BY AMY WALTON |
When I was raising my sons, I gave them two birthday parties every year.
One party celebrated their turning another year old. I hosted themed parties, sleepovers, and other festivities that were held in such venues as karate studios and arcades. There were lots of little boys at those gatherings, and I remember the occasions with much joy.
The other party was quite different but even more joyful for me. This one only involved the three of us and was very simple in comparison to the age-related party. It usually featured a white cake with white frosting and the lighting of a candle each son had had since infancy. I always gave a reflection regarding the reason for the celebration. A new Bible, Christian book, or special gift was presented to the respective child.
It was a baptismal birthday. I wanted my boys to remember their baptisms every year.
My own such birthday is May 8th. Less than two months after I entered the world, the Reverend F. Herbert Weber sprinkled water on my little head, and I became a part of the fellowship of the Moravian Church and the Christian faith. It’s my only baptism because in accordance with scripture and our church, I believe there is only one baptism.
Yes, one. It’s something Paul mentions in his letter to the church at Ephesus, reminding them—and us—that we are called to one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).
I’ve always been intrigued by friends who have been “baptized” a few times during the course of their lives. I once knew a man who was sprinkled with water as a baby and dunked in a baptismal pool as a teen. Decades later, he took the plunge again in the Atlantic Ocean with the third pastor in his life declaring him cleansed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Many folks, including some clergy, see no issues with multiple baptisms during one’s lifetime. They cite a few instances supporting their views, including being baptized into a completely different denomination from one’s original baptism or having a regenerative baptism, a symbolic renewal.
Is this necessary? Is it right?
Most Protestant and Catholic communities believe in one baptism. They welcome previously baptized adults into their fellowships by a reaffirmation of faith, as the Moravians do, or by confirmation in their faith, as Roman Catholics do. Some of these churches also include for their congregations the renewal of vows during infant and adult baptisms. The entire fellowship gives voice to and reaffirms their own baptisms as they celebrate those who are receiving the sacrament for the first time. It’s a beautiful thing.
I live on a quaint little canal in Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay is five minutes from my house. When I sit by my canal or walk along the Bay, I sometimes think about baptism.
And here’s what goes through my mind: We have many opportunities to renew our baptisms on a daily basis through seemingly ordinary acts. A yearly celebration is a meaningful tradition, but it’s once a year. Why not look at the extraordinary-ordinary moments of our days as times of baptismal renewal, opportunities to celebrate daily our cleansing of sin, and new life in Christ?
We might begin by washing our faces or taking a shower, thanking God for another day of life, and committing to living out our baptism on this day. As we move into our hours, washing our hands as needed, we allow ourselves to be fully engaged with the pounding water as it runs over our fingers and palms, thanking Jesus for his great sacrifice and asking him to guide us in our service to others. We can also be mindful with each sip of water we take throughout the day.
As a certified Christian life coach for women, I sometimes recommend an initiation bath for clients who want to start new chapters in their lives or who seek to recommit their lives to the Lord. I encourage them to relax in their tubs with a lit candle nearby, allowing the warm water to envelop them as they pray and rededicate themselves to their maker. The feedback I receive often includes the words powerful and transformative.
Decorative tabletop fountains can serve as lovely reminders, too. Remembering our baptism while listening to the flowing water is a wonderful daily renewal.
As Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, we who are baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.
Think about that. Clothed ourselves with Christ. Daily.
Perhaps when we shower, wash our hands, and swim, we can picture ourselves clothed with Jesus. Maybe we imagine our fragile beings wrapped in the foot of his robe, taking shelter in him, our refuge. Our towel can substitute for his robe. We might even see him with his arm around us.
Baptized in Christ. Clothed in Christ. That’s who we are. Let’s celebrate every single day this beautiful and mysterious truth. Go ahead and have that annual birthday party but grasp those precious opportunities each day to remember with gratitude this wonderful gift of baptism.
There’s an old African-American spiritual with the following chorus:
Wade in the water, wade in the water, children now.
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.
May we all wade in the water every day.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or