A few days ago, a young man stepped into my husband’s office. It’s not unusual. Our church stands on the edge of a city. Many people approach him for help. But this young man didn’t ask for money. He asked to be baptized.
He’s going to be baptized this Sunday, my husband told me excitedly.
We were so excited. Of course we were! We love baptisms! We love it when babies get baptized, and my husband carries them through the congregation to meet their new church family.
But as beautiful and special and meaningful as infant baptism is, it’s the parents who request that for their babies. When a grown man walks in off the street and requests that for himself, you simply know that God is at work in powerful ways.
But would he actually show up? I wondered if he would be brave enough to come, early on Sunday morning.
But show up he did. And he wasn’t alone. The Holy Spirit showed up with him.
My husband donned his stole for this holy moment, because it truly was a holy moment.
I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, my husband said, as his voice was breaking and he poured the water on this young man’s head.
And all of us there, all of us watching, and listening, and feeling that whispering of the Holy Spirit, we all were invited to hold out our hands in prayer over this young man, over his life, and his future, and his walk with God.
And this is what David and I yearn for… to somehow be part of God’s wonderful work in the world; to bring hope and healing into people’s lives; to share the love of God that is higher and broader and deeper and wider than anyone could possibly imagine; to offer the peace of God that transcends all understanding; to transform darkness into light and turn fear into hope.
These are the yearnings that are fulfilled when a brave young man stands at the baptismal font.
The greeting at our church this morning, written and spoken by Deaconess Anne Hillman, still rings loud in my ears:
We welcome you… whether this is your first time through these doors or you’ve been coming here for years. Welcome whether you are a believer, a doubter, or a doubting believer. Welcome whether you are male or female, black or white, young or old, rich or poor, or anywhere in between any of these. Welcome no matter who you love or who loves you. Welcome to the baptized, the unbaptized, or those about to be baptized… welcome ALL to this time and place of worship.
Never have I been prouder to belong to a denomination where all are welcomed, all are loved, and all can receive the cleansing, life-giving, life-transforming waters of baptism.
To God alone be the glory.