Baptism

Photo of the Week – 9 May

We’ve been remiss for the past several months as we’ve travelled around the US at keeping up with the Photo of the Week. So, throughout the month of October, we will be catching up with a post each day. Enjoy the look into our lives!

On Sunday, 8 May, we joined the local church in Kuşadası for “Church at the Beach.” This event happens a few times throughout the summer, and includes worship, teaching, lunch, swimming, and Baptisms!

This particular Sunday seven individuals were baptized! It was an amazing day of welcoming new brothers and sisters into the Kingdom. And, God, had a special welcome for them as well.

Even though there had been no rain and there were no clouds in the sky, when the first new believer went under the water a rainbow appeared as a perfect ring around the sun. It remained in place until the last of those being baptized came up out of the water!!

Rainbow around the Sun

A baptism rainbow around the sun.

 

 

Advent14 — Come, Lord Jesus!

A reading from the Gospel of Mark.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:1-8 (CEB)

This is the Word of the Lord.

John the Baptist is one of my favorite men in the Bible. I've written about him in other places on this blog. He's one of these people who loom much larger than life. He towers above other characters.

Camel hair.

Locusts.

Leather belt.

Wild honey.

And, proclaiming a message unlike any ever heard: “Prepare the way!”

Last year, when we were in Central Asia, we were privileged to witness the baptism of a new indigenous believer. It was amazing to know and see one more person entering into the Kingdom. Beginning that walk that leads from the cross to eternity. Beginning his new life in heaven now, yet also anticipating a life that goes on for eternity.

Occasionally, when I take communion, especially in creative access nations, I think of this man and his baptism. I think of how communion is that family dinner that spans time and space. Together with all the saints. Those who have come before and those who are yet to come.

And, John comes to prepare the way. He comes to proclaim that the time is now ripe for Messiah. Like a herald in a medieval castle. He comes to proclaim that all things are ready. The King is coming.

We look at the world today, and hear it screaming out in pain. The UN tells us that millions of Syrians are refugees or internally displaced peoples. Another couple of million have fled from Iraq to Kurdistan. Children are without education or even the possibility of education. An entire generation stands in the balance.

Men and women and boys and girls in so many places on the planet cry out for rescue.

For redemption.

For a new kingdom.

For a home.

And, Jesus stands at the ready. Yet, he wants you and I to partner with him in bringing Advent–hope, peace, joy, and love–to these people.

We bring Advent with every prayer we pray for them.

We bring Advent with every dollar we give.

We bring Advent with every worker we send.

We bring Advent with every water well we drill.

We bring Advent with every preschooler and mother we teach.

Somedays, it seems that the road to the manger will never end. It seems that we will always be stuck between a promise of redemption and actual redemption. We stop at places along the path and stand in sacred silence with nothing to say except “Come, Lord Jesus.”

The hope of Advent is that the Messiah is on the way. He brings with him peace, and joy, and love. He comes to bring justice–the setting right of all things

And, so, we cry out, “Come! Lord Jesus!”

 

Lent 2012: 2.4 — Eight at a Time

Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.  Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. — 1 Peter 3:8-22 (ESV)

The Epistle reading and the Old Testament reading for the first Sunday of Lent, bring us to the same story.  It’s a familiar story that we all remember from the flannel-graphs of our childhood.  Noah and the Ark.

Yesterday, we looked a bit at the covenant side of this story.  God established a rescue plan for Noah, his family, and anyone else willing to get in the boat.  The flood was coming, and God in His Grace, said, “I’ll rescue you, and then I’ll covenant with you.”  It’s a message that He still gives to us.

Lent leads us through the fruition of that Rescue Plan.  Birth to Death to Resurrection.  Rescue has come.

As the floodwaters worked to cleanse the world of sin in the time of Noah, so baptism shows that we have been cleansed of sin.  Jesus in His death paid the price for us, and baptism is our way of identifying with that death.  Our way of saying, “I’ll get in the boat and receive the rescue.”  And on the other side, God brings covenant.

Covenant that …

  • He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).
  • He will give us life that is more than sufficient (John 10:10).
  • He will send us a Comforter who will not only comfort us when our hearts are broken, but will endow us with power to bring Kingdom wherever we go (John 14:8).

So many times when reading the Noah story, we picture a flannel graph boat, a few animals, and a Noah with long wavy gray hair.  He floats around for a while, then sends birds out to check on the condition of the world around them.  Finally, after the boat comes to rest on a mountaintop, we get a flannel graph rainbow and a promise.  Yet, when that’s all we see in the story, we miss the bigger element.

God has covenanted with Noah for all future generations.

Then Messiah comes.

Covenant is extended, and we’re all invited into the boat.  We’re all invited to share in the process.  To be a part of the covenant.  We’re invited to hear God say to us, “I promise to do anything it takes at any cost to Me to see you become who I have created you to be.”

And, we respond, by taking the Kingdom to all the world, sometimes only eight people at a time.

Lent 2012: 2.2 — And our Ministry Begins

Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. John baptized him in the Jordan River. Jesus was coming up out of the water. Just then he saw heaven being torn open. He saw the Holy Spirit coming down on him like a dove. A voice spoke to him from heaven. It said, “You are my Son, and I love you. I am very pleased with you.”

At once the Holy Spirit sent Jesus out into the desert. He was in the desert 40 days. There Satan tempted him. The wild animals didn’t harm Jesus. Angels took care of him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee. He preached God’s good news. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Turn away from your sins and believe the good news!” — Mark 1:9-15 (NIRV)

And so begins the ministry of Jesus.

Mark is an interesting Gospel writer. He’s always in a hurry. Moving the story from place to place and event to event as quickly as he can. Almost expressing the eagerness of the early church to get the Gospel spread as far as possible as fast as possible. Mark moves it so quickly that even the temptation of Jesus is not much more than a footnote to the story.

Mark doesn’t take time to tell us about Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, or Wise Men. Instead, he begins with John the Baptist–our wildman friend. Eight short verses to say, “Hey, here’s the guy, John, and he was baptizing people, and then…”

And then…

Jesus.

Yet, not only Jesus, but also the Father and the Spirit. Ten verses into Mark and we’re introduced to the Trinity. Mark establishes Jesus’ humanity and His divinity in one fail swoop. What John the Gospel-Writer takes 14 versus to do, Mark does in not many more than 14 words.

The Spirit descends, and the Father proclaims His pleasure.

And, here we are, two thousand years later at the beginning of our Lenten Journey to the Cross, and we remember our own baptism.

Nathan Kilbourne baptizing Caleb.

Baptism — and so begins our ministry. That outward sign of a inward change, our first testimony. Saying that through Jesus we are aligning ourselves with Him for the work of the Kingdom. Beginning our ministry.

Reflect on your own baptism for a moment. While it is not likely that you saw a Dove or heard a Voice, hopefully you know that the Father is delighted in you as well. Hopefully, you know that Father says, “This is my child, and I am pleased with them. I love them.”

And so began your ministry.