In the Reforming Church, the Sacrament of Baptism is a sign, not just of welcome into the household of God and the forgiveness of sins, but it is also a sign of calling to follow in the way of Jesus Christ.
In this way, Baptism, like Ordination, is a rite that signifies calling, sending and commissioning to service. Ordination is also a sign that indicates readiness to serve. Likewise, in the Reforming Church, Baptism also indicates readiness to serve. In the Reforming Church, Ordination is a redundant rite
What I want to say is more apparent to traditions that practice infant Baptism, a Baptism of a child whose parents are Followers of the Way of Jesus. We think of children as incapable of discerning the call to serve. We certainly would not send children to seminary. Yet, too, children are called to service. And not only children are called. All who follow Jesus are called to service.
In the Reforming Church, even children, even the youngest of children, serve as beacons of hope. Jesus himself said as much to his disciples seeking to keep the children away from the great teacher. “. . .when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:14-16, NRSV).
The laying on of hands is a part of the rite of Ordination, indicating the transmission of the Holy Spirit. In the Reforming Church, the laying on of hands is no longer tied only to Apostolic Succession. It is also the radical sign of the priesthood of all believers. Laying his hands on the children, Jesus taught that children serve as guides to the Kingdom of God; and as such, their service is especially necessary.
If little children are also called, then how much more are their parents called, and also the larger community of the Followers of the Way? In the Reforming Church, all Followers of the Way find their vocation in the life of Jesus.
Similarly, so also are called those who have special challenges in life such as the mentally or physically impaired. They too are called, however inexplicable, to become beacons of hope.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NRSV). Using the logic of the Apostle, reading beyond the Biblical reference here, one might also say, the ear lobe is as essential to the manifestation by the Spirit of the common good, ever as much as one’s hand. In the Reforming Church all Followers of the Way of Jesus – great and small, young and old, rich and poor – in every aspect of their lives, are called to service. In every age and stage and occupation of life, one’s vocation is the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good – and Baptism is its sign