Today we celebrated Herby’s baptism. He came to me last week to let me know that he wanted to be baptised. Throughout the week we talked about the significance of baptism–both what it means and what it doesn’t mean. I was reminded of the day Herby came to live with us. He came to the gate because he was on the streets of Jimani and didn’t have anywhere to stay. When he met with us he said in his broken English, “I want to tell the childrens about the Jesus and the lakes of fire.” Over the past two and a half years I have seen his faith grow from this fear based end-of-times decision to avoid eternal punishment into an understanding of the profound love that God has for us and the great plans he has for us not just in eternity, but in our daily lives here and now.
Adolescence is tough. Herby wants to be cool and accepted by his friends, and many people don’t understand a decision to serve God. Herby is a gifted musician who loves to write songs and sing. He actually had a dream that helped guide him to make the decision to be baptized now. The basic premise was whether or not he was going to use his gift of music for his own gain or to praise and worship to Lord. In his dream he proclaimed that he will only worship God. I think this dream helped him define the internal struggle we all face with our selfish ambitions versus a selfless life in service to God.
Our family celebrated his baptism at our chapel. We started with a discussion of the why, when and how of baptism. Our kids come to us from a variety of backgrounds and have heard various and conflicting ideas on baptism. Our teaching is that baptism is the outward proclamacion of an internal decision. This decision includes belief that our sins (faults and shortcomings) are forgiven by the death of Christ on the cross, and his resurrection is proof that he has conquered sin and death and our promise of our future resurrection with him. We read Romans 6 which is summarized well in verse 4:
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
To further the symbolism of the newness of life and his membership into the Church, Herby was met as he left the baptismal by his brothers and sisters in Christ, the other members of our family that have previously followed the example and command of Christ to be baptized. Together we prayed that we would encourage one another, support one another, and if necessary correct one another as we are all on this journey together.
I love these examples and liturgy that God has given us, these glimpses into who he is and the depth of his love. I was brought to tears several times as I was reminded of God’s abundant love for us. It has been a privilege to be a part of Herby’s growth, and I am excited to see what God has in store.
Kimberly ended our service with the perfect song, one that she found, but then adapted and added some of her own words, “The Happy Song”. A summary of the song is
I am happy he set me free,
I am happy he died for me,
I am happy he rose again.
Thank you for you love and grace
I’ll take Kimberly’s happy over Pharrel Williams’ any day!