Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:16–20)
This past Sunday met outside as part of Creekside’s Baptism Celebration at Tolt McDonald Park. It was a wonderful day as 8 young people were baptized and another affirmed their baptism in the chilly river waters. Each shared a bit of their story and then made promises before God and the people of Creekside.
In some ways the promises that they made are impossible for them to keep. But that is the definition of grace, the beauty of the sacrament of baptism. Each of us when we begin to follow Jesus and are immersed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit promise to turn our back on a way of living that is away from God and to live in a way that is with God. These promises are important but impossible. “Will I never make a decision that is rooted in me and my fears or disordered desires?” “Will all of my thoughts, decisions and actions be rooted fully in who I am in Christ instead of flowing from the broken patterns that are deep within me?” I do not have the power in myself to be so in tune with God that I walk naturally in him and experience life fully through him. But he does. God has the power. It was not just the 9 kids who were making promises, God was promising too.
God works, God empowers, God provides. Yet in this provision we are not passive spectators. We join into that amazing God soaked reality, entering into the work of God to live the immersed and renamed people of God. We remember our promises and reality that God promises with us. We get up every day and say, in the words of Martin Luther, “I am a baptized person, and today I will live out my baptism.”
The baptized and affirmed promise. God promises. And so do the people of God — Christianity is not to be attempted alone. As 9 young people stood before them waiting to be baptized, the gathered people were asked to make a hugely important promise, “people of God, will you as members of the Church of Jesus Christ do your part, by word and deed, with love and prayer, to guide and nurture each of these, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and caring for them as Christ’s own? A promise too big, too weighty if really thought out. How powerful to each of those baptized to look out and hear the loud response, “with God’s help we will.”