Ever since I started my ministry I’ve kept a little notebook with a record of all the baptisms, weddings, and funerals that I have done. After updating it, I found that the baby I baptized last weekend was my 19th baptism. They were mostly babies, but there has been one adult and a couple of older children.
Nineteen may or may not sound like a lot. (I think it’s quite a few for being the pastor of a small church.) But the point really isn’t the number. And I don’t bring up the number to brag or to speak of these baptisms as if they’re my accomplishment. They’re not. At all.
Baptism is God’s work. He made these people his own through their baptism. He made them his own children by faith. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. (Gal. 3:26-27) God adopted these baptized people. He wrapped them in the perfection that Jesus accomplished for them. He made them his children by faith.
This list of people I baptized is a great comfort for me. I don’t always feel like I’ve done a good job as a pastor. I see my shortcomings and sins all too easily and clearly. But when I look at that list, I can see how God has used me, his imperfect servant, to bring his gifts to his people. I am not worthy of God using me in this way, but he does anyway. I need this comfort, and God gives it!
This connects with the comfort of baptism itself, of course. I just thought I’d close this post by quoting one of my favorite “new” baptism hymns (it’s new to me but was written long ago) that I think expresses the comfort of baptism so well. Enjoy!
God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many?
I have one worth more than any that brought me salvation free,
Lasting to eternity!
Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my baptism did release me in a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?
Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled, and, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!
Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.
There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!
Text: Erdmann Neumester (1671-1756), Tr. Robert E. Voelker (b. 1957)
Tune: BACHOFEN – Johann Caspar Bachofen (1695-1755, alt.)
Christian Worship Supplement 737 / Lutheran Service Book 594