"An outward sign of an inward grace." I first heard this description of Presbyterian sacraments from the right Reverend Bob Moon, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Hillsboro Texas. I was just getting back to the Presbyterian church and learning theology and polity while taking my first officer's training class prior to Deacon ordination in the Hillsboro Church.
There are two sacraments in the Presbyterian Church, communion and baptism. Bob used the above quote to help us all understand why Presbyterians do what they do. We believe that God is omnipotent, loving and generous and that human kind basically kind of sucks. We believe God's grace is for all and God does not depend on us to earn his grace because, well, see the previous statement, we kind of screw up everything pretty much all of the time so if God waited for us to be good enough, not going to happen, therefore God's grace. Thus, in our theology we use human signals, human signs of God's grace and love for all of us. We find these in our sacraments.
Marty and I saw "an outward sign of God's grace" this weekend when we saw our first grandson Noah Robert Kinard baptized. We saw Noah and three other infants, through the church, baptized and introduced as children of God. We saw and heard the people of the church say they will take our grandson in their hearts and minds and live their own baptisms by keeping him in their heart and prayers. We saw our children stand with their first child, as we did 30 years ago, and promise to renounce evil and raise and teach Noah in the ways of Christ. We saw, with my parents, who stood with me 55 years ago as I was baptized, the connection of our faith and the grace of God in our lives.
In our church in Waco we always sing "Jesus Loves Me" as our minister, Jimmie Johnson, takes the baby down the aisle, in the midst of the church and introduces the child to the congregation. I'm a bit chagrined to confess I always, always find this moment particularly moving. In Matt and Sarah's church in Dallas, the concept is the same as the minister introduced each of God's children to us. As I watched Noah being held by the minister who married Matt and Sarah I could feel the power of the moment. I looked at Marty in her chair as she intently watched the whole ceremony and I was once again reminded of that inward Grace that God freely gives.