Our church meets in two different locations over five services on Saturday and Sunday. Each gathering holds close to 1,000 adults plus a plethora of kids in the children’s programs. Yesterday we came together as one body of followers of Jesus in one ginormous gathering. We had to rent out the Hillsboro Stadium to fit us all in one place and the event was appropriately named ONE.
We gathered at 3:30 p.m. to play and play hard. There was a skate park, slip and slide, swimming pools, bouncy houses and relay games for the kids. At 4:30 p.m., we started to eat because no get-together is complete without food. There was a massive BBQ with all the fixings.
At 6 p.m. we gathered to worship together. Thousands of Jesus followers packed the stands that were blissfully shaded from the scorching sun. A beautiful breeze drifted back and forth across the field as we sang and worshipped God.
Our pastor took the passage from John 7 where Jesus claims to be Living Water and broke it down explaining what Jesus meant when He made such a bold statement. He even used audience members to re-enact a part of the Festival of the Tabernacles. Once we knew the historical and cultural background, the passage came alive.
At the end of the gathering two swimming pools were opened for people who wanted to be baptized. Curt and I had the privilege of praying with people who wanted to follow Jesus’ example by proclaiming their faith in Him through baptism.
It was such a blessing to see the passion these people had for Jesus. Urban, hip college-age boys crying crocodile tears of gratitude, cute teenage girls in their adorable outfits dripping wet, makeup smeared, older men breaking down over strongholds that have been broken as a result of following Jesus. My friend Britta was watching our kids so we could be a part of this and at one point they rushed the field. “We want to get baptized too. Can we get baptized?” We said no because we wanted to talk with them first to make sure they understood and to do it under less chaotic circumstances.
This morning I asked them what baptism meant to them and was so touched by the elements of truth and wonder woven through their answers. Grant (9 years) said, “Water is the only thing that makes you clean. When you get baptized, you immerse yourself in the Living Water to become clean.” Katie (8 years) said, “It’s a way to worship Jesus by telling Him you love Him.” Alli (6 years) said, “You get bathtized to tell everyone who’s watching that you love Jesus and He’s in your howt. And Miss Britta cried when Crosby and Lucy got bathtized. Will you cry too Mom?” Paige (4 years) didn’t have any profound thoughts on baptism but made it clear that “when I’m old enough, I want to invite Oliver to come and watch.”
I clarified with them that baptism is not required for salvation, but is an outward expression of an internal decision they already made to have Jesus forgive their sins and be the leader of their lives. It tells the world that you love Jesus and you’re serious enough about it to get wet. We talked about how poetic Grant’s answer was, how beautiful Katie’s picture of worship was, and how cute and true Alli’s answer was.
They still want to get baptized, like tomorrow. As my friend pointed out, once you realize you want something it often bears more significance if you have to wait for awhile to obtain it, so we’re taking some time to pray about when they should do that and who they should invite to celebrate with them.
How about you? Have you “immersed yourself in the Living Water?”