In August we will begin a series highlighting specific aspects of our Lutheran denomination. We will talk about some unique ways the LCMS has used traditions to teach us and keep us in the practice of forgiveness and grace. As we move toward that series, it is fitting that we find a text like this one to help us prepare.
Infant baptism is always a challenge for people. It might be because we are a country of choices. We don’t like choices taken away from us. This is evident by the many who proclaim to be pro-choice. I have heard it said that those who baptize their children as babies are basically dragging them into worship and forcing them into a decision they don’t want. This is the challenge we face as we tackle this issue.
In our reading for today (Colossians 2) we see a direct connection of baptism to circumcision. Circumcision is the Old Testament connection to the covenant. When God made His covenant with Abram, He told him the people of Israel must circumcise all males, and that this would be a sign of the promise God made with them. At that point, Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, for he would be the father of many generations. This was a big moment for Abraham. God had given him a great promise to bless his offspring! If you remember in the OT, passing on your legacy was a big deal, so this generational promise was hugely important. There are multiple times where we see the passing of a legacy in Scripture. I think when Jacob is wresting with God, he is fighting for the same thing, a passing on of generations.
Now back to the point. God called the male children of Israel to be circumcised after 8 days. This was the sign of the covenant given to the family for generations. But after Jesus came, there was a new covenant, which began with two of the sacraments He instituted. In the Lutheran church, for something to be called a sacrament, it has to have been instituted by Jesus, be a means of grace (provide forgiveness), and have a physical element (something we can touch and see). Baptism has all these parts, which is why we consider it a sacrament. Baptism, therefore, in its connection here with circumcision, is just as important as a last name. It is a part of the legacy passed down, and in our case, an important legacy of eternal life.
Why would we not want to give this to our kids? Why would we hold back such an awesome gift until they choose it? Infant baptism brings them one of the best gifts we could ever give our kids- forgiveness and a relationship with Jesus. Paul is making that connection for us, and helping us see why baptism is important. With the original covenant calling for circumcision 8 days after the birth, it points to the fact we should give this to the kids as soon as we can. I know people disagree with me. But if I make this connection, how in the world could I not give my kids the greatest gift I have for them as soon as possible.