On this Sunday, we celebrated the 125th anniversary of First Mennonite Church. (November 27, 1897-2022)
We also welcomed to new members after their baptism and we all renewed our baptismal vows to the Lord.
We celebrated the Lord’s Supper and after the service we had a meal together.
The following is the brief biblical reflection we had with respect of Baptism.
First Mennonite Church
November 27, 2022
Brief Reflection on Baptism
Baptism has often been described as the “outer expression of an internal reality.” This popular definition of baptism in other words means that the only visible difference between someone baptized and someone who is not, is that the baptized person was immersed or sprinkled with water and the other one has not. Real change is only internal; everything remains the same.
Well, that is not what Paul says about baptism. Paul asks a rhetorical question: Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Baptism is the symbol of dying into Christ, which means, we identify or solidarize with Jesus in his death. But just as he rose from the dead, we too are risen with him to live a new life.
Baptism, therefore, is not only an outer expression of an internal reality, nor is it the arbitrary ritual to admit new members into the Christian community. Baptism is the inaugural act in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that the person is embarking a new life journey in Christ Jesus. We get baptized as an act of obedience to the command Jesus gave his disciples regarding those who will accept and believe in his name. Baptism is being raised into Christ for a new life. And life is never hidden, invisible, nor stagnant. Newness of life in Christ reveals the glorious transformation God has and continues to operate in the new believer.
Paul spoke about another visible evidence baptism
In Galatians 3:26-28, Paul writes: So, in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
First is that through baptism we clothe ourselves with Christ. Christ becomes like something we wear. We are dressed up with Christ. And the effect of being clothed with Christ is that all ethnic and social distinctive markers are abolished, even gender role distinctions lose their power to rule. The rich and the poor in Paul’s church worshiped together. Slave and master ate the Lord’s Supper together. Men and women shared in ministry without distinction.
Baptism makes us all stand on level grounds in Christ. Social stratification has no place among the family of God. We are simply brothers and sister in Christ. Jesus alone is Lord and we all are his friends and children.
In the early days of the Anabaptist movement, the group referred to each other simply as “brothers and sisters.” They rejected all kinds of titles, distinctive social markers, which is what Paul says baptism does in the community of believers.
Also, because the Anabaptist Movement was outlawed by the state and the official religion and because the movement was formed during winter, baptism by immersion was not an option. Believers were baptized by sprinkling. The form of baptism was not of great importance as was the meaning and commitment to Christ and the fellowship that followed after baptism. Many Anabaptists were burned at stake. Many died in prison. Many were dispossessed and sent into exile. Many were downed as a way to mock them for being rebaptized. The Anabaptists suffered persecution because of their commitment to live according to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Today, Caitlin and Lisa will be baptized. Today, our two sisters will submit their lives to the lordship of Christ, in company of this fellowship. So, I want to invited them to come forward.
Renewing Baptismal Vows Ceremony
Many of us were baptized long ago. I was baptized on February 8, 1981. On the day that we were baptized, we pledged to serve and love the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily lives. We committed ourselves to give and to receive counsel from the community of believers that received us into the fold.
Today, I want to invite you to renew the vows you made both to the Lord and to the fellowship, by coming forward and in the spirit of recommitment to the Lord and in solidarity with our two sisters who were baptized today, to either you dip your finger in the water and touch your forehead or allow me to do it for you. So, please come.
Words of Affirmation:
“As Christ was raised from the death to the glory of God, so you, (Name of Person,) have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life!”