Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer's for Baptizing by J. Grant Swank Jr. Pastor

Chilly! Yep. Maine's lakes take their good ol' time getting warm in summer. Wade in and size-up gingerly the environs. Looks comfy from the shoreline, but is as cool as you get under the water.

But we were not into diving that Sunday. We were into going old-fashioned for a baptism in the lake.

"Baptized in water, Sealed by the Spirit,
Cleansed by the blood of Christ, our King;
Heirs of salvation, Trusting the promise,
Faithfully now God's praises we sing."
So Michael A. Saward wrote it in 1981 and so we sang it in summer.
Mike had wanted to be baptized. So with the lake handy and summer hanging over our heads, the place and time called for the blessing.

Evening hours had just begun. We welcomed them with several hymns, Scriptures and prayers. Then there was a brief exhortation regarding the seriousness of baptism. In the early church, believers risked their lives for that sacrament. Or they would be shut out of their homes for the new Jesus religion. In other times, devotees could be burnt at the stake, fed to lions or scalded alive in caldrons.

I recall when a youngster joining others at the river for "The Baptism," were lined up with the pastor waiting in the water. Hymns were sung extemporaneously. Testimonies were shared. It was a jolly good time of it in the Lord.

Standing alongside the Jordan River I witnessed several submitting to those historic waves, biblical pictures flashing across my mind. At that particular scene, there was a hushed awe that overcame us. After all, we had traveled far for that event.

So when walking into Lake Sebago with Mike that summer, I reminded him that the blessing was up to God.
 With that, heaven smiled upon the scene.
"Come, Holy Spirit, Dove divine,
On these baptismal waters shine,
And teach our hearts, in highest strain,
To praise the Lamb for sinners slain."
Thank you, Adoniram Judson, of 1832 script.

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