Welcome to the baptismal service of T. It is Christmas and during the season of Christmas, we celebrate a birth. We celebrate an infant. Christmas is a pro-child holiday because it’s about the coming of The Child into our world. It’s no surprise children love Christmas so much because Christmas is about a very special child.
One of the events connected to Jesus’ birth is the Slaughter of the Innocents in Matthew 2, when Herod has all the baby boys in Bethlehem destroyed. Herod’s action, of course, was Satanic. Satan is always trying trying to kill children. Herod, like Pharaoh long before him and the Supreme Court justices who gave us the Roe vs. Wade ruling long after him, was just another pawn in Satan’s hand. Like other servants of Satan, Herod despised children who interfered with his own plans and desires.
Just as God loves babies, just as he loves little covenant children, so Satan hates babies. Think of abortion – it’s a modern day expression of the Satanic hatred of babies. Herod would have approved of abortion. No doubt he would have supported Planned Parenthood. There are other ways the Satanic hatred of babies is manifested. Women who despise and/or reject motherhood, fathers who abandon children they helped create rather than providing for them, a society that allows its birth rate to sink below replacement levels, a culture that does not care for orphans, and so on – all of these are manifestation of Satan’s anti-natalism. A culture that does not love children is a Satanic culture. A culture that does not care for children is a culture of death.
Why does Satan hate babies so much? Satan wants to destroy babies because a baby came to destroy him. Jesus was born as the seed of the woman who came to crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). That baby in the manger was a warrior, who came to do battle with the enemy. While Jesus’ birth and babyhood were unique, all covenant children are weapons in our warfare against Satan. T is a weapon. Today, T becomes part of the heavy artillery we are bringing onto the front lines of the battle. Today, T gets enlisted in God’s army. Today, T goes to war.
Satan hates T. But God loves T. And God promises to use T in his army to overthrow Satan‘s kingdom. Psalms 127 says covenant children are arrows in the hand of a warrior. In Psalm 8 God says he uses the babblings of babies and infants to silence the foe and avenger. Today, T puts on his military uniform as he is clothed with Christ in baptism. Today T becomes a soldier in Christ’s army. Today, T begins to manfully fight under the banner of the cross against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Today, I and M bring MJ for baptism. Why are we baptizing a small, helpless infant who has to be carried to the font? What could baptism possibly do for such a young and weak child?
Trek back to Genesis with me. God promised Abraham and Sara a son. The problem is that Abraham was old and Sara was barren. God made the promise of a son to this couple….and then he waited…. and waited ….and waited …..until he finally determined the time was right to fulfill his promise and the miracle child, Isaac, was born. God made it clear he was really Isaac‘s Father through his Spirit.
God had Abraham circumcise Isaac on the eighth day because circumcision was the sign of the covenant. The fact that Isaac was circumcised as an eight day old infant means that being a part of God‘s people was a matter of grace, not merit. Before Isaac could choose God, God chose him. Before Isaac could express love for God, God loved him and claimed him. Before Isaac was of age, before he could engage in abstract reasoning, before he could read a book or sign a contract, God graciously brought him into the covenant. Isaac did not have to grow up big and strong so he could become an Israelite; God made him an Israelite on his eighth day.
Why did the covenant with Abraham include children? Why do God’s covenants always include children? God intended for Israel to be the core of a new humanity, and if Israel was going to be a new humanity, it had to include all sorts of conditions of people, including the old (like Abraham) and the young (like Isaac). Of course, now the church is God’s new humanity, so it must include infants as well. The church is not a club or voluntary organization or philosophical society. It’s not just for the smart, the strong, the wealthy, the elite, the mature. The church is God’s new humanity, and like the old humanity, it includes young children. The church is the family of God, and like every other family, it includes the youngest among us. The church is God‘s holy nation, and like all nations, this one includes infants – infants like MJ, who will become a citizen of the Israel of God here today, who will become a member of God’s family, God‘s nation, God‘s new humanity. Like Isaac, she is a child of the promise, a child of the covenant, a child of the Heavenly Father.
I and M, you will now take these vows on her behalf…..