When we have something worth celebrating, we need to celebrate it! As the dreary days of January turn to February then turn to March, as winter drags on, there’s always a time for celebration. What a gift God has given us in our baptisms, something worth not just remembering daily, but celebrating daily. Here at Our Savior, we love baptisms. They are always an exciting addition to a Sunday service, as we get to welcome the newest member of God’s family and Our Savior! In baptism God adopts us as His children, and we receive this gift joyously, as God gives it freely.
In baptism, we receive several gifts, wrapped up into this one divine gift, given through ordinary water with the Word of God. We receive the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and eternal life (Romans 6:4). What a great gift and joy baptism is and definitely worth celebrating! In baptism we are washed clean of our sins, and made righteous before God. (Titus 3:5-7) The Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, works saving faith within us, and helps us to grow and be strengthened in our faith. Finally, we receive eternal life. As we are baptized into Christ, into His death, the words from Paul ring true, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)
What a joy that is! What a wondrous gift we’ve been given by our Heavenly Father, as he adopts us into His family, and gives us that new birth, that regeneration. We hear Jesus talking about this new birth in His conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order for one to be saved, they must be born again. Nicodemus is very unsure about what Jesus means. Jesus explains it this way in John 3:5-6, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” When we are baptized, we are made new creations, and we are given new life, a life to live as holy, chosen people of God.
If you have been given a new birth, then you have to celebrate that. Going from enemies of God to part of His family and heirs to the eternal heavenly kingdom?? That is worth celebrating!
Here at OSL, that is exactly what we did.
This past calendar year, 2021, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we had 33 baptisms. 33! That is a huge number. A big year here is hitting double digits. 33, that is a great number, and all thanks be to God for that. Of that number, we had 6 adults, 14 infants, and 13 students. Normally we would expect to have a majority of infants, but this past calendar year we had more students and adults than infants. Thanks be to God for the ministry that we are able to do through our school and early childhood center.
At the beginning of December, there was a meeting with some volunteers, and the planning for the Baptism Birthday party was underway. One of the major things we had to decide, was how do we celebrate this gift of God? As any good party goes, we knew we would need a few key items. Refreshments, cake of some kind, and a gift bag. We had a great spread of each of these. We had some wonderful refreshments, some cupcakes to keep things a little more individualized, and a gift bag for each of those who were baptized. And on January 9th, as we celebrated the baptism of Jesus in our services, during our coffee hour, we celebrated.
In the gift bags we had several items to celebrate and remind those baptized of their baptism. One of the main things, were two baptismal stickers. One was a sticker reminding, “I am Jesus little lamb.” This is a great reminder, that we are made children of God, sheep of our Great Shepherd. The other sticker that each baptized person received, was, “God’s own child I’ll gladly say it, I’ve been baptized into Christ.” This reminds of that great gift of being adopted into God’s family.
We also had a baptismal Chrismon in each gift bag as well. It was in the shape of a star with a cross in the middle. This “Christ monogram,” was another reminder of how through baptism, we are baptized into Christ, His death and resurrection.
Along with other small candies in the bag, we also had an age appropriate gift. All of our students and infants under the age of 8 received a stuffed lamb. This is a reminder that we are lambs of God, and at the same time, something for those children to be able to physically hold onto and cling to, reminding them of their faith in Christ.
The students that were between the ages of 11 and 14, received a wall cross that they could put up in their rooms, and have as a daily reminder of their baptism into the death of Christ. Finally, the adults received a devotional booklet. This is a way for them to continue to grow in their faith at a deeper level.
Why was this a focus for us here at Our Savior? Because it is absolutely something worth celebrating. When we receive gifts, we celebrate. When we see God working in our lives, we celebrate. When something amazing happens to our family or friends, we celebrate! If you have all three of these things happening at once, we have to celebrate! We give thanks to our God and Father, who invites us to come to the font, who invites us to partake in this sacrament, who invites us into His family. We celebrate the gift of God because HE gives us this gift freely, that we may receive forgiveness of sins, redemption and regeneration, and ultimately eternal salvation with our God and our King. Does that seem worthy of celebrating? Absolutely.