What’s The Deal With Baptism? // M-Note 7.19.19
As the story was told to me, I was baptized in my grandmother’s house by a catholic priest when I was less than a year old. A staunch Roman Catholic, my grandmother, and by extension my father, wanted me to be baptized as soon as possible. The popular belief then was that you needed to act quickly because one’s eternal life depended on getting baptized. Needless to say, I don’t remember my baptism. It was done long before I could respond or had any role to play at all.
In many ways, that is good. When we are baptized as infants, it stresses and illustrates the nature of God’s grace, which always claims us before we do anything to earn or deserve it. God acts first and our duty is to respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I couldn’t respond right away of course. Instead my parents stood up and took a pledge on my behalf, promising to resist evil, follow Christ, and raise me in the church until such time as I could confirm the faith for myself. It worked.
Nearly 10 years later in my little Methodist Church in Washington, MO I made the commitment to follow Christ. This time, it was my choice because of my own experience and knowledge of Jesus. This choice was important as well. It illustrated that God never forces us to follow. God loves us first, before we do anything. But we get to decide whether or not to love God back, and to commit our lives to Jesus. This choice is not a one-time thing. But something we commit to and them recommit to doing throughout our lives. That is why the church often celebrates opportunities to remember your baptism, and recommit to following Jesus.
Many of you were baptized a long time ago, either as kids or as infants. Some of you have been baptized more recently or maybe have never been baptized at all. Regardless of your past experience, I think it is important that every so often we mark our renewed commitment to Jesus in a profound, public and powerful way.
That is what we will be doing as a church on August 11 as we celebrate Baptism services at all of our sites to finish our series on Acts. This is a Sunday for EVERYONE to participate. If you have never been baptized (or aren’t sure) this is a chance for you to be baptized. For all the rest of us, it will be a chance to renew and remember our baptism as we commit ourselves anew to follow Jesus. But wait, there is a twist. We will be doing baptisms and remembering your baptism through full immersion (that means getting dunked underwater). We have never done this before, and many of you have never experienced it. You are going to want to. Below I am including a few details and some questions you might have. I hope that you will join us that weekend in remembering your own baptism or being baptized for the first time.
As I go, let me just say that I have renewed my own baptism through immersion twice – in the Jordan River in Israel and in the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. But I cannot wait to renew my baptism right here at The Gathering, where I worship each week and follow God in my day to day life.
I hope you can’t either. Have a great day and I will see you this weekend in worship as I continue our series on Accidental Influencers.
Baptism Sunday Details
Where: All of our sites and all of the services
How: Full Immersion
Who: Anyone, any age. Even your kids
What Does it Mean: To be baptized or to remember your baptism is a way to mark your commitment to follow Jesus as your Lord.
Won’t I Get Wet: Yep! And it is going to be a blast. We will do the baptism at the end of worship. You can wear casual clothes and even a swimsuit. We will have a special shirt for you when you arrive that you get to wear and keep. The whole day will be oriented around baptisms.
How do I get in on this: While you will be able to respond spontaneously that morning, we would love to know that you are going to participate ahead of time. Just let us know you are going to be a part of it by registering here.
I am nervous: That is good. Meaningful experiences come with a little apprehension. It is going to be a remarkable day and I hope you do it.