Cana Adele, Child of God

Today my daughter was baptized.  It was a wonderful celebration – my wife presided, godparents (four of them!) and family surrounded her with love, and the congregation welcomed her into the church.  Add to that a nice reception at the church and pizza back at home on an unseasonably warm late November day, and it was a great day to celebrate the things God is and will do through Cana.

Yet I would be remiss if I did not admit to some curiosity – doubt? – about what it is that happens in baptism.  Is baptism a symbol, a ritual that gives life and gesture to what God has already done in her life?  Put another way, was this event purely social in nature, a rite of passage, a ritual of introduction into a community of shared values and beliefs?  Or is baptism a true means of grace – an event through which God acts in a unique and timely way?  In this way, are the water and words of this sacrament hokus pokus, a significant act of immense proportions that somehow affects a dramatic change in the child’s relationship with God and with the faith community?  What does this baptism mean?

I can analyze and deconstruct baptism, reducing it to mere human creation and opiate for the masses.  But I wont.  Whether baptism is a symbol made of human hands, or a true bath from the hands of God, it is for me a holy moment when the promise of God is spoken.

For without the Word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the Word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a "bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit," as St Paul says to Titus in chapter 3."
– Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Baptism (from Wengert/Kolb translation of The Book of Concord)

Baptism is a holy moment, a grace-filled water of life, a bath of new birth in the Holy Spirit.  I know that God has blessed my child since before she was formed in the womb, and will continue to bless her whether or not she is baptized.  But she is baptized, and I pray that her baptism will be a comfort to her as it was to Luther, who said in his Large Catechism

We must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: "But I am baptized!  And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body."
– Large Catechism, Baptism 44 (from Wengert/Kolb translation of The Book of Concord)

She is baptized!  She has received the bath of new life, and heard God’s words of promise.  On this she can most certainly depend and draw strength.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
This entry was posted in Faith & the Church, Family, Lutheran, Vocation. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Cana Adele, Child of God

  1. LP says:

    That is awesome. Congratulations!
    Just out of curiosity, how was it for your wife to baptize your daughter? We had talked about me baptizing our baby, but feared that may divorce me from fully participating in the rite as a parent. I would be interested to know how you two made the decision you did.

  2. I’ll ask my wife to comment on that, but for me it was beautiful and intimate and just plain wonderful. Thanks!

  3. LP – I agree with my husband, baptizing our baby was a wonderful and intimate gift. I loved looking into her smiling eyes and pouring the water over her head as if I was washing her in the bathtub. Had I fully embraced the moment I wouldn’t have been able to read the prayer which followed since my heart was already full — holding the tears at bay. Knowing what those promises mean…at least in the partial way LZ and I are struggling and seeking to understand baptism…I had a particularly “Luther-like” moment. “Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead it is water enclosed in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.” That was cool.
    Oh yes…I can’t believe I forgot to mention this to LZ…you will appreciate knowing that your daughter let out a little fart just as I said her name: “Cana Adele, I baptize you…”
    Go devil Go…far, far away! Babe, she is your daughter!
    As for the day — I’ll blog about that and my “role” at ecclesiacrucis.typepad.com.

  4. LP says:

    It sounds like a wonderful moment! Thanks for sharing with me, EC.

  5. Paul Lutz says:

    Congratulations, Chris, Jessicah and Tally.
    As a preacher I noticed you didn’t mention the preacher or the sermon at Cana Adele’s baptism. I think preaching at baptisms is the most important aspect of parish ministry. What was that like to hear a word from another and did it speak to baptism?
    I also baptized both of my daughters as well as preached when they were welcomed into the church. We have the recordings of these decade old events. They inspire me and keep me humble both at the same time.
    Blessing this Advent and Christmas.
    Peace,
    pl

  6. Paul Lutz says:

    Congratulations, Chris, Jessicah and Tally.
    As a preacher I noticed you didn’t mention the preacher or the sermon at Cana’s baptism. I think preaching at baptisms is the most important aspect of parish ministry. What was that like to hear a word from another and did it speak to baptism?
    I also baptized both of my daughters as well as preached when they were welcomed into the church. We have the recordings of these decade old events. They inspire me and keep me humble both at the same time.
    Blessing this Advent and Christmas.
    Peace,
    pl

  7. Lemonholm says:

    Congratulations and God’s blessing on Cana Adele and her family!
    I baptized my daughter in the hospital on her birthday, before she was whisked to the NICU. My wife and I will never forget that experience. We knew that she was a beloved child whether or not she was baptized, but that physical act, joined with the word of God, sealed that promise of God, and the Holy Spirit was present with us in that holy moment.

  8. LP says:

    We have a provision for an “emergency” baptism written in our birth plan in the event that we experience something similair. I trust everything turned out ok?

  9. Lemonholm says:

    Yes, thank you. Four days of platelet transfusions, and she was in the clear! We certainly learned of the gift of life, and also the gift of modern medicine which, for all its limits, saved our daughter’s life (actually, alert and capable doctors and nurses saved her life using the tools of medicine).

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