Last week was momentous for so many reasons. Not primarily, but in some ways the best part, was that I got to wear my bathing suit to church. To my job. My job was to get wet in front of the congregation for the sole purpose of baptizing 4 young men.
It was my first time being a licensed pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church doing a baptism. I had been asked many times in the past to baptize students as we humbly got to see many students say yes to Jesus for the first time in college. But one of the ways we honored the institution of the Church was to not baptize, unless we had the credentialing. I never was so instead, we could partner with local churches, gather as many students as wanted to, and have a local pastor host a service for us.
Last week, we got to hear from 4 young men about how they believe in Jesus and wanted to take a public step to say they want to follow Him. I knew most of the boys. One was my son’s good friend.
And one I knew quite well.
Elam had been talking about being baptized last year in Duluth but something didn’t sit quite right with him, so he waited. This year he said he “wanted to be dedicated to God.”
And so on November 10, 2019, in front of many new friends and many of our family members who made the trek, it was so.
As I dunked each kid, I was choked up by the honor I had in doing the act of baptism for these families. I was also struck by how the kids literally changed. The water changed their faces: they had to close their eyes and scrunch up their noses. The water altered their hair and slicked it back. Their clothing became heavy and changed colors. As they entered the water, they giggled about how cold it was. One kid practically jumped into the pool he was so eager. Others quickly wrapped up the big, fluffy white towels we provided for them.
Elam and I waddled out to the lobby and to my office afterwards. We left wet, large and small footprints on the carpet. We got inside my office and toweled off, laughing about how funny it was to get soaked at church and how I needed 3 outfits for the day. (I had baptisms in 2 services).
I don’t know exactly happens as a pastor asks 9 year old boys to commit to Jesus and then another pastor dunks them in the water. I don’t know what happens to those watched (well, I do actually: many cried with deep emotion). I don’t know what will happen as these boys grow up.
But I do know it was a magical, mystical, wet, transforming experience for all of us in varying ways. And that John the Baptist, Jesus, the early disciples baptized those who wanted to change directions.
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4