As we make our way through studying the book of Acts, we see it time and again. Literally, thousands come to faith and are baptized as the Spirit of God sweeps souls into the emerging church. Whole families were baptized in one fell swoop– grandparents, parents, young adults, children and infants. The precedent is clear.
Baptism is always appropriate at any age. Most commonly, we baptize infants or children here in our Reformed-Congregational tradition. But I, for example, was baptized as an adult, because my parents took care to get their firstborn baptized but forgot to do so with the next two sons. Why that was, I’m not quite sure. But as one baptized as an adult, I had both daughters baptized as infants. Go figure.
In every confirmation class, we have one or two young persons who have not yet been baptized. In many new member classes, we find members who await the sacrament of baptism. They sometimes act shy about this, being in the minority. I charge them to stand tall, get baptized, and fully embrace and enjoy it as a gift of God’s favor. It is not about when. Neither is it about how much water is used. It’s about how God knows, claims, and favors us one at a time as God’s beloved.
For the families who look to adult baptism–also known as believer’s baptism–a service of celebration, presentation, and dedication marks the birth of their child. Such will be the case this Sunday as Gary and Erica Morello bring forward their sweet Arianna Grace. As you can imagine, their family and friends will be with us.
Last night Cecile and I sat with the Morellos enjoying a delicious chili that Gary had prepared. Arianna sat next to Cecile and myself, her eyes dancing, watching us carefully, making the precious muted charming sounds that only infants make. The beautiful serenity of this child is something that communicates itself in how Arianna looks at you. Gary notices she doesn’t so much look at you as looks right into your soul. It would be disarming if it were not so touching, tender and sweet.
So I reminded Gary of something that Arianna’s pediatrician says about children. “If they radiate God’s presence, it’s because they have just come from being with God.” Indeed part of our attraction to an infant like Arianna is how close to God she seems and how she communicates that so eloquently yet without any words.
As we present, celebrate, and dedicate Arianna we purpose together to grow and build her relationship with God, when it ceases to be so intuitive as for newborns. We lift her up against that day to own the covenant of faith in her own time and by her own decision. We connect her baptism with her decision to follow Christ.
How beautiful this is! How honored I feel to lift her before God and pronounce the destiny God had in mind for Arianna even as he knitted her in Erica’s womb. We dwell in a land of signs and wonders, friends, miracles and little epiphanies. The quest continues on Sunday as together we dedicate Arianna Grace Morello.