Sunday, December 4, 2011

How do you prepare for Baptism, really?

How do you prepare for a baptism? If the fanfare is a measure of preparation for how big and important an event is, then the baptism I witnessed this morning is not even a sideshow. This morning, an infant baptism took place during the worship service. Thank goodness that the baptism was done within the worship service. It was also good to have the Holy Communion and Baptism, the only two sacraments in UMC, done in one worship service. In that respect, nothing could be said further about the theological appropriateness of celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism.

But the preparation for the baptism of the child was lacking. I doubt the amount of effort the Pastor and the parents gave in preparation of this baptism. A three day notice and the manner it was done today are telling of the people's understanding of baptism. The amount of preparation one gives to an event equates to the importance of that event to the person. For example, the "big day" for almost all ladies is their wedding day. The preparation for such event takes several months if not years. Even before the girl meets his perfect "prince charming", she already has planned in her imaginative mind her dream wedding. The big event for ladies calls for a thorough check of the location, designing the color coded gowns, sending out the invitations with RSVPs, practicing the vows and other speeches and making sure that the minutest detail of the event is not left to chance. Because the big event happens is supposed to happen only once in a lifetime, it should be perfect. I hope we can say the same way with how we prepare with baptisms.

Baptisms only happen once in our life. To be sure, the amount of celebration and preparation is not a measure of the grace we receive from God. But the importance we give to an outward even of an inward grace is a mark of how well we understand and give meaning to the sacraments we celebrate. A diamond is nothing but a sparkling stone to someone who does not understand its value. As Christians and United Methodist, let us responsibly learn what is important in our faith and beliefs so we can prepare for it. Just like this Advent season, when we prepare for something that is very important to us. We know preparation helps us to be ready for a special event. Let us teach one another to prepare properly and have a Wesleyan understanding of baptism. For we were all baptized and in our baptism we received the same calling from God.

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