Wednesday, March 16

A Reflection on Baptisms (and Germany)

I've been thinking about baptisms lately.
Partly because I am studying Jonah, which I get to teach to middle-schoolers this Sunday. Partly because I witnessed eight youth get baptized last night.

I love the symbolism of old-self/new-self, old life/new life, death/resurrection, identity in world versus identity in Christ. I cry at every baptism because it's sweet, wonderful, exciting and powerful.

Let me tell you about some baptisms that I witnessed that have become among my favorite:

Setting is Germany. Black Forest Academy.
Everyone who is baptised comes out on stage, gives a testimony about their relationship with God and why they want to be baptised. Then they get in the little tub-thing and two other people come out, whether it was parents, respected staff members, friends (if it was an adult getting baptised), and/or the pastor. One of the people reads a selected Bible verse, chosen for that person...either a verse that speaks a blessing or encourages growth or speaks into their life situation. Then either the same person or the other person will say a prayer for that individual. Then they baptize. Then clapping, cheering, crying, laughing, hugging, etc.

I love hearing testimonies and think they are (or should be) a key part of every baptism...baptism is a symbol of identifying with Christ. This means that to the world they are going actively choose to speak and live with godliness. Will they mess up? Yes, of course but what baptism should communicate is that they are not going to resort to their old lifestyle where maybe they hid their faith like wall-flowers. Sharing your testimony at your baptism is a practice run, so to speak, of that commitment.

But I also love the idea of having people speak into your life, through God's Word and through prayer. The people are chosen (at BFA) because of the key mentor-like relationship that they have with the individual. What this communicates is that the relationship we have with God isn't meant to be lived alone. We are meant to journey with others. And I don't know about you but I need other people to speak into my counsel encourage or challenge rebuke me. As I grow in my faith, I should seek to be mentored and to mentor others.

So there you have it. What's your favorite part of baptism? What elements does your church include in baptisms? Do you cry at every baptism like me? :)


My name is Cait said...

Yes I cry!!
We have an open microphone so anyone can stand up and share a verse or word for that person. I like to have a card ready to write them down and then give them to the person afterwards. Where I grew up we didn't have a baptismal tub or anything so we would go to someone's swimming pool. I have vivid memories of sitting around the pool as a kid dangling my feet in and singing 'I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back' after every baptism.

Mindy said...

Ooh...I love the open microphone idea!

Moe said...

Baptisms are amazing. Very moving. I have to say, out of all of my Christian experiences, baptism is up there as one of the best experience I have ever had.

I also think that they should be a bit more personal. I like the testimony and the family, friends, mentor idea. That's genius.

Mindy said...

I wish I could say that my baptism was one of my best experiences...I was baptized at 10 and it was good but sadly I think I was just a bit too young to fully appreciate all that it means to me now. Ahh well.