Philip's Focus: Week of September 4

The Meaning of Baptism
This weekend, Karen and I will be hosting some of our family for Labor Day Weekend. This is always good to have the children and their families visit. This weekend is very special! My daughter Mallory and son in law Brian have asked me to baptize our new Granddaughter, Amelia Jane Wilson, here at Shalimar UMC at the 9:30am service. Wow, I get to be a grandad and pastor all in one Sunday!

As a pastor, I have baptized hundreds of infants, children, youth, and adults. This week I am especially mindful of the meaning of baptism.

Maybe, some of you are interested to know more about baptism. Here are some teachings that answer many of the questions you might have about baptism in the United Methodist tradition.

 - Baptism is something God does for us.  Bishop Will Willimon instructs we are the receiver in baptism and God is the Actor. The minister facilitates what God is doing in baptism. The person being baptized is the receiver of what God is doing.

- Baptism is not for washing away our sins. Think about it if we received forgiveness through baptism water…we would have to be “hosed down” every Sunday! Communion is the sacrament focused more on forgiveness as we take the cup that is symbolic of the blood of Jesus.

- Baptism is an initiation. Jesus was baptized and He had no sin. When Jesus was baptized by John, He was about to begin public ministry.

- Infant baptism in the United Methodist Church is not to be confused with “christening.” When we use water, we are baptizing the child. As the saying goes, we christen ships and baptize people!

- One baptism is good for life. Baptism is something God does, and He always does an excellent job. Baptism does not have to be repeated. If you have already been baptized numerous times, what do you do? You give the extra ones back! Just kidding! :) God knows how to sort through the different denominations teaching of baptism. Of course, God looks to our heart anyway!

- The baptism of infants is an option in the United Methodist Church. (This is not required). Parents can choose to wait for their child to profess their own faith. This many times happens at confirmation age.

- Adult baptism can happen at any age. A person can profess their faith in Christ at any age. I have baptized people over 80 years old. We are never too old to profess our faith in Jesus and be baptized.

- There are three methods of baptism in the United Methodist Church: sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Any method is permissible. The meaning of baptism in Christ is always the focus beyond the method.

If you have any additional questions, please let me or one of the pastors know. Amelia’s baptism this Sunday has me excited about one of the greatest things my ordination allows me to do… baptize. Plus, I will get to be Grandad! Have a great Labor Day Weekend!



Abigail Denney

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