Summary: This is a brief baptism sermon highlighting the themes of forgiveness and belonging
Forgiveness and Belonging – A Baptism Sermon
There’s a story of a minister who like most ministers, conducted a lot of baptisms using the phrase, as we do, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. One weekend his family went to a friend’s home in the country.
Their four children went outside to play with the others. After a short while, they heard only silence and wondered what the children were up to. They were found behind a barn quietly playing "church."
Their 4-year-old daughter Susan was conducting the baptismal service. She held a cat over a barrel of water.
Trying to be as solemn as her father, she repeated the phrase she had heard many times: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and in the hole he goes!"
Misunderstandings about baptism aside, today is a big day. It is a day when infants will be given to God in dedication and baptism, their parents making a promise to God before this congregation to raise their children in the Christian faith and in the love and fear of God.
It is a day when 3 youths and a young gentleman will personally vow to follow Jesus – to live their whole lives as Christ-followers, people who follow the Way of Jesus – the teachings of Jesus, the life of Jesus, all for the glory of Jesus.
Scripture gives us at least two dominant ideas about baptism. Forgiveness and Belonging
Acts 2: 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Right before this, the Apostle Peter told a story recounting some recent history that caused the people listening to understand both their sinfulness and their need for God. So they asked: What shall we do?
When God moves in a life He reveals His love. He reveals His goodness. He reveals His holiness. And at the same time when God moves in a life He reveals to a person his or her need for God.
God reveals what’s in a person’s heart, the darkness that’s there. The sinfulness that’s there. The absence from that life of fullness of joy simply because God is not yet in control of that life.
But also the persons belovedness to God is revealed, just how much affection God has for the person. How willing God is to do anything to prove His love. And in the midst of all this revealing, God gives an invitation.
It is an invitation based on the cross. The one who is the object of God’s great love, who’s ears and mind and heart have been opened by God to the gospel starts to understand that the journey to the cross that Jesus made was for them. For her. For him. Christ’s body broken, His blood spilled. All for the love of me and you.
The invitation is to receive the gift of God’s love expressed in Jesus Christ. To change the direction of one’s life. To receive the forgiveness and cleansing of God. To turn away from sin – that is anything and everything that offends God – and to turn to God.
To repent, to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. That’s the invitation open to all. And today parents on behalf of children promise to raise their children in the knowledge of this amazing truth.
And four people also choose to publicly confess what they have personally already believed – that they have given over their lives to Jesus Christ. Because of this, they are already forgiven, already cleansed.
1 Cor 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Peter 2: 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Belonging is the second strong theme of Scripture about baptism.
Each person who will be baptized here today is baptized in the name of Jesus, and, very importantly, INTO the body of Christ.
In a sense this baptism formalizes and solemnizes the belonging of each one as part of the body of Jesus on earth – the church, the church universal.