August 7, 2014

Take Me to the Water

We've been at a new church for a year and a half now, but we haven't become members yet because I haven't been dunked. I was baptized as an infant and even though I think infant baptism doesn't make a whole lot of sense (since an infant can't make a life-decision like that), I've rolled with the fact that that's how it happened to me and I haven't gotten re-baptized.

But now I'd like to become a member at Immanuel Community Church (kitty corner from City Park across Mulberry) and that means it's dunking time (seeing as they're a Southern Baptist congregation). I figure that since it has to be done if I'm going to become a member, I might as well make a bit of an event of it and invite all my friends to come watch.

So this Sunday, after the church service, we're going to be heading over to the Poudre river (near the Hickory Spur bridge) and Pastor Brad is going to baptize both Nathan and myself. (It'll be Nathan's first time getting baptized. So that's kinda the bigger deal.)

You don't have to be a Christian to come appreciate the event. Baptism has been around since before the time of Christ. As a history blogger, I value not only the spiritual meaning of the ritual but also the cultural and historic significance behind it.

Jews had a purification ritual that involved being dunked in water, which is why even before Jesus began his ministry, John was out baptizing people. He called them to repentance and performed the ritual as a sign of their commitment to that repentance.

In Christianity, baptism is a public act. (Which makes sense since early Christians didn't have baptismal founts in their worship buildings. They would go to a river or lake where anyone could see them.) It is therefore a statement to the community that a person has chosen to follow the Christ Jesus. I will be affirming a decision I made long ago when I get baptized on Sunday.

Baptism is also a symbolic act. Christianity embodies a belief that a man named Jesus was fully human and fully deity and that he walked physically on this earth. He was killed on a Roman cross, remained dead for several days, and then bodily/physically was resurrected and walked the earth again. As a Christian, the Bible says we died with Christ and we will be raised with him. Baptism symbolizes that death (going into the water) and rebirth (coming back out). It also symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through the blood sacrifice of Jesus.

Whether you agree with any of these things or not, I'd still appreciate being surrounded by my friends on Sunday and would love for you to be there. I'm thinking that we'll start off by singing Amazing Grace near the north side of the bridge. It's a song that most people know (or have at least heard on several occasions). It's fitting for the occasion. It has historical and cultural significance as well as spiritual significance, so you may appreciate singing the song even if you're not a Christian. And it'll also give people time to arrive. Then we'll walk down to a spot in the river that's not already full of people. (And if we can't find a spot like that, then we'll just ask people to pardon us for a short time while Nathan and I are baptized.) I'll bring some grain-free peanut butter cookies, and if you want to bring some munchies to share, you're welcome to, and we can hang out for a bit afterwards.

I'm not envisioning this being a long thing. If you want to ask questions about it all afterwards, I'd be happy to chat about it. (OK, the truth of the matter is that Rob would probably be way more into talking about it than I would. I'm more of a writer than a talker. But hey, I'll be there. I can chat.) If you don't want to talk about baptism we can just hang. And that'll be it. Short and sweet.

So here's the details:

Sunday, August 10th, near the Hickory Spur bridge. (See map below.) There's parking at Martinez park, Legacy park, or even up at the Salyer Natural Area off Hemlock. It's an easy walk from any of those locations. Or bike on over. (That's what we'll probably do.)

Feel free to bring a swim suit and an inner tube if you want. Church services usually end just before noon. So we're aiming to have the baptism at 12:30. Maybe aim for 12:20 just to be sure you get there in time.