Greetings in Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. If you remember from last month, my name is Vicar Christopher Maronde, and I am serving three Lutheran Churches in upstate New York, including Redeemer Evangelical in Canastota. In my previous article, I introduced a recent trip I took to South Africa. During that trip, I had the opportunity to go to church in a variety of settings. In a later article, I hope to tell you about worship in Africa. But today, I wish to speak to you about something that happened at the English speaking church that meets on the Seminary campus. On the second Sunday of our trip, our very last day in South Africa, we witnessed a baptism.
What we observed didn’t ‘seem’ very special. The German missionary gathered the family around a bowl of water and then poured water on the head of a one or two year old boy while speaking these words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Then the child was given back to his parents and the service continued. Not too impressive, if you judge on appearances. But there was more than meets the eye. God Himself was working within that water to give a little baby life, to claim him as His very own child. That child was born in sin (as we all are), he was born facing the penalty of eternal death (which we all deserve), but in Baptism God gave to him life, He forgave that little child of all his sins. It wasn’t that the water was special or ‘magic,’ much the opposite, in fact. That water was quite ordinary, but it was being used for an extraordinary purpose. God joined His name to that water, He was working through that baptism to give that child eternal life. God wants to give these gifts to each and every one of you.
The amazing thing about Baptism is that God would work through simple water to give His gifts. Whether in South Africa or in Central New York, God gives the same gifts to hurting people. Baptism is not something you do for God, it is something that He wants to do for you. He offers this gift to you, He is yearning for you to be His child. In South Africa, we saw a little boy become a child of God, a miracle that happens in so many churches throughout the world every Sunday.
To learn more about God’s gifts in Baptism, we invite you to come to Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church every Sunday at 4 pm (we meet at Trinity Episcopal Church in Canastota). We also have several bible studies: before church at 3 pm, at Whitman Road above Clockville on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 2:00 pm, at North Bay on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. Call 315-245-0415 for specific directions and further information. Come visit us!