Focus Passage: Luke 3: 15-22
Memory Verse: “You are my son, my beloved, and I am pleased with you!”
Items for Preparation
- If your church’s baptismal area will happen to be filled for baptisms in this morning’s worship, that’s all you need. Otherwise, get a large bowl and fill it with warm water just before worship begins, and set it in a place near where children will gather.
A container of hand sanitizer large enough for every child to use some.
Read the adult lesson in Nurturing Faith Baptists Today, and additional material online. A baptism lesson is always fascinating to kids, so you get to be everybody’s hero for free today! You’re welcome. Baptists’ use of immersion as a primary baptism method is unique in the denominational universe! Baptists have traditionally held that this was the method John used with Jesus in the Jordan. Many Baptist churches now include members who have been baptized in other ways. Make sure you convey your own congregational understanding of this important ordinance in our life of faith in your sermon today.
[Display your bowl of water, or alternatively, gather children near your baptism pool if possible. Allow them to dip their hands into the water as you begin.]
Say: Baptists like us in churches all over the world celebrate a special moment in every person’s life: the moment she makes a decision to become a Jesus-follower, and to live her life as God calls her. You remember when people in our church have made this decision, and they usually will want to tell everybody all about it! They walk down the aisle in worship, and tell the minister first. Then the minister tells all of us about that person’s decision. This is always a happy day for us! It is a happy day for God, who loves each of us and is hoping each of us will decide to become Jesus-followers.
Say: Now, what happens next, after that person has decided to be a Jesus-follower, what’s the next thing we will see them do? [Allow for answers. Some might be pretty funny.]
Say: I’ll give you a hint: it’s about this water right here. Do you remember seeing anybody be baptized? [Maybe some of your kids have already been baptized themselves; let them tell about that, and help them describe it well for children who are overhearing that story.]
Say: Yes, the very next thing that happens is that person gets baptized. That is a funny word that comes from the Greek language, and it means to put something into water and take it out again. In our church [and carefully tailor these remarks for accuracy] our ministers walk into our baptism pool, called a baptistery, together with the person who made her decision. The water is warm and comfortable, and they both are wearing a special robe so their clothes don’t get wet. The person getting baptized brings her hair dryer with her and maybe a towel too.
[Now use your hand and take the hand of one of the children, and demonstrate baptism by putting the child’s hand all the way under the water with yours, then bringing it back up again, as you describe baptism.]
Say: The minister helps the baptism person hold her nose closed, and says “I baptize you my sister in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ, we are raised to walk in a new way of life.” [Please use your church’s wording as needed.]
Say: This is a special day, and a happy day, because when you are baptized, it makes you feel good! You feel the love of God, and the love of Jesus, and the love of all the people in our church who are your brothers and sisters in a new and special way. Now, why do you think we do this? Why don’t we just let people walk down and tell the minister they want to be Jesus-followers? Why do we also do this special baptism thing with water? It is a lot of trouble? People have to go into the dressing room afterwards and dry off, change their clothes, dry their hair, and are late getting back into worship. The minister has to do that too, and sometimes has to hurry to get ready and get back in here in time for the preaching to start! So, why do we do it? [Allow for answers.]
Say: We do it because Jesus did it. He asked his friend and cousin, John, to baptize him. It was Jesus’ way of showing that he wanted to join in the ministry John was doing, and that he wanted people to live following God’s calling, and that HE was going to live a special life. All of us want to live a special life, too, and so we Jesus-followers start our lives by following him into these waters of baptism. We hope that each of you will decide to do this one day, too.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O God of new life,
Thank you for the love you gave
To Jesus on his baptism day.
Thank you for giving us this same love
And keep calling to us
To follow Jesus and to love you,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.