In my mind, it was just another morning. I was sleeping quite soundly and the only thing on my mind was breakfast, and then perhaps some more sleep before lunch.
And yet in the midst of my slumber, I was awakened by my parents. They did feed me, but they also washed and dressed me in an outfit I would have never picked out for myself. I had forgotten that it was Sunday, and that meant that instead of cartoons and Sesame Street, we were going to make the 20 minute drive from our apartment to church.
Upon our arrival I noticed that some familiar faces were there. What were my grandparents doing here this morning? And why were my aunts and uncle here? None of them went to church here; was I really that amazingly adorable that they just had to see me on Sunday morning? How could I sleep through the service with all of them watching my every move?
Sleeping during church was going to be a lot more difficult when I noticed that instead of sitting in our normal seats toward the back of the church, we went up front, and for no reason at all sat in the very front of the church. What was going on here?
I was glad when Pastor Haupt came over and made my parents stand up in front of the whole congregation, although I do not know why I had to get up to. I figured he was going to scold them for sitting up front, or better yet, scold them for making a child get up and come to church on a cold winter morning such as this one when all they he wanted to do was sleep and eat.
But he did not scold them, instead he commended them for bringing me this morning, and then he took me, held me over the font, and baptized me in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. On December 13, 1981, at ten weeks old, I was claimed as a child of God in the waters of Holy Baptism.
Yes, at ten weeks, I was already a lost and condemned sinner in need of Christ’s forgiveness. And no, I did not hear Christ softly knocking on the door of my heart waiting for me to answer His call. Rather, Christ knocked down the door of my stone cold, dead heart that Satan had barricaded shut, and Christ entered and claimed me as His own.
And the words of St. John 3:16 were no longer just some generic words spoken about others, instead they were now spoken to me and about me: ‘For God so loved Michael, that He sent His only begotten Son into the world, that should Michael believe in Him, Michael will not perish, but have eternal life.’
Winnie the Pooh once told Christopher Robin that bears have two birthdays. Well the truth is, so do I, and so do all believers: I was born a child of John & Linda Schmidt on October 2, 1981 at Brooklyn Hospital in New York, and I was reborn a child of God in the waters of Holy Baptism December 13, 1981 at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in the Bronx.
Every day I get up and take a breath, every time I reach one of those milestones of life, every time I see my parents, it is a reminder of the gift of life that I celebrate every October 2nd. And every time I pray the Lord’s Prayer, every time I receive the Lord’s Supper, every time I hear that my sins are forgiven, every time I make the sign of the cross, well that is a reminder of December 13th.
Every day is a reminder of my two birthdays: my birth as a son of John & Linda on October 2nd and my birth as a child of God on December 13th.