Sunday, February 2nd, is the Baptismal birthday of our son, Matthias. I don’t usually write so personally on the Eurasia Blog, but it does have me thinking about why we missionaries in Eurasia do what we do. Last year, on February 2nd, we brought Matthias to the waters of Holy Baptism. He was less than two weeks old because his Daddy was traveling here to Germany and to Russia in just two more days to find a place for us to live and to make contacts with future colleagues. It was a Saturday because it was flu season, and our doctor had cautioned us against being around too many crowds. A few members of the permanent congregation were there, as much of our family as could make it, Matthias’ wonderful godparents, and my awesome OB who delivered Matthias. And also lots and lots of hand sanitizer. His Daddy Baptized him. Normally, the congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lincoln, NE sings “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” It’s a wonderful hymn, and we often use it when celebrating our Baptismal birthdays. Here is the first stanza:
God’s own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to Eternity (“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” LSB 594:1).
It’s so true! I can’t pay it. You can’t pay it. Matthias couldn’t pay it. Babies brought to the waters of Baptism can’t pay it. Adult converts can’t pay it. No one can pay the full redemption price. It requires absolute and total perfection. It requires the blood of an absolutely, totally perfect man. It requires God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. And so He paid it. He paid it for me. He paid it for Matthias. He paid it for you. He paid it for all people of all time.
And that is why we send missionaries to all corners of Eurasia to work in mercy, to proclaim the Gospel, to work in schools, to offer mercy through medical teams, to plant churches, to teach in seminaries, to write blog posts, to lead English-language congregations for expatriates. We, as a church body, send them because of what Jesus paid and because He paid it also for those to whom the Church sends her missionaries. We send missionaries so that babies, children, teens, and adults alike may be brought to the waters of Holy Baptism and there receive life, salvation, forgiveness of sins, assurance of faith, and all of God’s promises. So that they may be buried and raised with Christ. So that they, too, may sing “God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!”
On Sunday, we’ll light Matthias’ Baptismal candle. We’ll read his little book about Baptism called God Chose You, and I think we’ll sing “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” And while we do, we’ll think of and pray for all the Baptized. And we’ll think of and pray for all those throughout the Eurasia region who have never heard that Jesus has paid their redemption price, or who are catechumens who have not yet been brought to the waters of Holy Baptism. We will pray that their Baptismal birthday comes very soon!
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3–4, ESV).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, we thank and praise You for our Baptisms; grant that we may be held fast in the true faith, and that all people would be brought to the waters of Holy Baptism! We are bold to pray it in Your name, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.