Baptism matters to Christians because it mattered to Jesus and his early followers. Among the few specific instructions Jesus left his followers is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Along with the command to baptize Jesus also gave a life-changing promise: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
When we are doused with God’s welcome water in baptism, God immediately begins keeping that promise, and we are never the same. Forevermore the God we meet in Jesus will share every adventure, every disaster, and every joy that comes our way. Never will we be abandoned or forsaken.
Christians all over the world practice baptism as a sign of the new life that God gives us in Jesus and as a symbol of unity between all who bear the name Christian. Regardless of age, language, culture, gender, sexual orientation,ethnicity, or religious background, the church welcomes all people to be washed in God’s water of life.
Baptism for Lutherans, is a sacrament. Sacraments have sometimes been described as God’s “visible words,” physical and tangible expressions of the mysterious presence of God’s unconditional love in our common, ordinary lives. Just as the Christian faith believes that Jesus is God-made-flesh, we also understand sacraments to be God’s Word-made-touchable.
Lutheran Christians have described sacraments as being the unity of God’s “word, sign, and promise.” That is why two sacraments – Holy Baptism and Holy Communion – have long been recognized both as those things that:
- relate to a biblical command (“go baptize them in the name” & “and do this in remembrance of me”)
- connect to God’s word of promise (I am with you always & for the forgiveness of sins)
- use earthly elements (bread, water, and wine)