And Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:16 NIV)
Christmas Day on our reservation, here in northeast Nebraska, is a time for family. Sadly, this usually does not translate in the gathering together of the church family. Few take the time or make the effort to celebrate and thank God for the greatest Christmas gift ever in this way.
The invitations went out via many modes including posters, Facebook posts, personal home visits, as well as handouts at a community-wide gathering as the children got to have their picture taken with Santa Claus. These children were given individual Christmas gifts which they selected. They, as well as their families, were treated to pizza and cookies.
It was to this gathering that I invited the family of Braxton, one of our preschool graduates. Braxton had been welcomed into God's family through the water of Holy Baptism on Easter of 2017. His mother had since given birth to a baby girl and asked if she could be baptized on Christmas Day. I responded 'of course!' and Amrie, along with her father and mother and five siblings came together on this special day.
For the first time in our church, Jesus' celebrated day of birth became a day of rebirth for Amrie through the water of Holy Baptism. Amrie's sins were washed away and God's Spirit came upon her. Jesus continues to welcome children and bless them through the placing of His name upon them.
Recently, I led a Bible study at the Winnebago Drug Dependency unit. Two of the residents asked to be baptized. Following individual instruction of the Apostles' Creed and Holy Baptism, they were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus continues to bless children of all ages through the Water and the Spirit.
This Christmas, as we celebrate Jesus' birth, let us remember that without His birth we could never have been reborn into His family.
Dear Creator God, thank you for the blessings of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and being welcomed into your family and assured of life, now and always, through this gracious gift received through faith in Jesus, our Savior. Amen.