“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1–4, NIV)
Ashley and Aaron (Gagner), today you are to be congratulated. For you are giving your child one of the best gifts, if not THE BEST GIFT you can ever give him; His baptism into Christ.
Now there are a lot of gifts you will be giving your child as the years go by. You have already given him, blankets and teddy bears. In years to come there will be model cars and telescopes, maybe a dog or cat, hamster or turtle. And in the years after that, hockey skates and a football jersey. Maybe even a car, and a college education.
There's nothing wrong with these gifts, and all of them can be used for good. But unfortunately, they are also, all limited.
Consider just a few of the gifts you will be giving to Ames in the years to come, and how limited they are, in providing for his ultimate happiness and well being. Consider the gift of “money” for example.
Many parents feel that if they can just give their child money, they will be insuring their child's happiness for a lifetime.
I remember getting money from my parents when I was a kid. I liked getting nickels and dimes to go to the grocery store to buy candy bars with. In fact I liked it so much, I once went to the neighbor's to ask for money!
Money is important for kids to get and use, and learn about. But it is also limited. The comedienne Steve Martin once talked about money and described its limitations this way. He said..
I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too. --Steve Martin
A $300 pair of socks? An electric dog polisher? A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater? If you have the money, I suppose you could buy such things, but do they really bring happiness? Can you really buy a meaningful life? I don't think so. Money is good, but it is only so good. It only gives us so much of what we truly need to feel happy and fulfilled.
Money is a good gift to give to our kids, but it has its limitations. It only goes so far in making them happy, healthy, and whole.
Another gift parents like to give to their kids is the gift of athletic achievement. Excellence in skating, basket ball, football, soccer, is often at the top of the list of gifts parents wish to bestow on their children. And here again, the gift is good, but it is also limited.
It is important for parents to teach kids to take care of their bodies and exercise regularly. Especially in a time when kids tend to spend too much time in front of a screen or on a cell phone.
And competition and pursuit of excellence, this too is good. It teaches kids discipline, and the value of hard work, and working with others. But what happens when kids grow up and this is all they have? What happens when the star quarterback moves away to college only to discover that he is “just one small fish, in a very large pond”?
And even when kids succeed, they often find the success very short lived and fleeting.
One of my best buddies in high school took the West Fargo Packers basketball team all the way to the state championships, only to discover that his knees were shot by the time he got to college. He said one day, “All I did in high school was play basketball. That was all I ever did.” Shouldn't there be more to life than just a basketball and banged up knees?
Lastly, we have education.
Most parents begin saving for their kids education that minute they are born. And what a good gift the gift of education can be!
Education is an undeniable good. But again, it suffers from limitations. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the TV sit com, “The Big Bang Theory”. Dr. Sheldon Cooper and his friends all have high IQs and impressive degrees. But unfortunately, they also suffer from what managers in the work place call, a “low emotional IQ”. In other words, they never learned how to work with other people. How do you teach people to be kind, thoughtful, and caring? It takes more than a text books doesn't it?
In college, when young people pursue a degree in business, they often have to take a class that is called “business ethics”. Instructors like to refer to this as “a course for business majors who never went to Sunday school”. In other words, they are trying to teach future business leaders to be honest and compassionate, considerate of their employees and the environment.
There are so many good gifts we can give to our children, but they all come with their limitations. They only go so far in helping our kids to be healthy, happy, and whole.
But Aaron and Ashley, you have chosen a gift that can bless little Ames not just for a lifetime but for all eternity! And the gifts that come with his baptism are truly priceless.
Aaron and Ashley, through his baptism, you have given little Ames a role model in Jesus Christ, who can inspire him as nobody else can. And in baptism you have given him a support group in the church, that will love him in good times and bad. And in baptism you have given him the gift of the holy spirit to help and guide him in all circumstances.
Baptism truly is the gift that keeps on giving throughout all eternity!
And all you have to do is respond to this grace by bringing little Ames to God's house and helping him to grow in the grace of his baptism into Christ. Aaron and Ashley, may God bless you and little Ames on this day of his baptism into Christ. Amen.