Water. Jesus’s promise. New life. Adoption into God’s family. Just like that.
Last Sunday I got to baptize a young woman. This past Thursday, I got to baptize two young men and witness a third be baptized.
How cool is that?
You might remember Dilemma. Well, it’s still dilemma’ed, because the girl in question wasn’t there Thursday night, when all this went down. The teen center is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so… well, we may have to address this again next week. But now we have a plan.
We’re going to treat her like an adult and let her have the final say. We will emphasize that she still needs to respect her mom, and it would be best if she was responsible and tell her mom what happened. At the very least, she needs to be an adult and take responsibility for her actions.
Yet, if this is what she wants… good. We will share with her the same blessings we have!
But I want to back up to Thursday. At the beginning of the teen center, the director pulled aside a few young men that he knew were interested in baptism and asked if they wanted it that night. When they replied in the affirmative, our plan rolled into action.
Five o’clock: the normal time for their Bible study. I joined them. The director walked through what baptism is, who should have it, the blessings that it brings. Like normal, the teens talked through the bulk of the thing and showed little outward respect. Yet, when it was time to do some back-and-forth questions and answers, they knew what was going on. They had been paying attention.
Five minute break. Then, upstairs into the sanctuary. I had filled the font with warm water. I’d turned on the sanctuary lights. I lit the altar candles and the paschal candle.
The paschal candle: a candle lit when we think about resurrection. We light it at Easter, at funerals, and… at baptisms. After all, we are baptized into Christ’s death and united with in in his resurrection.
About a dozen teens watched as I opened with an invocation and went into a brief devotion. Imagine you were the one who held the hammer and pounded that stake into Jesus’s wrist. Imagine you found out later that he was God. What would you feel?
Yeah. Imagine you were the one who wanted him to be crucified. Imagine you screamed out for his blood. Imagine you found out that he was God. What would you feel?
It happened. A man explained to a crowd of people who had screamed for Jesus’s blood who Jesus really was. They were cut to the heart. They asked what they should do.
And Peter responded: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Be baptized, and wash away your sins.
Now, compared to those people, how much guilt do you have? Yep. The same amount. What’s the solution?
If you want to be baptized, come on over here.
And one young man leaps to his feet and rushes over. He’s ready. He’s looking forward to this. Two more join him.
The director and I take turns baptizing the young men.
The director closes the service by underlining the change that has occurred. These young men will always remember their baptisms. They may not always value those baptisms, true, but those baptisms will always remain.
They’re officially adopted into God’s family now.
Wow, was it cool to be a part of that. To be used by God. I didn’t plant the seeds of God’s Word there, but I watered them. I am privileged to be a part of this process that God used to nab these young men, to not only pay the price to get them, but to actually kidnap them back from the devil.
They belong to God now.