Is Holy Baptism Scandalous?

There is something scandalous about baptism. When parents come to have their children baptized, when I came to the waters of Holy Baptism to pour the baptismal water on my children’s little foreheads, there is something scandalous that happens there.

Parents are bringing these children to the water and saying that their children have a new and heavenly father through these waters in addition to their earthly parents and a new and larger family, one that is as large as the stars in the sky, in addition to the family that has brought them here today.

Not only that, but in these waters, generations of families have said that in the end they, the family that has brought them here, they are not the most important thing in this life. There is One who is greater, stronger, more able and yes even more loving than they are. There is One who knew the form of the little one in the womb and knows every hair on their head when they are old. This is the One who bled and died for them and is able to give to them eternal gifts that never fade no matter what happens in this life and last for all of eternity; gifts that we could never create, fashion or buy. Ultimately, we are saying, that this Heavenly Father and His Family that is adopting our children in the waters of Baptism is the most important thing even more important than us, their earthly families that love them so dearly.

Scandalous right? Probably, if we believe we are the most important things in this world. But if we did, we wouldn’t be here today and we wouldn’t have brought our loved ones to the waters of baptism over the years. I believe there are two better words that describe the scandal of Holy Baptism: wisdom and love.

Bringing our children to the waters of Holy Baptism is an act of wisdom. The family, especially mom and dad, are still, despite what you may hear, the most important influence on our children’s lives, no contest. That is both an encouraging thing, knowing that through love and guidance and care we can show our children the right way to go. But it is also a terrifying thing, because if we know ourselves at all we know we are not perfect. Our faults are numerous, we lose our cool, we don’t always have the words to say, we certainly don’t always do the right thing ourselves. It takes wisdom to recognize our own limitations, but not to despair over them, but to bring our children and us to the One through whom we both learn and grow and become more than we ever could on our own. Wisdom not only brings us our the children to the waters of Holy Baptism, but brings us as well, on bended knee, acknowledging our own limitations and seeking help from our Father in Heaven. Help to be the best parents we can be. Help to live a life that is worthy of our calling. Help for our little ones knowing that even though we will fail them and we will not be here forever to guide them that their Heavenly Father will never fail them and will always be there to guide them both in this life and into life eternal.

Bringing our children to the waters of Holy Baptism is an act of love. What is the most loving thing we can do for our children then bring them to the place where God’s love from eternity flows so freely and covers all of their sin? This is what love does in our Christian faith, it comes to where the promises of God are and brings everyone we love with us. In these waters of Holy Baptism, this is about what God is doing for these little and big ones, no matter how old they are. God is promising that because of His grace and love they are now His children, that they have the promise of eternal life with him and that He is with them always and that no matter how long they are given to live they have a home with Him. As they go through life, they can always look back at this day and say I am a baptized child of God that is my identity and a promise that will never leave me, even though the whole world might fall apart around me. What could be more loving than to bring our loved ones to the place where that promise is given and received?

Even though we bring our loved ones to these waters to receive these promises, promises we could never give ourselves, that doesn’t mean our work here is done. Of course not. Because God did bring these little ones into your life, to be loved and cared for by them, to raise them up in the Christian faith, to bring them to Confirmation, for you to be an example of the Christian life to them, in the good that you do and how you worship our God but also in the mistakes that you make and how you come to our Lord for forgiveness and help in every time of need.

Every family that brings their loved ones to the waters of Holy Baptism are never alone in this. Jesus said today, whoever does the will of God, (that is believe in Jesus,) is my brother and sister and mother. (Mathew 12:50) We have been given a wonderful an extended family of faith and baptism is a promise and response from God’s family to walk alongside you as you raise and guide your children, to help you share the love of Jesus with them and to help you learn more and more what that love means in your own life. To know, that in these waters, they are never alone.

Scandalous, probably; but the right thing for our children and for ourselves, absolutely.


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