Mark 1:4-11 (NRSV)
Verse 4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Verse 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Verse 6Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. Verse 7He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. Verse 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Verse 9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Verse 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. Verse 11And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
I baptized my cat.
I was young, maybe five. I had seen a baptism in worship that day, and figured my cat needed a “special bath” too. I don’t remember the words I used, but I seriously doubt it was done in the name of the Triune God. And despite the blessing of animals many do on St. Francis day, my hunch is that particular baptism really wasn’t very effective. But what baptism is?
We pastors sometimes baptize and rarely see the baptized again. Despite our best pre-baptism meetings, sometimes we don’t see the fruit of our labors.
Which is not to say God doesn’t. And that is the bottom line when it comes to baptism; we pastors don’t control what happens in that water and with those words. We do our best; the rest is up to God.
Unless it’s a cat. Then pretty much, we’re on our own.
God, who has called us into faith, remind us again and again of your love and commitment to us, and help us to trust in your saving work, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.