“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Madeline was a precocious, curly-haired 3-year-old who couldn’t stand or sit still. I had no idea how her baptism would go. But if the rehearsal was any indication, this sacramental moment would be a challenge. Neither I, nor Madeline’s parents, could convince her to stay still long enough to get the water sprinkled on her head. Madeline was more interested in rolling under church pews and running up and down the burgundy carpeted aisles.
When the time came for her actual baptism, Madeline’s father brought her forward holding her squirming body tight in his arms-his face determined. We would get this blessed child baptized! I rushed through the liturgy as fast as I appropriately could. Madeline’s parents and her church family promised to encourage, guide and nurture her in following Christ. I removed the lid from the font and dipped my hand. Then, a miracle occurred. Madeline, her eyes widening in wonder, stopped wiggling and grew still. Placing my wet hand on top of her head, I recited the baptismal liturgy: “Madeline, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Child of the covenant, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” Madeline, still quiet, gave me a small, affirmative nod, as I concluded, “Amen.”
It is a wonder what happens to us in Jesus Christ. Through the waters of baptism, we die to our old selves and arise as new creations, our lives dedicated to the one who claims and calls us. Our lives transformed by a covenant of love.
Examine: Do you remember your baptism? Or the baptism of a friend or family member? Recall the scene. The words of liturgy said. The promises made. Breathe. Notice thoughts and feelings that arise.
Imagine: Imagine Jesus leading you into the river Jordan. He leans you back to immerse you, the water closing over your face and rushing past your ears. Jesus quickly lifts you up, out of the water, wet, cold and gasping a you hear the words, “Child of the covenant, sealed by the waters of baptism, you are Christ’s own forever.” What does newness in Christ feel like?
Pray: Free me for joy, O God, so I can live with gratitude.