Yesterday afternoon, a neighboring church celebrated the baptisms of eight people, each of whom has experienced salvation in Jesus and is dedicating his or her life to following him. Together with seven other people who were baptized in September, the Midland Missionary Church has now seen fifteen people go through the waters of baptism in the past few months. Praise the Lord for how he is moving in that congregation!
I had the privilege and the joy of observing yesterday’s baptism service. Midland Missionary Church has no baptistry of its own, so their pastor asked if they could “borrow” ours, since ours is indoors and heated – both of which are very helpful for January baptisms. Without hesitating, I said “yes”: this is how churches should work with each other.
What I observed in this baptism service was truly wonderful: a family of God’s believers, committed to following Jesus, rejoicing in the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these eight people. Two adults and six young people were baptized; one of the adults spoke for a few minutes about how God has moved in her life to bring her and her husband to this moment of baptism. The atmosphere of their gathering was informal and warm. The people were not anxious or threatened by being in an unfamiliar building. They were just there to witness these eight professions of faith and to celebrate what God is doing in their community.
The pastor of Midland Missionary Church, Ron Ecklebarger, spoke for a few minutes about what baptism is and what it means. It’s always good for people to learn or be reminded of what this strange ritual is about. And then, one by one, each of the eight people stepped into the baptistry, acknowledged their belief in Jesus, and were baptized.
What really caught my attention was the way the congregation responded. About fifty people were there, mostly on the right-hand side of the sanctuary, the side on which the baptistry sits. The people applauded and cheered after each person was baptized, which I expected. What I didn’t expect was this: the visible sense of anticipation and excitement for each baptism. The people toward the back of the sanctuary stood up so they could see the baptisms take place. I wish I could have taken a picture from the side. Imagine what it looked like: dozens of people filling the pews, all of them attentive to – no, participating in – the baptisms; those in the front staying seated, those in the middle crouching up, those in the back standing up, everyone jostling to make sure they experience – no, share in – the joy of the moment.
It was a beautiful sight.
Thanks be to God for how he is moving in our community! It truly is wonderful to be part of the family of God.