You are not baptized by yourself. Baptism is not a private deal. When you’re baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, you are baptized into his community. You become a part of God’s redeemed people. Baptism is not just unity with Christ, it is also very much unity in Christ.

“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:26-28

That’s why we do baptisms on Sundays when the whole church is together. That’s why we cram as many people as we can up on the stage and we all stand as close as we can to the water, so you know this is not just about me and God. This is not just about me and my close relatives or me and my best friends. I am being joined by God into this community. God through Christ is now making me a part of this worldwide, universal, eternal community of the saved in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

I love the way our Spiritual Formation Minister Jim Tuttle says it when he baptizes someone. As soon as he brings them out of the water, he grabs them and says, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is now you are an eternal child of God. The bad news is (gesturing toward the whole church) this is your family!”

This past Sunday was our first ever Baptism Sunday at GCR. I had never done one of these before. I have thought about it and wanted to do it for years, but haven’t been able to pull it off. We gave our church two weeks to think about baptism. To pray about it. To talk to others about it. To listen to God about it. If you have never been baptized or if someone you know has never been baptized, we’re going to spend these two weeks preparing for it and then we’re going to baptize a bunch of people on the 21st.

And, by God’s grace, we did.

Six brand new Christians put on our crucified and risen Lord Jesus in baptism on Sunday. We knew about four of them last week, we learned about one of them Saturday afternoon, and one guy didn’t decide to be baptized until after the second one had happened. Coy was standing¬† on the stage with the rest of us and leaned toward J.E. and said, “Will you baptize me?” Melinda baptized Jayce, one of her co-workers she’s been bringing to church. Matt and Stacey baptized their teenage daughter, Kylie. Lan and Cassie baptized their adopted son, M.J. Philip and Caitlin baptized their two daughters, Madison and Mabel. We were laughing and crying and praising God together as a united community of faith around the waters of baptism. And each time a new Christian came up out of that water, we charged them and blessed them in unison with the opening lines from Colossians 3:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with him in glory!”

It was a glorious day. Those of us who’ve been baptized for a long time remembered our own baptisms with thanksgiving and renewed our commitments to Christ and to one another all over again. And we thanked God for the privilege of participating in these six baptisms together as a church family. We ate and drank the communion meal together and prayed over these new disciples, still literally wet behind the ears, dripping with God’s forgiveness and grace, and filled to overflowing with his Holy Spirit.

May our God bless these brand new Christians with his love and grace. May they look back often on their baptism at GCR and remember what God has created in them. And may they walk with him, together with us, faithful to the end.

Peace,

Allan