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The Baptism of Jesus

“It’s not every day a pastor gets to baptize baby Jesus,” Pastor A quipped, holding aloft the newly baptized baby.

The congregation chuckled, because we all understand Pastor’s reference.  This was the baby that had played the part of Jesus in the Christmas pageant a few months prior.

Having gone for more than 30 years to churches that only perform believer’s baptisms, I’m still not sure how I feel about the infant baptisms done at our new church.  This one was different, however, because the baby has Down Syndrome.  She (yes, baby Jesus was played by a girl) may never be able to fully make that decision, but her parents promised, in the presence of God and the congregation, to teach her about Jesus and to raise her in a Christian home.

The pastor put the water on her forehead three times, “In the name of the Father, who made you…”

I started thinking about God the Creator, making this beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome.  Her tongue protruded through the whole affair, perhaps hoping to catch a few drops of baptismal water.  Yes, He made her just the way she is.

“In the name of Jesus, your Savior…”

Yes, He died for little baby Eden.

“In the name of the Holy Spirit, your Guide and Comforter.”

I still marvel at our Triune God, a God who lives within me and without me, a God who made all things, a God who allowed Himself to be fully man, yet still remained fully God.  The whole thing is mind-boggling.

When I had seen the baby they used at Christmas time, I remember thinking how perfect it was to have Eden as that baby.  I knew that people in some of our old churches would have been aghast — a girl?  with Down Syndrome?  playing Jesus?  Yet something about it seemed poetically right.

Madonna and Child, by Andrea Mantegna -- circa 1460 -- in which Jesus appears to have some of the characteristics of Down Syndrome

Madonna and Child, by Andrea Mantegna — circa 1460 — in which Jesus appears to have some of the characteristics of Down Syndrome

We try to hide our humanity and allow people to only see a mask of good, but, in the depths of our hearts, we are anything but.  Someone with Down Syndrome wears their humanity right on their face, the high forehead, the flattened face, the folds under their slanted eyes.  One glance reveals all.  Imperfection, and yet perfection.

Even her name, Eden, speaks of perfection and a fall from perfection.

Eden didn’t make a peep during the whole ordeal.  She gazed with eyes full of wonder at the pastor and clumsily reached a fat little hand up to pat the pastor’s cheek.  While being passed from pastor to father, her flowing pink dress hitched up to reveal pink satin shoes, but there was none of the kicking, crying, arching of back, and squirming that I’ve seen other babies do in similar situations.  Just wonder.

And the wonder was contagious.

I was privileged to see baby Jesus baptized this weekend.

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One comment on “The Baptism of Jesus

  1. catterel
    March 11, 2013

    That is really beautiful, and such a lovely painting. Downs children are usually very happy and cheerful, and bring a lot of joy. I think it’s great to have Jesus played by this little girl.

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2013 by in Miscellaneous conversations, Postaday 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , .

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