Remember Your Baptism‚Ä¶ and Be Thankful
I remember my baptism. It happened in an air-conditioned gym, in front of about 200 college students. I stood in a kiddie pool, and after sharing my own story of faith, Reverend David Burke poured water from a pitcher over me three times. “In the name of the Father…” whoosh went the frigid water over me, causing me to gasp, “and the Son…” whoosh, “and the Holy Spirit,” whoosh. I had delayed my own baptism by years, until I was 24, because I had intuitively recognized that my baptism was not just about me, but about the community I was in. So in my tumultuous early 20’s, I waited until I had a stable community to celebrate God’s goodness represented by that cold, cold water rushing over my head. That college ministry had become my family in Christ, David Burke was my pastor, and with them I knew my baptism meant more than it would have had I been dunked in someone’s swimming pool (an opportunity I had once before).
Fast-forward 11 years, and recall with me the baptism of my son Reed. He was not even one year old, dressed in his Sunday best. Though his parents are both pastors, ordained to baptize, we both chose not to baptize him ourselves. We wanted Pastor Mark baptize him. It meant more to us that the blessing of baptism be extended, not by his parents, but by his family in Christ. I remember the tenderness with which Pastor Mark held him, dipping his hand in the font to dribble water over that tiny head three times, splash, splash, splash, speaking blessing over him. Like his birthday, Reed won’t remember the moment. But as Reed grows older, we will celebrate it with him.
Though our baptisms were years apart, they meant the same thing for my son and me. The threefold repetition of the pouring of the water reminds us both that God is a unity, a community, a family in and of himself, even before time. God is love. And here, in baptism, his love was poured out over us both. In both cases, that love is extended to us through the family of God, his church.
Baptism is so much more than an individual declaring their faith; it is the church declaring God’s faithfulness. This Sunday we’re going to be baptizing a number of adults and children at the Eddon Boat Park at 1:30pm. There will be celebration, there will be a picnic before at 12:30pm (bring extra food to share!), and there will music. In other words, it’ll be a lot like a party. And more importantly, in our gathering, in our cheering, our singing, our praying as people come into the water, it’ll be the church professing God’s faithfulness, right there in downtown Gig Harbor.
If there’s one thing I learned from my own baptism, and my son’s, is that baptism wasn’t about me or my son; it was about our Jesus-family and our part in that family. That’s a beautiful thing. I hope you’ll remember your baptism with me this Sunday, and be a part of something really special. And if you desire to be baptized, we will be ready for you. Be prepared to talk with an elder about your faith there on the beach and come ready to get wet!