Today, Tasha, one of our beloved Greenleafers, was baptized in the Haw River. We sang a little, somebody prayed, then Tasha was taken out in to the water and baptized. After that we sang again, somebody read from the Bible, some people prayed for Tasha, then everyone had lunch together.
But in short, Tasha got wet. I mean, isn't that what it boils down to? She went in dry and came out wet?
How crazy, even absurd, that baptism, the dunking of a person in water, is a sign of the new life that person now possesses! It seems like God could have come up with something a lot better. A better ritual, a better display, something with a bit more pizazz!
But in reality, I can't think of a better picture of what God has done to Tasha than what happened this morning. She stepped into the water dry and came out wet. In that action, we see an embrace, an immersion into God's presence and an enfolding into His family.
For ancient Jews, baptism was an outward show of their awareness of their need to turn/ return to God (a.k.a. repentance). It was a display of the cleansing that God had done and was doing in them, a cleansing of thoughts, motives, desires, and behaviors. John the Baptizer preached, 'Turn to God, the kingdom of God is close, even here right now!!'
For followers of Jesus, it is all of the above and then some. Baptism is a picture of death and life. As Tasha went under the water, we saw a picture of her 'death' to her self - selfish ways, self-centered thoughts, not doing things God's way, etc. As she emerged, we saw a picture of her 'live' again - new life lived in Jesus, with Him taking first place in all things and all the other things that were not as important or not good for Tasha either taking a backseat to Jesus or being cast completely away.
I was so moved by the scene and I know lots of other people were too. Tasha did much more than just get wet. She told all of us, Greenleafers, family members, and all her friends that came to see her get dunked, that she has 'died' and now 'lives' again.