Call me Luther, a boar in the vineyard of vacuous American traditions … My wife and I believe our high-Church Calvinism should affect every part of our lives, and so it was inevitable that we do something different for the birthdays of our three boys. After all, we’ll have three opportunities each year to do something informed by theology, rather than what the magisterium of American materialism has handed down to us. Here’s my exhortation for the service I’m leading Sunday at Providence Church in Greenville, NC.
This week, we celebrated Athanasius’s 3rd birthday. But he didn’t get any presents. Or cake, or ice cream. Not that we are health nut freaks, or that we are opposed to presents. If anyone deserves presents for his birth, it would be my wife! The birth of a child is indeed a miracle, and a central metaphor for our salvation (Jn. 3:5-6; 1 Pt. 1:23). We should celebrate birthdays, especially when so many in our culture of death never make it out of the womb.
So, Athanasius got to pick out a special birthday dinner and help prepare it. But … this Sabbath is a special day, too: this is his Baptism Day! Today, he gets cake and presents! Today, we celebrate his entrance into the Church. Wednesday, we celebrated his entrance into the world; today we will celebrate his entrance into the Kingdom. On his birthday, he came into our family, but in his baptism, he entered the Family of God. He became, officially, a living stone in the New Temple. This, indeed, is a cause for celebration.
Now, I don’t bring up what our family is doing to make the rest of you feel like you must do it our way. In God’s providence, we were able to baptize all three of our boys the within a week of their birth, and so the timing works out perfectly. But, however you do it, we should constantly remind our children of their baptism. We should constantly remind ourselves of our baptism. Baptism is our badge of membership in the Church; baptism into Christ is our identity. We are all part of Christ’s family. “Christ” is our last name; we are all Christians. Eph. 4:4-6 reads, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” As we celebrate birthdays, let us also celebrate our new birth, our adoption into the Family of God.