Thursday, September 08, 2011

Emergency Baptism

There's disagreement out there on the topic of whether healthy babies should be baptized right after birth or if it's better to wait until the child can come to one of the services of the Church. There is, however, no disagreement about baptizing a baby who is in imminent danger.

My mom was a nursery nurse. Sometimes she would baptize babies. However, not everybody knows that it's not only okay, but good, for a layman to baptize a baby in an emergency. Sometimes we think such things "go without saying." But they don't; they need to be said -- in this situation, it is not disrespectful to the pastoral office to baptize the child yourself. So I just want to mention this right now, for my young readers who may be having children in the coming years, as well as for those of y'all who are in the medical field and may have the opportunity to be around at your patient's end.

Friday morning is a funeral for two little boys for whom Jesus died. We grieve with their parents.


  1. Prayer for God's comfort for the parents has been said. May they be surrounded with Christians who will help them through this loss.

    Pastors must instruct their students in emergency baptism. I remember my confirmation class pastor doing this when I was 13. He made it such an issue of importance, I remember it to this day. Impress it upon the childenand they will remember it into adulthood.

    What a blessing your mother was to be able to baptize the babies she did. God places His people where He can use them for His purposes.

  2. Praying for comfort for those little boys' families and friends.

    Our son was baptized the night after he was born becuase the doctors didn't know if he would make it. I couldn't be there because I was at the hospital he was transferred from, but my husband was there along with his parents' pastor. How grateful we were to know our son was baptized. And how wonderful that your mom baptized those babies she knew were in danger.

  3. Thank you, Barbara & Pam, for the prayers on behalf of the mommy & daddy.

    Pam, both pastors involved do talk about emergency baptism when they catechize on baptism. I guess maybe the parents weren't there that day; somehow they'd never heard. I guess that means it's up to all of us to bother to suggest it when we hear that a pregnant mom is having problems. I wonder how many people besides me are thinking, "I could have said something before Nicholas was born, but for whatever reason, I didn't."

  4. Susan - Jeremiah was baptized shortly after his father, Keith. What a blessing for both of them to be a part of that. I would have been a little scared, I think, performing such an amazing miracle but I think Keith felt honored. And I know I was grateful it happened.

  5. This is something we knew about, I don't know why Paul and I didn't do it. We talked about it, and I think the shock of the situation put us in a place where we just were too shocked that this was happening again. It was also 2 in the morning and there was a lot of tiredness. But I believe God will take care of our Nicholas and Christopher even though they weren't baptized. Until you are in the situation of losing your child you really don't know how you are going to react or what you will do or not do.

  6. We were "there that day", and we know about and agree with emergency baptism. In the panic and confusion of everything that was happening, though, I honestly didn't think of it until it was too late. It would have been helpful to have someone say something to us so that we were prepared for that eventuality, even though it wouldn't have been -news- to us. What you know in the quiet of your sitting room is different than what you're thinking about when the lives of your wife and son are at risk.

    If you have the opportunity to say something to parents in this situation, please don't hesitate to do so.

  7. Paul and Cassie, I can't imagine what you were going through that night. I am thankful, at least, that so many of us were praying for you both and for Nicholas all day Thursday and on into the early hours of Friday before we knew.

    I thought on Thursday about mentioning baptism, but I foolishly thought it would be a downer to suggest that he might be born soon. I wanted so much for the doctors' help to be able to postpone his birth for several more weeks or even months. I regret my silence, and I hope I won't ever make that mistake again. Paul and Cassie, I should have asked on Friday for you to forgive me for keeping my mouth shut.

    Gary was surprised that no one at the hospital asked about religious rites or suggested baptism. As you both said, when there's an emergency and Daddy is thinking about the lives of his wife and son, there's SO much going on. That's why we would have hoped a nurse or doctor or somebody would suggest it.

    And yes, Cassie, you are spot-on right: the Lord Jesus died for them and gave His blood to forgive their sins. He wants them and you with Him in heaven. His mercies are sure, and His love for Nicholas and Christopher is even bigger than the love you two have for your boys ... even as wildly humongous as your love is.

    You remain in my prayers.

  8. The pastor who confirmed me made this part of our instruction, pointing out where in our Small Catechism and our hymnals we could find instructions, and also explaining that even that short rite was not necessary, if time was pressing, but only the baptism itself, water and the Word makes it a valid baptism.

    Cassie & Paul, above, I am so sorry for your loss.