I’m getting ready this morning to write a letter to Emily. Emily, one of our teens here at Legacy, was baptized here Sunday morning. And I always write a letter to everyone who’s just put on our Savior in baptism, congratulating them, encouraging them, and reminding them to look back often on their baptisms and remember what God through Christ has done for them.
Mark baptized her. Emily’s dad, Greg, had asked Mark to do the honors as a result of some close relationships that are developing in their Small Group. When Mark and Emily and a few family and friends went back behind the stage area to prepare for the baptism, I began talking with our congregation about the importance of baptism. I wanted us all to reflect on our own baptisms and remember what God has created inside all of us. And just as I began to read from 2 Corinthians 5, I heard the water running. Full blast. Into an empty baptistry.
The power was apparantly cut to our worship center sometime on Saturday as a result of some of the construction stuff happening around here. And our baptistry (as a safety measure, I’m told) automatically drains when the power’s off. So they started filling it as quickly as they could.
While the baptistry was filling, we went ahead with the Lord’s Supper and a couple of more songs. Then, finally, Jason and Lance open and hold back the curtains and we see Emily and Mark step into the water. Lance held a microphone over into the baptistry so we could all hear what was being said. One of Emily’s friends was standing at the top of the steps inside the baptistry, clearly visible to all of us in the crowd. And just as Mark was beginning to say, “I now baptize you…” a green garden hose reared up from the water and began spraying Lance and Emily’s friend.
One of the ladies, out of sight behind the scenes, had started to pull the hose slowly out of the water and up the steps in an effort to get it out of the way. She didn’t know the hose was still turned on. And when it came up out of the water, it STOOD UP and began spraying wildly like a hose will do when it’s turned on and nobody’s holding it. Lance got it. Mark and Emily got it. And the poor friend, bless her heart, was balanced on the top step of the baptistry and, in front of God and everybody, had to wrestle this hose down and grab it without getting completely drenched herself.
Somebody from the back hollered at Mark, “Take her confession! She’s going in!”
So we had one baptized and four sprinkled here at Legacy Sunday.
And I’m laughing. Man, I’m rolling. And I’m reminded that the more we plan and the more we rehearse and the more we try to make everything smooth and professional and slick and perfect, the more we need God to show us that it’s not us. It’s him. It’s not what we do at baptism, it’s what God does in washing away our sins and creating in us a new life filled with his Spirit. It’s not how good the worship leader is, it’s what God does in binding our hearts together as we lift up our voices to him in praise and as we sing to each other in mutual encouragement. It’s not how well the Scriptures are read, it’s what the holy Word does in convicting us and inspiring us to live into the stories of God and his people. It’s not how beautifully the prayers are led, it’s what our Father does in opening our souls to him and to each other when we pour out our hearts.
Emily and her family have a wonderful story to remember and to tell about her baptism. We all at Legacy rejoice with her and Greg and SueAnn. The angels in heaven rejoice as the Lord brings another sheep into the flock. And when the baptistry hose gets loose, when we start a song off key, when words from Scripture are mispronounced, and when the preaching is really dry, we know that what we do together on Sundays isn’t nearly as important as what God does.