It was dusk on a Sunday. There was a whopping cough epidemic ravishing the small rural town where we lived. Dad often walked the streets of town before our Sunday evening services handing out tracts and inviting people to church. On this particular day, I went with him.
Our town was divided into three parts by two small streams. We lived in the center section just north of the southern stream. We had walked the block to the city square, crossed the square, and had gone the block north to the foot bridge that crossed into the north side of town. A mom holding her bundled baby to her breast came running toward us. She was crying and began hysterically to beg my dad to do something for her baby. Typical to the effects of whopping cough, the baby had stopped breathing.
From there the memories are a bit foggy. I don’t know if Dad told me to scoot on home or if I ran home afraid on my own. I don’t remember what I saw or what I know from Dad’s account later that night. I do know Dad gave the baby mouth to mouth and started it breathing again. He also asked the mom if the baby had been baptized. When she said, “No,” he took the baby to the water in the stream below the bridge and declared the child God’s through baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (For a discussion of a Biblical understanding of infant baptism, see my articles “A brief and common language explanation of what I believe” and “A Case for Evangelical Lutheranism” linked elsewhere on this page.)
Pastor Paul explored the coming of faith in his letter to the Christians at Galatia. Before faith, he said, we were imprisoned by the law. With the coming of Christ, with the coming of faith, however, we have been set free to become the children of God. And that faith has become active for us all, he said, in baptism. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.