I think we all - in our various tribes and churches - have our own ways of not forgetting (see yesterday's post). It's the little reminders we sprinkle throughout our services that are meant to help us bring to the forefront of our minds these key pieces of our spiritual journeys or the incredible grace of God. Usually, it's Communion, of course. But it doesn't have to be.
For us, in my tribe, I think one of those things is baptism.
Baptism is, except by insistent request, a public event in my church. This is meant to do two things. First, it's meant to be an encouragement to the baptisee. There's nothing like coming up out of that water, feeling a thousand pounds lighter, and hearing your new family applaud your faithful decision. That sound of all these people - some of which you know, some of which you don't - standing behind you, rallying behind you, affirming you...it's amazing.
But second, and I think this one is easy to miss, the act of witnessing a baptism is supposed to bring us back to our own. It's supposed to help us to not forget what it was like when we went into that water. When we rose again. When all those people clapped for us. When we felt that weight lifted off our spirits. When we gave our life to Jesus Christ in that most powerful spiritual moment.
This...this is where I tend to struggle a bit, and perhaps it is a reflection on my own baptismal process more than anything universal, but I think there's some truth in this that might speak to you, too.
I struggle because sometimes, it feels like the whole spiritual journey, if you're not careful, can be all downhill from this mountaintop experience. It's very rare to find a Christian with as much fervor, as much fire, as much confident assurance as the one who dares step into the baptismal waters. In that moment, we're ready. We're giving it all to Him. We're turning our life around. We're doing this thing. For real.
As time goes by, we're giving some of it to Him. A little bit here and there, really. We're turning our life around and around and around, but not taking many steps forward any more. All that excitement we had about stepping into something new? It's gone. Somewhere along the way, we stopped taking many steps at all. Everything has just sort of...stagnated.
I'm not saying the Christian life is without its moments. Maybe it's just that the moments change as we grow and mature in our faith. I don't know. There are times when the presence of God is so strong in my life that I can't imagine trying to live without Him. There are other times, honestly, it's really not.
When I watch a baptism, I have to admit - sometimes, I'm sitting there wondering if I would do it all again. Knowing then what I know now, feeling the way then that I do now, all that fire mostly smoldering out and settling into a quiet, but still confident, faith...would I step into those waters? Would I make that confession? Would I say now, in what has become so routine a part of my life, boldly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That He lived, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of my sins?
It's not easy to think about, but it's important. It's part of this anamnesis, this not forgetting. And I don't forget. I don't forget what the evening of July 15, 2000 was like for me. I don't forget what it feels like to step into those waters. And to step out of them. I just wonder...in all my not forgetting...about the ways my faith has changed over the past 15 years and what it would be like to do it all over again today?
What about you? Would you do it again? If it came to it right now, would you give your life to Jesus all over?