Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Baptism

One of my favorite people/sisters/students as well as one of my favorite stories! It's from September 19, 2013.

This past Sunday was a special day for me. I was blessed to baptize two ladies into Jesus during our AM worship service. One was Jan, the mother of Simon, one of my WCS eighth grade Bible students. Mother and son are from China and Jan has been studying the scriptures intently with David Fang, our Chinese minister. The other was Nancy, a former student of mine and one of the most amazing people ever. (Today is also her birthday!) This is Nancy and me four days ago as she came up out of the water. The picture was snapped by another of her former teachers, Karen Keese. It's already one of my favorites!

This afternoon, as we prepared to review for tomorrow's test, I put this shot upon the screen and told my students a little bit about Nancy's background. I wasn't prepared for the questions which followed:
"Coach, what is that?"
"It's a baptistery."
"Where is it?"
"It's in the church auditorium where we have all-school chapel."

"We don't have one of those in my church! How deep is it?"
Here I called on Maggie, one of my fellow congregants and we decided it's about chest deep on me which must be about four feet deep.

"Is it always ready?"
"It is!"

"What are you wearing?"
"I'm wearing waders like you fish in. I put on workout clothes because I always get my tie wet!"
"What is she wearing?"

"Well, we have some gowns that those being baptized wear." I again had to rely on Maggie as I've never been in the ladies' room upstairs where we prepare. I mentioned a few more things like my Grandpa Hawley was baptized in a lake and most of the believers (2/3rds) I've immersed are foreign born and all but one are female. I might have thrown in that my dad baptized me in the spring of my 7th grade year- I didn't tell them how nervous I was! I'm pretty sure I threw in that my baptism was a cause of rejoicing in my family but not everyone in the world has that blessing.

You might have recognized that all the questions centered around the physical aspects of the baptism and not the spiritual implications, applications, and ramifications. But you know what, I was fascinated by the baptistery in our church building as a little boy. Every time I went to Dad's office- he was the preacher- I stuck my head into the baptistery just to look. And it's possible when I was five or so that I told our neighbor, Mrs. Barr, that I fell in and had to be rescued by the York, Nebraska Fire Department! None of the students asked why Nancy was baptized into Jesus- they probably have an idea- but we'll get there. Maybe we sparked something today. You know, I read a quote tonight by a Christian writer who made the point that if we really want to witness to the world, we'd have our baptisms in public places instead of in our church buildings. I'll have to think about that. I know I like this: while I was typing these short thoughts tonight, Nancy sent me a FACEBOOK picture of what she is studying in the Bible tonight. It's Acts 7 where Stephen begins his defense to the Sanhedrin. But you know what happens when Nancy turns the page to the end of that chapter, don't you? Stephen, the man I was named for, gets killed for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. That's still going on in the world this evening. Here's my confession for tonight- I've got it easy.

Applicable quote of the day:
“The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ's death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ's baptism lives in the strength of Christ's death.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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