This past weekend, as most of you know, we experienced 114 baptisms in our weekend services. I’ve got to tell you that in 30 years of full-time Christian ministry, I have never been a part of something like this. I have never seen God move in so many people so spontaneously to respond to the call of faith expressed in baptism. Months ago I made the decision to preach about baptism on this particular weekend. But apart from praying diligently, making sure we had extra towels and baptismal “clothes,” and letting people who had gone through our Membership Inquiry process know that I was going to be sharing a message about baptism, we didn’t do anything on our own to create this response. It’s Wednesday morning as I write this blog entry, and I’ve got to tell you I’m still feeling very overwhelmed by what God did. Here are some of my reflections and thoughts from the weekend in no particular order.
After you’ve baptized your first 22 people, don’t change back into your street clothes because there just might be two more people who come. After you’ve baptized your first 24 people, don’t change back into your street clothes because there just might be three more people who come. After you’ve baptized your first 27 people, just wear your wet clothes home because, who knows, you might meet an Ethiopian man in a chariot somewhere along Bluff Road, and you’ll need to be prepared.
While the Bible makes it clear God moves and works in response to our faith, I’m so thankful there are times when God also chooses to move and work in spite of a lack of faith, or, at the very least, uncertain faith. I’ve never been as bold in my call for people to come and be baptized as I was this past weekend. But after the message in each service I changed into my baptismal clothes, came out of Joey Santos’ office and asked someone on staff, “Did anyone come?” I even did that at the 10:45 service when I had already baptized 64 people. Thank You, God, for all the patience You have shown to me over the past 30 years. Help my faith to grow.
As strong as my conviction is about New Testament baptism (all the things I shared with you this past weekend), driving home after the 10:45 service my heart felt a little heavy because I know there were people in each service who do not understand or share that same conviction. And my prayer was that our relationships will still be strong and open, and that, together, we will trust God to guide and direct our lives.
I can’t even imagine what it must have been like on the Day of Pentecost when about 3,000 people accepted the message of Christ and were baptized.
I’m thankful to be the Senior Pastor of Mount Pleasant Christian Church. I’m thankful to lead a staff who is willing to say, “What can I do to help/serve?” I’m thankful to be a part of a Brotherhood of Churches who has a common goal of restoring the biblical pattern of the church for the ultimate purpose of uniting all Christians as one.