Keep the Feast: I Belong to Jesus

From the very beginning the church has paired baptism with Easter, baptizing new Christians on Easter Day. But even if it has been years since your baptism, Easter is the perfect opportunity to explore what baptism means and why it is cause for celebration. Worship scholar Robert Webber wrote in his book Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year,

“The biblical metaphor for Easter spirituality is found in baptism. The baptized life is a life that is lived in the pattern of death and resurrection. This is a daily, existential, moment-by-moment experience as we choose in this or that situation to die to the sins for which Christ died and choose the life of the Spirit for which Christ was raised to a new life.”

Your baptism is your identification with Jesus—in death and in life—and Easter calls us to celebrate it. We recently has a small party for my son William’s 4th baptism birthday and it can be truly challenging to explain a sacrament like baptism to a child. But we also serve cake so I guess it helps make the moment special. When we talk about baptism I tell William that his baptism means that he belongs to Jesus and no one can ever take that from him.

This is a comforting thought for me too as I think about my own daily struggles. Some days I think of myself as more or less belonging to myself alone. Win or lose—it’s all my own doing. Or on the hardest days, when things feel completely out of control, I begin to think of myself as a victim under attack from the enemy.

But my baptism tells me that neither of those things are true. I belong to Jesus. In the first part of our baptismal vows we renounce Satan, acknowledging the Easter-truth that Satan is defeated and Jesus is victorious. Then we continue in our vows to profess that we turn to Christ and place all of our hope for salvation in him. We celebrate him for all that he is and all that he has done and gladly admit that we have no power to save ourselves.

I invite you in this season to celebrate your baptism. If you have photos or mementos from the day, set aside time to look at them and trace how God’s grace has been at work in your life. If you know the day you were baptized, mark in on the calendar and celebrate the day this year. You may want to adopt a habit like making the sign of the cross on your body as a physical reminder that you belong to Jesus.

You should also revisit your baptismal vows to recall the relationship you have with Jesus. The baptismal vows from the Anglican Prayer Book can be read here. And even if you were baptized in another Christian denomination or church, we believe that your baptism is still good! If you have doubts about your baptism I encourage you to look back at your life to trace God’s grace leading you to that sacramental moment and his work in your life ever since. I believe you will see how you are not your own but that Jesus has a strong claim on your life.

And whenever you feel less than holy, remember that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist Satan, sin, and death in your life. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:9-11) 

Keep celebrating Easter and remember the truth of your baptism. You belong to Jesus!

If you have questions about baptism in the Anglican Church I invite you to read the ACNA Catechism starting in the section on Sacraments beginning on page 30. It is available online here. Jed or another member of our clergy would be happy to answer questions and tell you more about future opportunities for baptism for you or your children who have not yet been baptized.