There was a teenage girl who is on the autism spectrum who told me how much she loves Jesus and that she wanted to be baptized. Just because of where she happened to be standing, she bravely went first, her parents right there beside her.
There was a 39 year old man who asked me if I was going to carry him around the sanctuary like I did with the babies, smiling at me as I sprinkled water into his thick head of hair. Some of it dripped down onto his long bushy beard.
There was a mother and daughter kneeling side-by-side, their husband/dad standing behind them with tears running down his face as I baptized first his little girl, then his wife. They all held hands during the prayer.
There was a baby boy in a beautiful all white baptism outfit, bright eyes shining, smiling at me when I took him from his mom. The water must have been a little bit cold because when I put it on his head he caught his breath and shivered like babies do.
There was another baby boy who is an actual super hero, living with spinal muscular atrophy and rocking his Easter morning bow tie right alongside the medical equipment he’s connected to. He didn’t care for all the jostling, and frowned at me. (We’re good, though. He smiled at me later.)
There was a fifth grade girl who had asked me not to get her hair bow wet. I tried, but failed. So after I baptized her I whispered, “I’m sorry I think I got your bow wet” and she indignantly replied, “Oh come on!” with a twinkle in her beautiful eyes.
So that was Easter Sunday. Not bad, huh?
Because my call to ministry happened during a baptism (Jessica Sparks, 20 years ago, First Presbyterian Church, Galesburg, Illinois), baptism has always a very meaningful part of what I do as a pastor. But I think Easter Sunday of 2019 will be particularly special, and I will recall it with great joy for years to come. Not just because there were seven baptisms, which is pretty groovy in and of itself. But because of each of the seven unique and miraculous lives that were changed in those moments.
Baptism is the beginning of a new relationship. Easter is the beginning of a new season. In two months will be a beginning of a new chapter of ministry for me. God really is continually doing a new thing, within us and among us and all around us, in every moment and every place, forever and ever. The energy of Easter, the power of Baptism, along with the ongoing grace of Holy Communion: these spiritual realities equip us for every new beginning we face, in every moment of our lives.
Initiated into Christ’s holy church – Incorporated into God’s might acts of salvation – Given new birth through water and the Spirit. And ALL of it is God’s gift, offered to us without price. The thought of it really should blow us away; it is almost too much to perceive!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia, amen.