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Baptism of the Lord Sunday — Christian ed at home

This Sunday is designated as Baptism of the Lord Sunday in the liturgical calendar.  In our congregation, we would often celebrate by inviting those attending worship to walk to the front of the sanctuary so they could touch water in the font and remember their baptisms.  It was lovely watching people of all ages smile as they dipped their hands in the water.

I’m particularly fond of the sacrament of baptism, so this particular Sunday is always one I look forward to. However, the thought of multiple people gathered in a small space putting their hands in the same bowl of water this year sends me running for the hand sanitizer!  While this ritual may not be safe right now, the spirit of this day can be brought into our homes and celebrated with our children.

Begin the time with your children by reflecting on their baptisms as well as your own.  If your children were baptized at an age when they would remember the experience, ask them to share memories of that day.  If they were too young to remember, share your recollections of their baptisms.  Also, tell them what you know about your own baptism.  Note that this is a day where we publicly celebrate and recognize what God is doing and will continue to do in a person’s life.  In our faith tradition, individuals are baptized during a worship service in the presence of others so that they may commit to support the person being baptized throughout their faith journey.  Those being baptized also publicly commit to following Christ.  If they are too young to make this commitment themselves, their parents do so for them.

Prepare to read aloud Mark 1:4-11.  This text as written is fairly easy for children to understand, so it is not necessary to use a children’s Bible.  However, the illustrations that accompany the Scripture may add another layer of meaning for children.  Before you begin reading, tell your children that you will be sharing the story of Jesus’ baptism.  Because we are Jesus’ followers, we do what he did — including being baptized.  As you read the passage aloud, encourage your children to notice how God (the Spirit) reacts to the event.

After reading the text, focus in on God’s response to Jesus’ baptism (verses 10-11).  Ask your children to reflect on what the Spirit says.  What does it mean to be God’s beloved?  Why is the Spirit “well pleased” with Jesus?  Then shift the discussion from Jesus to your child.  If we are followers of Jesus, are we also God’s beloved?  Is God also “well pleased” with us?  Share that God does not have love only for God’s Son, Jesus.  God loves and is pleased with each of us.

Prepare for your children to explore the idea of being God’s beloved by gathering supplies for an art project.  You’ll need white paper and markers, paintbrushes and water.  Place a piece of white paper in front of each child.  Ask her to use markers to draw a picture of herself on the paper.  Explain that the drawing should not only reflect what she looks like but also who she is.  It should show her personality and her interests.

When your child is done drawing, note that it represents a person God loves and is pleased with.  Baptism with water is a way for us to acknowledge this.  Say that we are going to remember this by adding water to this drawing.  Give each child a paintbrush.  Ask him to dip it into water and then “paint” over the drawing.  The water will cause the marker to run a bit, creating a watercolor effect.

Finish the time with your children by saying a prayer over the drawing.  Thank God for loving and being pleased with the child depicted as well as the gift of the child’s baptism.  Acknowledge those who agreed to nurture and support the child throughout his faith journey during the sacrament of baptism.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.