I enjoyed a rare experience recently as I was honored to baptize my youngest grandaughter in church in front of family, friends, and God. On Sunday September 20th, (which was also my birthday - talk about blessings piled upon blessings!) my family gathered in our church, St. John's United Methodist Church in Columbus Grove, Ohio, as I baptized 5-month old Jillian Christine Saris. It was a beautifal fall day as my daughter Bethany, husband Matt, and eldest grandaughter Alexa (Lexi) presented the newest member of their family to the family of God.
I wanted to do something a bit different to commemorate the occasion, so during my sermon I presented three perspectives of baptism. The first was from the perspective of the church, or the pastor's point of view. Dressed in my robe, I talked about how baptism is a command of God. "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19 It is where God forgives us of our sins. It is where we are "buried with Christ and raised with Him." It represents our death to our old self and to sin, and our rising to new life in Christ.
Then I removed my robe and put my suit jacket back on, and talked about baptism from the perspective of a Christian. I shared how baptism is a public act of obedience to the Will of God...how baptism washes away the old and prepares us for a new life in God. It is a sign of repentence for us, and a symbol of forgiveness from God.
Finally, I took off my jacket, loosened my tie and rolled up my shirtsleeves...I wanted to share my thoughts on baptism from the perspective of a grandfather. I talked about how giving your children to God is a confirmation of our love for God and for the child. I explained that giving our children to God is a clarification of ownership, declaring that our children, and our grandchildren are truly gifts from God. I shared that giving our children to God is a commitment to raise our children in the knowledge and with the help of God. And finally, I shared how giving our children to God is a claiming of God's plan and promises for that child.
Allow me to close this post with this observation...God truly blesses those who put their trust and faith in him. Nola and I consider ourselves to be blessed beyond measure. We love our children (Bethany, Ben, and Brittany) dearly and would do most anything for them. We have embraced our sons-in-law (Matt and Matt) and have found them to be caring, thoughtful men who demonstrate love and devoted attention to their families. And we deeply love our granddaughters (Alexa, Kaitlyn, Jillian, and a player to be named in March!) Knowing that as grandparents we are an integral part of their lives and development is both humbling and joyous.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
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