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Baptism As Hospitality

It may sound strange to speak of the relationship between parents and children in terms of hospitality. But it belongs to the center of the Christian message that children are not properties to own and rule over, but gifts to cherish and care for. Our children are our most important guests, who enter into our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way. Children are strangers whom we have to get to know. They have their own style, their own rhythm and their own capacities for good and evil. They cannot be explained by looking at their parents….

Many parents question the value of baptism of newborn babies. But one important aspect of early baptism is that when the parents bring their child to the church, they are reminded that the child is not their own private property but a gift from God given to a community that is much larger than the immediate family.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out (Doubleday Image, 1985), pp. 81, 83.