When I die, I’d like my obituary to include the date I was baptized.
I realize that piece of information is seldom included in an individual’s biography. Typically the only dates listed are one’s birth date, death date, and (if applicable) marriage date. For my future obituary, those dates – together with things such as family, education, career, and hobbies – will be helpful in knowing who I am.
But I’d like my baptism date included so that whoever reads my obituary will also know whose I am.
My baptism identifies me as a child of my heavenly Father, saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus and filled with his Holy Spirit. My baptism was a celebration of God’s faithfulness, a reminder that I am part of his family. The water symbolizes how Jesus washes me clean from the filth of my sin. The water also symbolizes the refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit who empowers me to live as one of God’s children.
That certainly does not mean that I’m perfect. My poor choices and dumb mistakes routinely hurt God, others, and myself. But my baptism reminds me that God, in his amazing grace, nevertheless claims me as his own which means that neither my sin nor even my death will have the last word in my life.
I once read something about Martin Luther, a famous figure at the time of the Reformation in church history. Whenever he felt discouraged or that the devil was pulling him in a bad direction, he would splash water on himself and declare, “But I am baptized!” The Holy Spirit used that reminder to propel him in the right direction again.
Every once in a while, I stand by the baptismal font in the front of the church sanctuary. Reflecting on how God is faithful to his promises prevents my baptism from becoming a dry piece of my history. The Holy Spirit uses that and lots of other things to help me continue “living wet” – as one who is a baptized part of God’s family and empowered to make a difference in his world.
I suspect that my loved ones will write an obituary for me some day that will include significant events and interesting anecdotes from my life. But I’d suggest that recalling my baptism and its meaning will be the most significant and interesting detail of them all.
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I’ve been invited to contribute occasionally to the faith column in The Rock Valley Bee and this is my first one, published this week. At first I thought I would introduce myself and talk about who I am, but then I decided it would be more interesting to focus on whose I am.