Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots
This past Sunday one of the texts was from Acts 16, the story of Lydia of Thyatira who sold purple cloth and presumably founded the church in Macedonia. In the passage we learn that Lydia was baptized along with her entire household. This baptism of a whole household has always struck me as wonderful because it is intergenerational, familial, and communal. In my experience in the U.S. I think I have only ever witnessed the baptism of three or fewer people (babies) in one service. And until this weekend I had never enacted the sacrament of baptism itself.
As Lydia taught me, though, God can open our hearts and reveal God’s self when we don’t expect it. Somehow God prepares us for it. Paul, Silas, and Timothy went to Macedonia on a whim from a vision in a dream, which was completely unplanned. Lydia was leading a gathering of women outside the walls of Philippi only to be interrupted by these three. On a whim she hosted them at her home, which became their place of refuge and the launching point for the church. She was prepared without notice and maybe even without knowing.
Last Thursday a colleague within the MEF campus invited me to preach at his church on Sunday. I was initially reluctant because I already had a busy weekend planned, but I remembered my goal from way back at the beginning of this fellowship to say YES as much as possible when it came to my ministry here in Zambia. And so YES it was.
I can say that I honestly hadn’t done much preparation for my sermon that day, and I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be baptisms and Communion. Yet, God was revealing God’s self. I learned as I arrived that over twenty people would be baptized and that we would be presiding over the Lord’s Supper. There were actually close to thirty ready to go through the waters. They formed a line, and the host pastor and I started at each end and met in the middle. I baptized five adults and ten babies. I only messed up the formula once (the very first time no less…don’t worry, though, our God is gracious!) Only one baby screamed. Several smiled.
This beautiful first time presiding over the sacrament of baptism was completely unexpected, and I felt completely unprepared. As came up in the sermon, though, God labors with us! It was intergenerational. It was familial. It was communal.