A bit of heaven

Few things in life are sweeter than the baptism of young children, a scene of peace and purity repeated across the Church every month.

There is an air of excitement long before the actual baptism takes place. In countless homes, conscientious parents have taught the importance of baptism to their children in family home evenings and other gospel

discussions.The Lord is explicit about our responsibility in preparing our young children for baptism before they reach age 8, the age of accountability:

"And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents." (D&C 68:25.) Can there be any question who has the major responsibility in teaching children about being prepared to enter the waters of baptism? The Lord has placed that responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of the mother and father. Parents who shirk this duty will have to answer for their sin of neglect.

At a later date, the Lord reaffirmed our obligation to our children when He said, "But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth." (D&C 93:40.) To bring up children in light and truth is to bring them up in an understanding and acceptance of the word of God. Do our children understand the doctrine of repentance, of faith in Jesus Christ, and the importance of baptism? Do they understand the responsibility that is theirs of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and the blessings that come through possessing this divine gift?

We are not left alone in the duty of teaching our children. The Lord, in His wisdom, has provided a great support system in the Church. There is a kind and understanding bishop or branch president who can give us help and direction; there are dedicated and loving Primary leaders and teachers who have an opportunity each week to provide instruction to our children; and there are faithful and caring home teachers who come into our homes each month with the divine mandate to strengthen the members of our family.

But, in no way, does any of this support absolve us, as parents, from preparing and teaching our children the importance of the sacred covenant of baptism and bringing them up in "light and truth." We have the obligation of teaching our children "to walk uprightly before the Lord." (D&C 68:28.) We must not make the mistake of thinking the Church or any of its organizations has that responsibility.

All children ready for baptism have had interviews with their bishops or branch presidents or a counselor, and have satisfied their priesthood leaders that they understand the steps they are taking. The priesthood leader has issued to them recommends, hopefully the first of many recommends in their lives, granting them the privilege of participating in the saving ordinances of the gospel.

A nd then comes the special day of baptism, a day long remembered, a day of eternal blessings. It is a day when these precious children become members of the Church of Jesus Christ and have the gateway leading to the kingdom of God opened to them. It is a day of following the example of the Savior, who Himself was baptized in the River Jordan. In many cases, the baptism of children is a special family affair, where not only the parents and brothers and sisters attend, but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends often come to give love and support.

The children, dressed in white - a symbol of purity - feel the sacredness of the occasion. There is a special glow and excitement in their faces. Who can deny that these children are greatly loved by the Lord? The scriptures are full of references that help us understand the special place of children in the eyes of God.

Witnessing the baptism of young children, who so recently have reached the age of accountability, gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own baptism. Are we still keeping the commandments? Are we still keeping the covenants we made at that time? Or is there something in our lives that is causing the joy of that special occasion to be diminished? If so, let us remember the words of the Lord: "Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God." (3 Ne. 9:22.)

Yes, the baptism of children is a little bit of heaven on earth. Surely angels must be in attendance.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed