Thursday, January 22, 2015

Infant Baptism: The Beginning of a Topic

*** A recent Facebook discussion among pastors on my (Nazarene) district, has prompted me to re-post a four part series on Infant Baptism.  This series was originally posted in 2008.***

In my previous post on The Great Triduum, I mentioned that during our main service of Easter Worship at Grace Church of the Nazarene, I had the great privilege of baptizing. The person that I baptized was a nine-month old little boy. His parents, having previously been baptized, also took the opportunity to renew their own baptismal vows.

It was a wonderful and joyous time. The church was packed with people (not a few of whom were family members of the child being baptized)! Of course, there was the cuteness factor! The little boy slept through most of the ritual . . . until the water was poured on his head! Then he awoke with three little sneezes. The congregation laughed and awed.

But beyond the cuteness factor, there was great meaning in that part of worship; meaning for the parents and their extended family; meaning for the congregation, and, indeed, the entire Body of Christ; and meaning for that little nine-month old child. - There was meaning, not only because the people involved filled the event with their own perceived meaning, but there was meaning, because God was there and at work through that Holy Sacrament.

In talking about baptizing that nine-month old, it strikes me that not everyone out there knows why we baptize babies. In fact, it strikes me that there are countless members of my own denomination that don't even know that we do baptize babies (I used to be one of them, prior to college!), because the ritual of Infant Dedication has often replaced the sacrament of Baptism for infants in many Nazarene settings. (A fact which I, personally, lament.) Therefore, I hope to write a series of posts during the upcoming days concerning infant baptism. - I hope to briefly put the practice of Nazarenes baptizing babies in historical context. I will explain why I, and other Wesleyan/Methodist Christians, practice infant Baptism. And I will touch on what I believe is going on in the sacrament of infant Baptism.

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