the hidden glory of baptism

This past Sunday, our daughters were baptized by Seth. I was surprised only that I did not cry. I had a delayed response – all the emotions broke through Monday evening, which is a fairly typical emotional pattern for me. But what a moment it was! It has been good to reflect on the poignancy of their baptism – and I imagine that I will be doing so for quite awhile.

As an introduction, in the Presbyterian church we do not believe that baptism saves in and of itself, but that it is a sign that our daughters are part of the visible church because they were born to Christian parents. This means that they will  not be communing members of the church until they each make a step of faith for themselves – saying that they personally need Jesus to forgive them of their sin. As I was reviewing its meaning, I found this quote from “On Being Presbyterian” by Sean Michael Lucas helpful:

“The sign of baptism is rooted in God’s larger unchanging purpose in human history. From the very beginning, God has been redeeming a people for his own possession and for his own glory. While God certainly calls individuals to himself, he has, from the very beginning, especially emphasized the relationship of professing believers and their households, and their place within his larger and unchanging purpose of redemption. … [baptism] is  God’s act of initiating us into his visible people … because God’s promise is offered ‘for you and your children’ (Acts 2:39).”

Lucia and Alethia’s baptism seemed to be  as much about Seth and my promises to raise them in a gospel-saturated home as it was about their receiving the sacrament of baptism. Below are the vows that we made:

We acknowledge our child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit.

We claim God’s covenant promises in her behalf, and we look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for her salvation, as we do for our own.

We now unreservedly dedicate our child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that we will endeavor to set before her a godly example, that we will pray with and for her, that we will teach her the doctrines of our holy religion, and that we will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

So with all of that said, below is a poetic musing on this past Sunday –

ordinary moments become
extraordinary
water, sprinkled, dripping down
the sweet innocent
baby skin

claiming the promise
that the sin hidden beneath
such innocence
needs a Savior
she who is yet unaware
will need the grace
poured upon her
like the water
from her father’s hand

she will need Grace
from her Father’s hand
coming through the
nail-pierced hands of
His Son
to save and to cleanse
like the water alone cannot.

the water does not cleanse
it sets them apart
by grace through faith
for grace
through their faith one day
in the Savior they need –
the One we need
to make such vows.

they smile
wriggle
look curiously
as the water drips down
“an odd time for a bath, Daddy!”
if they could speak
they will not remember
this moment
but we will
and all who witnessed it
we are to testify
to this sacrament
to fulfill our promises
to them.

as they are unaware
and receive this gift
unasked for
unacknowledged
I see myself in them.

This is grace: I accept
the gift I don’t know I need
I am unaware
as my Father pours his mercy upon me.

dressed in white
simple elegance
a picture of the Bride
awaiting her Groom
and we pray she will
know His voice
when she is old enough
that she will see
His love pursuing her
that she will say “yes”
“I do”
this is all we ask.

and I walk away
feeling as if I have
witnessed
glory
hidden
in a common
ordinary moment
taking on
eternal meaning
by the grace of a glorious God.

5 thoughts on “the hidden glory of baptism

  1. Oh, Heather!! Looks like your time tonight was very rich. What a gorgeous and meaningful poem. I love your heart and sanctified mind. Xoxo

  2. so much meaning hidden in baptism… I love the picture of grace, seeing yourself in how the girls don’t know they need it yet and God pours out his mercy generously. and how cool that Seth got to administer the sacrament and represent their heavenly Father! thanks for sharing this 🙂

  3. Heather, reading your words gives me chills. Such beauty and truth. We’ve had our children baptized too. What a precious momement, and yes, just as much for us as parents as for our children. And how amazing that Seth had the privilege of baptizing them. I rejoice with you!

  4. Pingback: an open letter to my daughters: reflections on three-years-old | hidden glory

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