Today is the tenth anniversary of my baptism (September 1, 2013). Christians of the past were commonly reminded to “remember your baptism.” Baptism was viewed not just as a moment, but as the beginning of life in God’s covenant family, and as a touchstone for the whole Christian life. In our home, we are trying to do better about remembering each person’s baptism anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate God’s covenant promises to our family. This evening, we’re having our first “Baptism Anniversary Party.”
Adam, our four-year-old son, is beyond excited. He got his LEGO mini-figures ready to attend the party and suggested playing “the catechism game” (a board game that I made for our family in which each person answers questions from an age-appropriate catechism to advance on the board). Adam also planned the menu, but ran upstairs to sweetly ask me, “Is that okay for your anniversary?” And of course, he can’t wait for mommy’s cake. His excitement has reminded me that in family discipleship, it’s important to intentionally remember and celebrate God’s work (major purposes of the Old Testament feast days). I want to be more intentional about building rhythms of remembrance and celebration into our family’s life.
In family discipleship, it is important to intentionally remember and celebrate God’s work.
In addition to feasting and playing this evening, we will be reading Romans 6:1–4, where Paul exhorts the Romans to remember their baptism and live accordingly:
6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Then, we will be reading our catechism questions on baptism and discussing its meaning as a family. From the Kids’ Catechism:
35. How does the Holy Spirit help you?
Answer: Through the Church
36. What is the Church?
Answer: The family of God
37. How do you join the Church?
Answer: Through baptism
From the latest draft of the New Methodist Catechism (the adult catechism which Holy Joys is working on):
53. What is baptism?
Baptism is the sacrament of entrance into Christ’s body the church, wherein we are washed in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of regeneration or the new birth, and a mark of difference between Christians and the unbaptized.
Then, we will renew our baptismal vows, which include the Apostles’ Creed—the baptismal creed. These vows are drawn from John Wesley’s Sunday Service for the Methodists of North America, an adaptation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is itself rooted in ancient Christian practice (e.g., a renunciation of evil at baptism goes back to the earliest centuries). The first Methodist denomination, the Methodist Episcopal Church, produced a catechism that expounded these vows and expected every baptized person to regularly revisit them. First, our family will renounce evil:
I renounce the devil and all his works,
the vain pomp and glory of the world,
with all covetous desires of the same,
and the sinful desires of the flesh,
so that I will not follow nor be led by them.
Then, we will confess our faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name we are baptized:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
was crucified, died, and was buried:
He descended to the dead:
On the third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father:
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Spirit:
the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.
Finally, we will vow to obey God by his grace:
Having been baptized in this faith,
I will obediently keep
God’s holy will and commandments,
and walk in the same all the days of my life,
God being my helper.
We will probably talk about how we are doing in each of these areas: (1) fighting against Satan, the world, and our flesh; (2) contending for the faith and bearing God’s Triune name with integrity; and (3) obediently keeping—not forgetting, omitting, or disobeying—God’s holy will and commandments. I know that I feel challenged and convicted just reading these vows.
Finally, we will sing the hymn “Our Precious Faith” with a new verse that I wrote for the occasion. This new verse (now verse 4 of 5) summarizes the baptismal covenant:
By water and the Spirit we are born,
To fight against the devil, world, and flesh,
Hold fast the faith of Father, Spirit, Son,
And do his will as long as we have breath.
How do you remember your baptism? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.