"BAPTISM - What a time!"
Baptism, what a time!
We do baptisms the old fashioned way. What do I mean by that? Two things. One, we do them in the river. Have you ever been to a river baptism time? What a time it is! We make a big celebration picnic part of the day. We feel that it’s such a big deal that we make a big deal out of it - all the church family and lots of guests gathered at the river to watch people take a public stand to profess their faith and love for Christ!
But the other thing I mean when I say we do baptisms the ‘old fashioned way’ is this - we baptize people into the same faith that people have been baptized here in the Great Village river for close to 200 years now; the same way people within the tradition of classic, historic Christian faith have practiced for nearly 2000 years; the way that Jesus Himself was baptized actually. We baptize people according to the command of Christ to go and make disciples that we read in Matthew 28, a passage often referred to as the Great Commission. We baptize people in the hope of Jesus Christ who is the only Hope for this world, either side of the grave.
Baptism is all about identifying with Christ and with the local family of believers/followers. We prepare people for baptism with some good solid teaching on what it’s all about; what it means to believe in Jesus and what it means to follow Him. During the baptism time when we are out in the water we ask each one being baptized to publicly respond to these two questions:
1. Have you accepted Jesus Christ personally as your Saviour and the Lord of your life?
2. Is it your intention to live your life fully for Him as the Lord Himself enables you by His Spirit to do so?
In the teaching time leading up to the baptism time we want to prepare people for those two questions. We want that first question to be answered out of a genuine encounter with Christ that accompanies a basic but clear understanding and acceptance of the gospel of grace. And we seek mentor each one in a way that gives them a basic understanding of what a life following Jesus looks like practically as we go about our daily lives; what it means to walk with Christ and be part of His church and how we reach out to others with that same gospel of love and grace.
And of course, we always take the opportunity at the river to preach the gospel to all who are gathered to see it all and to explain what it is that those being baptized are proclaiming. What a time we have! All of this undoubtedly seems to be very ‘old fashioned’ to some, but I tell you what - it never gets old!