The Day or The Way?

Written by Joel on February 15th, 2012

Last year we baptized two young people at a church member’s farm. In the creek, full immersion, on Pentecost! All the right pieces just fell in place last year. The farmers were having a family reunion anyways and said “sure use the place.” Pentecost happened to be the second Sunday of June last year which made the water not so cold. And, not to mention, we had two young people to baptise! It was a blessed event fresh in everyone’s mind.

Wouldn’t you know two more folks want to get baptized this year! They are new to the church, they saw the pictures from last year’s baptism and and sorta just assumed thats the way its done around here. Well, Pentecost is May 27 this year and the farm is not available that day. This dilemma causes me to pause and reflect: Is it more important to baptize on a significant day like Pentecost, or is it more important to baptize in a significant way like full immersion at the creek with a big party? This year it would seem that either one can happen, but we can’t have both.

The Day. It is certainly possible to baptize on Pentecost at the church. Our church has a very small baptistry font; I’d be surprised if it held more than a quart of water.  Now, I don’t believe that there is any deficiency in using the small font. Pouring and sprinkling still work for baptisms. But human beings are visual and tactile creatures, and I do believe that the meaning of baptism is more easily declared with more water, much more water. My (Disciples of Christ) roots are showing here. Besides, these are adults we are baptizing and the practical matter of “how do I dunk this baby without drowning it?” is not an issue in this case.

The Way. It is certainly possible to baptize the same way we did last year: Full immersion at the member’s farm. But it would be the second Sunday after Pentecost. Now, I do not believe there is any deficiency in being baptized on a “normal Sunday.” Baptism spans all seasons. But, human beings exist in time and space and I do believe it is easier to see our place in the larger story when something like a personal baptism happens on a date significant for the universal church that extends beyond the gathered community on May 27 this year. Not to mention it will be easier to remember that baptism anniversary as “Pentecost” instead of June 10 (or was it the 17th?…).

The Way & The Day. We could also find an alternate location, but this of course would be outside of the Sunday morning gathered worship community (unless everyone does indeed decide to go to this off-site baptism). We could have a full immersion Pentecost baptism. But I don’t think we could have it all: we risk losing the connection with the local church that these folks are joining. The farm has deep (very deep) roots to the story of how County Line Church came to be, and everyone goes to the farmer’s reunion on the second Sunday of June – the church will definitely be there. I’m not so sure that the church would venture out for an extra service in May- to a disconnected location, and for “outsiders” of the church. Is that pessimistic, or realistic?

No matter how it happens or when it happens the Body of Christ is getting bigger, praise God for that!

What do you think is more important in this situation? The way or the day?


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