the water itself had magical powers. There have been many times, though, that I have wanted to dip my finger in the water and make the sign of the cross just as a way of affirming to myself who I am: I am baptized.

Godparents ought to constantly remind their godchildren that they are baptized.

The ancient practice of aspersion – sprinkling water on the congregation – can also remind the faithful of their baptism. This one, I would use sparingly.

And on a more modern note, the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City gives its members a plastic card to hang in the shower. The words on the card are a prayer, thanking God for one’s baptism,  and asking – as one begins one’s day – for God’s blessing and for the power to be faithful to the God’s covenant in Christ.

Lord, as I enter the water to bathe
I remember my baptism.
Wash me by your grace.
Fill me with your Spirit.
Renew my soul.
I pray that I might live as your child today,
and honor you in all that I do.
Church of the Resurrection Shower Prayer

Now not everyone may want to remember that they are baptized. Those who were baptized as infants may not wish to claim it, and even those who were baptized as adults might want to run from it. Some people may not want to participate in a church that frequently reminds them of who they are in Christ. If reminding people that they are baptized forces them to claim or reject their baptism, I don’t really have a problem with that!

Baptism is God’s gift for incorporating believers into Christ and the church. We should treasure this gift of God.

Remember your that you are baptized, and be thankful.