Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Journey to Jesus: Easter Sunday Baptism!

(If you're just joining this series, it begins here.)

I know it's already been a few weeks since Easter Sunday... but since Easter continues all the way until Pentecost, I'm still within the time frame. 

As kids who are on their way to baptism, I stress to their parents how important it is for the kids to be able to participate in everything that leads up to their baptism on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday
Passover Seder
Easter Sunday at Life on the Vine is a big deal. Really. It's the culmination of a whole week, starting with Palm Sunday and gathering around the communion table and shouting "Hosanna!" while waving palm branches. 
Throughout the week, our missional orders (house groups) come together to share a Messianic Passover Seder together. It's at this meal that our understanding of our every Sunday practice of sharing the Lord's Table is infused by the context in which Christ spoke the words of institution before His betrayal. We use this Haggadah as we eat and drink together and remember the Passover.

For Good Friday, we gather together for a Tenebrae service. As we leave in silence, the question hangs in the air, "What will become of the Light of the World?" We live life for the weekend as if Christ had just died and the story ended there.

We don't see each other again until we gather around the fire pit on Easter morning, to celebrate that Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
Every candle lit

We enter the sanctuary, lighting every candle in the place and dive into our rehearsal of the grand narrative of scripture. 

We celebrate Creation with an artist creating on a canvas as she tells the story! We tell the story of Noah and the flood, the Exodus, the Valley of the Dry Bones, and look forward to the prophecy of Isaiah. 

Only after we've told the story of God and His people do we invite the kids who will be baptized to find their place in the continuation of the formation of the people of God. Now they can see where they fit as newly baptized believers. Now it is time for them to make their vows and take their place in the every-expanding communion of the saints.

Each baptismon first reads his / her conversion statement.
Then they step into the baptismal pool, facing the west and they are asked these questions:
Do you confess you are a sinner in need of reconciliation with God?  (I do)
Do you believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin?  (I do)
Do you renounce Satan and all spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?  (I do)
Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?  (I do)
Do you renounce of all sinful desires that draw you away from the love of God?  (I do)  

After answering these questions, they turn to the east (toward the rising sun) and they make these commitments:
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?  (I do)
Do you put your whole trust in His grace and love? (I do)
Do you promise to follow and obey Him as your Lord?  (I do)

Then they are baptized (to the sounds of hooting, hollering, and thunderous applause).

When they emerge from the pool, they are robed in a white robe and told, "You are now clothed in the righteousness of Christ."

They are annointed with oil and told, "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

And then they sign their name in the membership book, which we say is the symbol of their name being written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

After their baptisms, we come to the Lord's table together and the kids savor their first taste of Christ's body and blood as newly invited members of Christ's local body. 

We unpack much more of the significance of this meal in the week following their baptism.

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