Every once in a while, you’re reminded of the joyfulness that saturates the Christian faith. Yesterday was such a day for our congregation.
A man who had been invited by another congregation member has been attending for some time now. He has listened to the messages, engaged in conversation, and has been experiencing a genuine joy in it all. He also eventually began bringing his young daughter with him. Yesterday he committed his life to Jesus through baptism. That in itself was a joyous moment. However, he wanted to express his joy in a way that really brought out the celebratory flavors of being born again.
In the weeks leading up to his baptism, he invited twenty friends and family members to attend; around fifteen came, one of whom even flew in from Canada to support him. After he had made his good confession, was immersed, and then commissioned to servanthood, he provided lunch for the entire congregation and guests. We all sat around eating like long lost friends.
When Jesus delivered a trio of stories to the scribes and Pharisees in Luke 15 about how we should view those returning to God, three times he emphasized joy and celebration. In one clarifying comment, Jesus said “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Baptisms are a moment of joyful wonder for congregations. By sharing in the joy of the one coming to Christ, we infuse joy into the whole congregation, learning anew the joy of knowing Jesus. By celebrating with the one, we kindle afresh the candle Christ alights in us. And in that light we see what put Christ in pursuit of that one in the first place—a beloved value that drives God’s pursuit of us all.