TONY ELDER: Baptizing a grandchild provides unrivaled joy

This Sunday will be a special day of celebration. Of course, every Lord's Day is an opportunity for believers in Christ to gather to celebrate and worship our resurrected Lord.

However, this particular Sunday there will be additional reasons for remembering and rejoicing. For one thing, a national holiday -- Veterans Day -- falls on that day this year. On this annual occasion let's not forget to honor our veterans who have faithfully served our country.

Secondly, in our family we will be celebrating a milestone birthday for my eldest daughter. Has it really been 30 years since our first baby came into this world? It seems like it was only a few short years ago when I turned that age myself.

But as significant as these other events are, I consider a third happening on Sunday as being an even greater cause for celebration.

While being a pastor has its unique burdens and challenges, it also carries with it some immeasurable perks. I get to enjoy one of those this Sunday as I baptize one of my grandsons. Every baptism is significant, but those involving your own family are even more special.

While the commemoration of a physical birth might give us reason to throw a party, the occasion of a spiritual birth results in a celebration in heaven. Jesus revealed to us that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10). If heaven rejoices over such an occurrence, shouldn't we do so also?

It's hard to imagine anything rivaling the joy that accompanies the birth of a child or a grandchild. But as I've contemplated this upcoming event, I believe it far surpasses those other joyous occasions.

That inner exultation stems from more than merely seeing a future generation follow in your footsteps or adhere to the same beliefs to which you are committed. It's the realization of the most earnest prayers and highest aspirations we had for that child when he was born.

It's the relief of seeing him respond to the grace of God and the truth of the gospel, knowing that we all must do so to be saved from our sins and the wrath of a holy God.

It's the joy of knowing that he's entering a personal relationship with a loving Christ who will be his Shepherd along the pathway of life, leading him to green pastures and walking with him even through the valley of the shadow of death.

It's the peaceful assurance of knowing that a loved one's name is written in the Book of Life, providing the hope of a glad reunion in heaven one day.

We parents and grandparents in such a situation can relate to the father Jesus once spoke about -- the one who celebrated when his wayward son returned home. He told his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Luke 15: 22-24).

In other words, "It's party time!"

I'm not planning to kill any fatted calves on Sunday, but we will be doing some significant celebrating. Will you join me and the angels in heaven in rejoicing over those individuals we know who receive Christ into their hearts as their Savior?

Let's pray that they will continue in that wonderful relationship of faith throughout their lives.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.