by Jennifer Duncan
This summer, I was excited to attend one of the most significant of family events…the baptism of my youngest granddaughter. What joy! As her parents counseled with Meredith, they were assured that she understood her responsibility for her own sin. She desired to receive not only God’s forgiveness but also the presence and authority of His Spirit in her, to guide her steps for life. So we knew it was time to celebrate! And what a celebration it was!
Meredith’s baptism event was unlike any I had seen before. It was the same immersion in water. The original Greek word in scripture means “to dip,” so that’s where we get this practice. I have seen this dozens of times, but this time, the atmosphere was more festive! It was an outdoor event with several hundred being baptized and even more witnesses gathered around a small lake. It was rather like a large church picnic, and it was joyously loud and yet sweetly reverent.
The sight took me back…to memories of the many baptisms I have seen in various places…
- I thought about my own baptism, performed by my Dad in a small, rural church baptistry, which was filled using a huge hose from a water tank truck parked outside the church door…
- I remembered dozens of baptisms in larger, more modern settings, including my sister’s in a baptistry set high in the church wall, among enormous, gold, organ pipes…contrasted with her son’s baptism many years later in a New Mexico river that looked like a rushing pool of chocolate milk.
- I chuckled at memories of videos I’d seen online, of an eager boy who cannonballed his way into the baptistry, and another who swam underwater from one side of the baptistry to the other!
- I fondly recalled special “creek baptisms” at which my husband was warned to face the candidates downstream, so the rush of water wouldn’t drown them!
- And I laughed at the memory of one creek baptism, performed in record time because of the presence of a snake nearby!
- I thought about two particularly meaningful baptisms in Thailand, where a swimming pool became a sacred place.
All of these baptisms, including Meredith’s, had one thing in common. Each candidate was making a statement to the world, “I have chosen to follow Christ, and my old way of life is a thing of the past.” And with each dip in the pool, there was celebration.
Regardless of the location, the mood or the specific mode, the important thing is the heart’s commitment…that Christ will be Savior and Lord. Scripture tells us that any time this decision is made, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” (Luke 15:10) So when the meaning is right, and the child or adult is ready…it’s time to celebrate, right along with the angels!
Jennifer is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is mom to two grown (twin) sons, two wonderful daughters-in-law and four granddaughters. Her late husband, John, pastored two churches in Barry County, Missouri, and one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jennifer serves in teaching, music and lay counseling through her church, Arnhart Baptist Church, Purdy, Missouri. She also enjoys leading retreats and Bible studies for women.