The second Sunday in January is very important in the life of the church and of the believer. It is on this Sunday that we gather to recall and reaffirm our commitment to Jesus Christ in a “Remembrance of Baptism” Covenant Service.
January is a month generally characterized by the making of new resolutions for the new and hopefully improved year. As disciples of Jesus, we should also examine our spiritual lives and the covenant we made when we were baptized into the life of Christ.
What do we celebrate when we “remember” our Baptism? Baptism is entry into the Church. The use of the biblical term covenant links baptism and its related services to the work of God on behalf of God’s people. A covenant is a two-sided agreement involving promises and responsibilities of both parties.
In the Hebrew Bible, the story is told of God’s covenant relationship with the Hebrew people. The sign sealing that covenant is circumcision. In the New Testament, meaning New Covenant, the story is about Jesus Christ and the covenant that his life, death, and resurrection establish between God and the Christian Church. In baptism, we are initiated into the community of
God’s covenant people – the body of Christ. Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, the divine promise applied to the life of each of us. It is “through water and the Spirit” that we enter into new spiritual life in relationship to God in Christ.
In The Articles of Religion, John Wesley asserted that, “Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth.
The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church.” Baptism of an infant powerfully portrays the utter dependence which all of us have on God. The sacrament is the sign of God’s promise of ongoing grace, offering continual forgiveness and transformation throughout our lives. We do not receive all of the benefits of baptism at once; this is particularly obvious when infants are baptized. At whatever age it is received, baptism demonstrates our inclusion in the covenant with God and our access to
the divine grace that claims, sustains, and saves us. The goal is not to remember the day the pastor held you in her arms and put water on your head, but to remember that you are baptized and to reaffirm your baptismal vows.
Remembering that we are baptized, however, should not be limited to special worship services. We can find moments every day that remind us of our baptism and what it means in our daily living.
Many of us begin our day in the shower, and the waters that cleanse us can serve as a reminder of who we are in Christ Jesus. What a great way to greet the day!