Baptism a new beginning
A youngster in my office asked me one time what I thought heaven would be like. I told him I thought it would be like a big family reunion; surrounded by those who love us and whom we love.
I thought about his question on a recent Easter Sunday. Two churches: The First Christian Church and Christ First Ministries joined together for the Easter celebration and to baptize six youth. The pews were filled to overflowing; hats bobbing; babies everywhere; music that soared high up into the rafters.
Oh, it was a glorious day all right. When the baptism candidates entered the sanctuary, dressed in long white robes, it was like a parade of angels. One young man, now college age, I’ve known since he was a youngster. He is tall, slender, and that day beamed a broad smile he was wearing his decision to be baptized on his face.
The five from Christ First Ministries ranged in age from young adolescent to their early twenties. They were equally jubilant and solemn at the same time, about their baptism.
Pastor Margi Colerick and Minister Melva Jarrett, in hip boots and waders, joined together in the baptistery to perform the baptism of each of the candidates, taking them below the waters, bringing them up again, symbolically dead to sin, alive in Christ. The candidates entered the water as gangly swans but emerged as soaring eagles: Eric, Brandon, Kyra, Quadra, Gary and Nyse.
Minister Melva Jarrett had the privilege of baptizing two of her own children; I only imagine the joy and responsibility she must have felt. I know what I felt standing near the stairs and helping each candidate into the water-privileged and humbled. I also know what it felt like when each of them burst from the waters, spewing water and electric energy. I don’t know what it sounded like in the sanctuary but I know what the cheers and uproar sounded from the other candidates where I was standing — the roar of touchdown in the last three seconds of the game.
This is not the touchdown, the end of the game; it is the beginning. Whoosh, one said to me, knuckle-bumped my hand, whoosh, one for Jesus. She grinned broadly and leaped off the bottom step into the cheers of her family and friends.
Moments following, when the two congregations shared the communion elements — broke bread together and sipped the juice symbolic of the blood of Christ — forgiven and redeemed, it was as if two families had come together and become one. Two Shepherds, ebony on white, white on white — in the end, no color at all; one flock.
“And God will raise you up on eagle’s wing, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of God’s Hand. “ Whoosh.