It seems Sunday was a special day for the sacraments–using “sacraments” in the literal sense of “holy things.” We shared an extraordinary communion experience, as described in the preceding posting, only to be blessed into tears by a baptismal service.
I’ve mentioned before my delight in our practice of allowing fathers to baptize their own children. Having done this myself (four times!), I can only say that the joy is inexpressible. We are now seeing the logical–and blessed–natural progression of this idea.
Two weeks ago, in a private ceremony, a husband and wife entered our baptistry to immerse their daughter into Jesus. I knew it wouldn’t take long for the women to want to share in this blessing (and well they should)!
But even better, this Sunday one of our very young teenagers immersed his little brother before the congregation. His little brother had asked that he do the honors–and do so while his grandmother could be present to watch.
Now, we’re a predominantly white congregation, but we’ve been working for years to become a multi-racial congregation, with some success. It’s important to us and to Jesus that we overcome the divide created by the past’s prejudices. And so, it was especially touching that this, our first baptism performed by a teenager for his brother, was within one of our black families.
I cannot express the joy of seeing a very young teenager up in the baptistry taking sheer delight in immersing his little brother into Christ–courageously standing before the crowd, saying the words he’d carefully memorized because he truly understood the importance of the moment. Much less can I express the delight of seeing white, brown, and yellow faces looking on in rapt admiration and pride at this young man’s simple act of faith.
Just as our communion service indelibly touched the heart of this congregation, this starkly simple baptism brought us closer to one another than 100 sermons or Bible classes could ever do.
Thanks to our ministers for having the wisdom and humility to step aside and let the amateurs have a turn. It’s a lot to give up. But what greater gift could a congregation give a family? and what greater gift could a family give its congregation? We are truly privileged to have shared in this moment.