Baptism – what is is all about?
A fathers perspective.
Hello, my name is David, I am married to Helen (for 21 years now) with two children, Nat (aged 16) and Sam (aged 14) and we, as a family have been attending Sutton Elms Baptist church for just a little over twelve years now.
So, I suppose, in a Baptist church, people get baptised all the time, right? Well, not really.
And, don’t kids get baptised when they are little? Again, well, not really. You see, we are Christians who are meeting with other Christians, those who follow Jesus, in a Baptist church. Funnily enough, I was baptized in another Baptist church, up in Scotland, Inverkeithing to be exact, but I met the living Lord Jesus while attending a Church of England fellowship, while living down near Reading. Complicated, eh? Still with me? I hope so.
See, my father-in-law Terry and I shared a pretty serious chat one day. I was seeing his daughter, but had no faith. And Terry loved me enough to want me to live in Jesus house for ever, whether I joined Terry’s family on earth, or not. I was told how to get into Heaven. WOW.
Then Helen and I got married, moved to Scotland, had two children, and when Sam was four weeks old, Nat got sick, and we spent a couple of nights in hospital. A good friend said we needed to give the children back to God – seems strange to say, and I am happy to explain this another day – anyway, we did , and we moved down to Leicester (via Wythenshawe, near Manchester) always following what God was saying to us adults. Anyway, the children were brought along to church, sat in Children’s Church, a sort of modern Sunday School, however this one is called SMASH club – Sunday Mornings are Special Here)
And over the years we have seen a few folk, some who we have known well, others who we haven’t known at all, “go through the waters of baptism”. I should explain now, I think, that we had both children dedicated to God, in church, asking the church family to help us, and guide us through the trials of bringing up children. We struggled with our consciences when Sam wanted to play Rugby on a Sunday morning, BUT, he actually chose to come on a certain Sunday, once per month, to hear the childrens’ talk, and craft activities, from our then minister, Andrew.
So, one evening during my quiet time with Natasha, she surprised me by asking about baptism “What do I need to do to get one, Dad?” she expectantly asked. I said she needed to be obedient, prepared to say why she felt called to be baptised, and then to be invited – usually those preparing for baptism are given some guidance by elders within a church so they are aware of all that lies ahead. Oh, and I remembered to say to Nat that she should pack a towel and change of clothes., “just in case”
Sutton does practice full immersion baptisms, just in case you were wondering.
Anyway, Sunday 27th dawned, Nat and Sam cycled to church, the service was ably led by our current leader, a guy called John Hall. The main purpose of this service was to baptise Mark and Tim, Mark has been attending the church for a couple of years, and Tim, an elder guy, was there when we joined. Tim has always asked about how our two are doing, what they are up to, really showing an interest in their “whole person” development. Mark has two children, and kids play as kids do.
Anyway, John Hall, having performed two baptisms, asked the audience if anyone else was feeling called to be obedient… (silence) – we had the evening before been shown “a pin drop” and the sound it made onto some plastic was actually amazingly loud, imagine a church full of people, and NOT A SOUND COULD BE HEARD. . . . Just before the last song, (yes, we still sing songs in church, but usually the band has a base guitar, drums and attitude, not the drab old organ music I can remember from years gone by!)
Anyway, I popped out to check whether Nat wanted to “be obedient” and she said she would, so I had to tell John “Yes, there is another one, please”, so he passed on this news to the crowd (usually called a congregation, or gathering, but I still see them as brothers and sisters, maybe some friends I have yet to meet, and all precious in Gods sight!)
I saw the teenagers group leader looking around church while preparations were made, and children gathered around the waters edge for “one last time”. I asked if I could assist “dunking” Nat, and was told “yes”, so I too made ready. Then, I was asked if I would help with one more, “Yes,” I said without hesitation, only to then ask, “who else is going?” – Well, I was totally unprepared to learn it was Sam, my son.
Before going into the water, it is traditional to share a bit of what God has done in your life. Now, I knew Nat had been thinking about this before hand, but I had no idea Sam also had. Strange isn’t it, you THINK you know someone?
So, my children stood in front of our brothers and sisters, folk who had seen them from age two and four, grow into steady teenagers, no great “burning bush” moments, but slow steady uptake of Gods word, seeped into their very beings, hearing mum and dad, friends praying, and them joining in as and when they felt called, and able to do so.
I suppose, what I commend to you, dear reader, is a sense of God is always there with you, and for you. He loves hearing from us, and really wants to be with us, included in all things, at all times. He loves us, and wants only the best for us.
Now I know some of our good friends were missing from this important stage in my childrens development, or Christian journey, some folk who would have dearly wanted to be present, but were not able. The spontaneity shown by these two youngsters was in bright contrast with the men who preceded them, with solid preparation, inviting family, friends and colleagues to witness what to many Christians is a very deep and personal experience.
John Hall and I stood aside each child, supporting them, and allowed each, in turn, to be lowered backwards into the water (not so warm, but bearable!), fully immersing them, before lifting them, triumphantly up out of the water, symbolically washing away their sins, publically declaring their love for Our Lord, and promising to follow Him.
Wow what a day, what a privilege – usually it is the minister, and a deacon, or other senior church “official” who assists. I am so thankful to the church deacons ,and Chris in particular for letting me assist – I have tears of gratitude running down my cheeks even now, ten days or so later, at the memory of what happened.
I am so thankful that my children have listened, have been loved enough by us to know of the Unconditional Love of our Heavenly Father, that they were obedient in front of our church family. I really hope that YOU might want to come and find out more, more about our church, our Heavenly Father, and what makes us want to keep coming back for more. More what? Well, I cannot say, other than, here is an open invite to “come and find out for yourself” Bring this, and ask for David! (laughs, there are LOADS of Davids in this family!) One of them will help you, it might even be me!
This was the mornignt service on 27th September 2015.