What happens when you baptize a six year old?
Today I had the privilege of conducting the baptism of a six year old child. In the Presbyterian Church, there is no defined age for a baptism and I have baptized people at various ages through the years, but this was my first six year old. I found it a deeply meaningful celebration for a number of reasons but mostly because the child got to have a say to and express his faith at the level of understanding. I adapted the baptismal questions as followed:
Minister: Candidate, I know that you have heard the name of Jesus, that you are learning about him, his words and his stories. Candidate, I want to ask you a very important question. Based on what you know right now about Jesus, are you willing to trust him and to serve him as best as you can?
Candidate: Yes, I am.
Minister: Candidate, as a sign of your trust in Jesus, are you willing to be baptized?
Minister: Mother and Father, in his own way, Candidate could probably teach us all a great deal about what it really means to have faith in Jesus. But he is still growing in his knowledge about Jesus and his gospel. He needs someone to help and protect his faith as he grows. Will you do that for him?
Parents: We will.
Minister: But that is more than we can ask of two people alone. Big brother, will you, as big brother, also do your part to help Candidate grow in faith?
Big Brother: I will.
Minister: And will you, Witness and Witness do what you can to assist this family in this very important task before them?
Witnesses: I will.
Minister: But even a loving family and committed friends are not enough. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a church to create a faithful Christian. Will you, the people of St. Andrew’s Hespeler, provide for Candidate and his family a community where they can all grow in faith and explore their relationship with God in Christ? Will you welcome and value them for who they are?
Congregation: We will.
Scott: Father and Mother, will you make sure that this congregation (or whatever congregations you may belong to in the future) has the opportunity to fulfill the promises that they have made here today?
Parents: We will.
Minister: Then, by all means, let us celebrate this sacrament of faith and commitment!
The most fun part of the baptism? I must say that I have never had a candidate so eager to say yes to my questions!