A Tale of Two Baptisms

A Tale of Two Baptisms
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Before I wander too far in my ramblings, celebrate with me both the Baptisms of my son Samuel Hauser and my (formerly) Muslim friend Dawda.   WhoooooHooooo!!!
 
As Ramadan drew to a close, I found myself mentally preparing for two baptisms.  Many of you have been praying with my teammates and me as we prepare to baptize a young Jula (Muslim) man named Dao (short for Dawda or David).  My teammate who will be officiating the baptism wrote asking if I had any thoughts about the words to be spoken at this occasion.
 
A few days earlier, my oldest son Samuel (9) told me with a shy smile that he wants to be baptized.  As missionaries, we are forced to live a somewhat schizoid life and consequently are looking for constants in the different facets of our lives.  It gets tiring changing your lenses all the time.  So, I decided to intentionally align Sam and Dawda’s passage through the baptismal waters as closely as possible.  
 
I decided to use Biblical stories, rather than verses pulled from their context, to talk to Sam about what it means to follow Jesus—almost exactly in the way I walked Dawda through that decision.  We talked about the first disciples’ decision to follow Christ: what they gave up to follow, what they knew/believed about Jesus at that point, and the blessing/reward they gained by following Christ.  
 
We read through Peter’s good confession and Jesus’ consequent hard words about what it really means to follow him.  We parsed out “Christ” as “King,” including his promises to save the lives of those who lay theirs down for Jesus…but emphasized his Lordship.  We took turns reading Zaccheus’ and Bartimaeus’ stories, trying to put ourselves in their places.  Sam diligently spent time meditating on these passages and the costs and the joys of following Jesus as one’s King.  
 
We read and memorized Acts 2:38 basking in our King’s good gifts: forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit living in us.  We spent a healthy amount of time talking about repentance (what it means) and walking through repentance (both of us confessing sins and sinful attitudes that need to be turned away from).  Let’s face it: there’s plenty of evil in the world, and it has an uncanny ability to get into our hearts.
 
We talked about the new community of the King.  How Jesus replaces what we’ve had to leave behind a hundred times over with a new family in Christ (and suffering with it).  A family that is much bigger and often truer than our biological families (though we are blessed that so much of our family is also a part of this new family in Christ).
 
In fact, my time on the mission field has prompted me to go back to older, more extensive litanies (worship words) to be spoken at baptism.  We tend to stop at: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…and do you accept Him as Lord and Savior?” followed by “I now baptize you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Below are a few traditional emphases that we wanted to reclaim in preparation for both Sam’s and Dawda’s baptisms.
 

God-parents and other members of the Christian community committing to helping the new believer grow in Christ.  Below are the traditional questions asked of parents and God-parents at a child’s baptism in the Anglican Church.  I’d love to hear questions similar to these posed to the community as new believers are baptized in our churches:

Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present
is brought up in the Christian faith and life?
Parents and Godparents : I will, with God’s help.
Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow
into the full stature of Christ?
Parents and Godparents : I will, with God’s help.

 

In my decade in Africa, I’ve become convinced of the value of formally asking the baptismal candidate to renounce all spiritual allegiance other than Christ.  I guess it only takes one person coming up from baptism screaming under demonic oppression to come to that conclusion.  Time after time, we’ve seen people try to hold on to a little spiritual security on the side—amulets, rings for protection, “harmless” sacrifices to ancestors.  Time after time, we’ve seen people hold on to sin and sinful attitudes, especially those that aren’t taboo in that culture.  At least we’d never do that in ‘Merica (read sarcasm).  We need to renounce and turn away from the evil “trinity” of the devil, the world and sinful desires in order to turn toward and follow God in Christ.  I like the stark line in the sand drawn by the old confessions:

Question :    Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:    Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:     Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you
from the love of God?
Answer :  I renounce them.
 
I thank you for being a part of Dawda’s and Samuel’s communities, and ask you to commit to helping them grow up into Christ (recognizing geographical limitations) by prayer and witness.
 
Let’s remember and celebrate our own baptisms–the joy of that new life, forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit living in us.
 
Join me in re-stating our confession:  “I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  I accept him as my saviour and bow to him as my King.”
 
Join me in renouncing:  “I renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God.  I renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.  I also renounce all sinful desires that draw me from the love of God.”
 
The Peace of Christ to you all,
 
Brian

 

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About freethestory

A Windchaser. Trying to live out my little part of the Big story.
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