Can you imagine starting conversations this way? Some might suppose to do so would be “imposing” on the other person’s privacy.
Baptism is God’s wonderful means of grace where the water is used together with God’s Word. In the Large Catechism there is a beautiful summary of what God does for us:
“In baptism, therefore, every Christian has enough to study and practice all his or her life. Christians always have enough to do to believe firmly what baptism promises and brings—victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with his gifts.”
Baptism is God’s amazing gift of grace to us, but we so rarely speak of it.
When you read the 2016 census data about Queensland, you realize just how many people around you have been washed with water used together with God’s word in baptism, and are made daughters and sons of their Eternal Father.
Over 56% of Queenslanders identify themselves as Christians and well over three quarters of that number belong to Churches that baptise infants. Since most of the other Christian Churches baptise people, then in any group you are in, you can presume that a possible 50% of the people in the room are baptised.
According to the 2016 Census data, if you are amongst the “over 65s” then the number is even higher: 7 out of 10.
This data is also true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
But we so rarely speak of baptism with each other.
In 2004, Australian Christian Churches agreed to recognize baptisms administered in each other’s denominations (this included the use of a Common Certificate of Baptism). This was an extraordinary turning point in the history of Christian witness and service in our country. Those Churches signing were:
Catholic Church in Australia
Anglican Church of Australia
Antiochean Orthodox Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
Congregational Federation of Australia
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
Lutheran Church of Australia
Romanian Orthodox Church
Uniting Church in Australia
Presbyterian Church of Australia
Mar Thoma Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
As we pass on our Christian tradition to those who come after us, a significant question would be: “Why don’t we speak of our common baptism with those around us?” We might also ask how we grow in our understanding of good ways to talk about God’s promise in baptismal grace at work in those around us.
Sometimes it also begins with growing in our own daily reflection of our own baptism into Christ.
Each morning, my wife Heidi and I take up the advice from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, where Luther recommends that each morning, you mark yourself with the sign of the cross and say “Under God’s care in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In recent years, Heidi and I have taken up marking each other on the forehead and saying those words as soon as we wake up. Sometimes it is a little hazardous making sure that we don’t gouge out each other’s eyes as we make the sign of the cross when we are only half awake. But at the heart of this daily ritual is the reminder that we are baptised into Christ and given life and salvation and the free forgiveness of sin.
“… for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus…” (Galatians 3)