Planned Giving & Baptism

This past weekend, my uncle was in El Paso. Uncle Harry is a Christian Giving Counselor for the Arizona-California District of the WELS. His job is to help individuals and congregations make plans for their giving. So he met with our church council to introduce the concept of a congregational endowment fund and he presented a seminar on Christian estate planning. So really, he was in town on business. But we managed to have a nice visit while he was here. Sara and I went out to eat with him on Friday night and I had lunch with him before he left on Tuesday.

Uncle Harry is also my baptism sponsor, my godfather. Well, it just so happened that the Sunday he came to visit was the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany, when we observe the Baptism of our Lord. And this quarter I am using the adult level materials in our Sunday School curriculum, Growing in Christ, for our Sunday morning Bible Class. The lesson was The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus. The last question in the lesson was this: What does it mean to “remember” our baptism? How do sponsors help us with that, and how do we as sponsors help those who are baptized to remember their baptisms?

So I had the opportunity to share with the class what my sponsor did for me that has helped me remember my baptism. I asked how many people remembered when they were baptized. Not many. That's pretty typical. Most of the time when people fill out membership application or information forms, the spot for their baptism date will have a year and maybe a month. But most people seemed to think that a baptismal certificate would be the best way to find out. 

I mentioned that I don't know where my baptism certificate is. I've been told that it might be in a safety deposit box in Nebraska. So I don't have a certificate, but I do have something that is probably just as good. I have a letter that my uncle wrote to me on October 22, 1978—the date I was baptized. The letter introduced me to the family. He mentioned the "vicious rumor" that I didn't have red hair like so many of my siblings and cousins, but he suggested that lots of carrots and beats would take care of that.

Obviously, the letter didn't mean much to me way back then, but even now as I remember my own baptism, I have this concrete reminder. Uncle Harry wrote, 

Perhaps my first welcome to you should be to an even bigger family, the adopted sons and daughters of Jesus, our Savior. You're too young to know it yet, but that's the best family of all to be a member of. When your pastor put that water on you, he made a very special person out of you. When you get old enough to understand it, your mom and dad will explain it all to you. It also made a rather special person out of me and your Aunt Johanna. We're you're sponsors and we're very proud to be a part of your life. We'll keep you in our minds and in our prayers.

I have lately become very fond of the hymn, "God's Own Child I Gladly Say It." We have always tried to help our children remember their baptism and to talk about what it means, especially as they grow older. This hymn has been so helpful encouraging to me, and gives me even more reason to teach that. Our kids know at least the first stanza of this hymn, and it brings me great joy to hear them singing it, especially to hear little Lydia singing those precious words, "I am baptized into Christ!"

God’s own child, I gladly say it: 
I am baptized into Christ! 
He, because I could not pay it, 
Gave my full redemption price. 
Do I need earth’s treasures many? 
I have one worth more than any 
That brought me salvation free, 
Lasting to eternity!

Sin, disturb my soul no longer: 
I am baptized into Christ! 
I have comfort even stronger: 
Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. 
Should a guilty conscience seize me 
Since my baptism did release me 
In a dear forgiving flood, 
Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?

Satan, hear this proclamation: 
I am baptized into Christ! 
Drop your ugly accusation; 
I am not so soon enticed. 
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, 
All your might has come unraveled, 
And, against your tyranny, 
God, my Lord, unites with me!

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ! 
When I die, I leave all sadness 
To inherit paradise! 
Though I lie in dust and ashes 
Faith’s assurance brightly flashes: 
Baptism has the strength divine 
To make life immortal mine. 

There is nothing worth comparing 
To this lifelong comfort sure! 
Open-eyed my grave is staring: 
Even there I’ll sleep secure. 
Though my flesh awaits its raising, 
Still my soul continues praising: 
I am baptized into Christ; 
I’m a child of paradise!

1 thought on “Planned Giving & Baptism”

  1. This is beautiful Hans. The kids and I were just talking about baptism during Bible stories last night. My Hans said it’s great to get faith before we even know how. Thanks for sharing.–Jenny

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