Baptism has been on my mind today. This Sunday I will be baptising four infants. We seem to be having a rush of Baptisms here in Bideford. Anyhow today a batch of Baptismal Certificates arrived which I had ordered from the Methodist Publishing House. With them was a copy of the Methodist Worship Book (1999). I ordered this because for the first time since it came out, I am not at either a church or college which possesses copies of it for me to 'borrow.' Here we are still using the Methodist Service Book which dates back to 1975 and that is likely to continue as we are not in the right financial situation to make such an investment at present.
Anyhow I found myself perusing the 'Baptism of Young Children' service. This service reminds why I am a Methodist. There are two things I particularly like;
1/. The Baptism takes place before the vows and so is not conditional upon them.
2/. Before the Baptism the minister says to the child who is to be baptised
for you Jesus Christ came into the world;
for you he lived and showed God's love;
for you he suffered death on the Cross;
for you he triumphed over death,
rising to newness of life;
for you he prays at God's right hand:
all this for you,
before you could know anything of it.
In your Baptism,
the word of Scripture is fulfilled:
'We love, because God first loved us.'
To me those are beautiful words. They remind me of the imensity of God's love for us. But what takes my breath away is that this love of God comes to us before we are able to do anything to deserve it. It is pure Grace! A verse of Scripture that always been special to me comes from St Paul's letter to the Romans Chapter 5 Verse 8;
But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
It all reminds us that God makes the first move of love towards us. Why? Because amazing as it might seem, God sees us all as absolutely special. That surely is something that those of us who struggle with low self esteem need to remember.
Well I am glad to be conducting a service of Infant Baptism on Sunday. It is not just about getting 'the child done.' It is about celebrating the extraordinary love of God and the valuing of all people even the most helpless child.