Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matt. 28:18-20
Baptism is one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith. Since Jesus was baptized by John, those who profess Jesus as Savior and Lord have followed Jesus’ example and have been baptized. We have seen many images in movies of folks gathering at the river, singing hymns and being baptized. Many of us also have memories of our own baptism or that of our children and grandchildren. At the same time this familiar practice and sign of our faith still remains a mystery.
I remember my baptism at the age of 10 before the congregation of Parkview Christian Church in Mount Carmel, IL. The pastor had spoken with me at length after I expressed my desire to be baptized and told me how there was great rejoicing in heaven and on earth when someone gave their life to Christ and was baptized. The feeling I recall from that day coming out of the water and being embraced by all the folks in the church was a sense of awe that God loved me and that all of the people around me, even the saints who have gone ahead were sharing in God’s love for me.
I remember as well when my boys were baptized together at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, NC. Deb and I were overwhelmed by the sense of God’s love surrounding us in that community promising to help us to nurture our boys in the way of Jesus Christ. The commitments we made that day before them and the promises they made to us connect us even to this day though we are far from them physically.
Throughout August, Steve and I are going to preach a series on baptism. We hope this will be a time where we all can remember and reflect on what baptism means for us Christians and how it is a sacrament that shapes our lives of faithfulness to God. The final week of the series Steve has a wonderful service in mind that I think is going to be very memorable and meaningful. I hope you will be able to join us for this series and that we will emerge from it with a renewed sense of the call to discipleship and the assurance of Christ’s presence with us.