This article is reposted from Presbyterians Today, a publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA). You can read it and see photos in the online version of Presbyterians Today magazine. The article is written by Linda Valentine, who is the executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
‘Little one, for you Jesus Christ came into the world’
An old baptismal liturgy may hold the key for understanding what it means to be Presbyterian.
by Linda Valentine
When my colleagues Rob and Christine Coy Fohr’s daughter, Madeline, was baptized last December at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, the children of our church sang the hymn “God Claims You” (2249 in Sing the Faith). As they sang, “Madeline, Madeline, God loves you,” the sanctuary filled with love and remembrance of baptisms precious to us. They then inserted Rob’s and Christine’s names and sang to them. This hymn has become a new, deeply moving tradition for our church family, as the children join in welcoming their new friend while members of the congregation vow to nurture the child and support their parents in faith.
Whether we are baptized as infants, children, or adults, it is in that profoundly gracious act that our journey of discerning and living out our Christian calling begins. For us Presbyterians, baptism is “a sign and act of God’s self-giving, by which God’s grace is made available to us” (Book of Common Worship). And our grateful response—at all ages and stages of life—is to become more and more like Christ in living out our faith.