[I was asked to give a talk this morning for a young friend's baptism. In the LDS church, children may choose to be baptised when they are eight years old. Later in the day, one of nephews chose to enter the covenant of baptism, also. What follows is the message I shared with my young friend and what I would have said to my nephew if he had asked.]
Today is your Baptism Day. As a child who has been raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have heard about this day at least once or twice a week every week for your entire life. For the past few months, you’ve probably been talking about this every day. That means that you’ve heard about or talked about baptism nearly a thousand times by now. My point, other than showing that math is something we use every day, is that there is probably very little I can say that you’ve haven’t heard yet. However, as you asked me to share a few thoughts, so here we are.
When it comes to baptism, there is probably no scripture cited by members of the church more than the few short verses found in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah, chapter 18, verses 8-10. Here Alma was teaching a group of people the Gospel message as he had learned it and was challenging each of them to cast self-interest and pride. As part of this challenge, he said the following:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
Alma had to explain the baptismal covenant, but when he did it, he was pointed out that they were already doing those things! I’d like to do the same thing, focusing on the first part. But instead of asking this as a question like Alma did, I am simply going to ask you to think about how you have done these things:
“...as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,...”
How do you do this? By going to church, by participating in your classes and in Primary Sharing Time, by reading the Scriptures with your family, and by praying frequently and regularly. (Yes, we often joke in church that these are “Primary answers.” That’s because they are fundamental!
“...and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;...”
How do you help to bear another’s burdens? What does that even mean? To me, it means helping someone when they are struggling. It may be a physical burden, such as carrying in the groceries. But it may also be an emotional burden, such as worrying about an upcoming project or test or worried that a friend is mad at them. Bearing one another’s burdens is simply being kind to others.
“...yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,...”
To mourn is to feel great sorrow, or sadness. When you notice that your mom is sad, do you feel sad for her, too? Do you give her a hug and let her know that you love her? Likewise, we comfort others by once again choosing to be kind or, more specifically, as author J.M. Barrie once wrote, choosing to be kinder than is necessary.
“... and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in…”
Now, I don’t think Alma was saying that you should formally bear your testimony everywhere you go. But you should be living your life in such a way that others look at you and see the light of the Gospel in your words and your actions. As another author, Christopher Nolan, once wrote, and I am paraphrasing here, when you are with others, they should “see the face of God in human form. It will glimmer in your kindness to others, it will glow in your awareness of others’ needs, it will be hinted at in your caring.”
It seems to me, then, that your responsibility, once you are baptised, is to be kind to others. It seems simple, but there will be times when it is challenging. Your baptismal covenant isn’t to be perfect in doing these things, though; it is to be willing to do them. It is my testimony, my witness, and my promise, as one who entered into this same covenant some twenty-five years ago, that as your trust in the Lord and seek His help, you will be blessed with His Spirit to guide you. And remember that you have family, friends, and teachers to help you, also. We are so proud of you for taking this first step that I pray will be a lifetime of Christlike service and discipleship.