Why I Cried in Church Today

baptism water

I cried in church today. And I’m OK with that.

It happens every time there’s a baptism service. Of course, part of the reason the tears start to fall is because I’m reminded in a very powerful way about how deep and wide God’s love is for me. And then I remember two of the most amazing moments of my life: baptizing Aiden and then baptizing Aly a year later. Then I think of how I hope and pray that Mihret will choose to be baptized one day, which makes the tears flow even more freely.

baptism water

And then I think of other people I’ve had the honor of baptizing. People like David, Ginny, Peter, Jerry, Tom, and Jim.

This inevitably leads me to thinking about the people who had such an impact on my own story while I was growing up. Now, some may argue that I haven’t grown up. They’d probably be right. But that’s not the point. I’m talking about people who stepped in and made a difference in my life during my formative years.

I grew up in a God-fearing home. Some of my earliest memories revolve around church and being scared of the Preacher’s Wife because I thought she was mean to me when I had to sit by her during Sunday evening service. How dare she expect me to sit still and be quiet while the service was going on? Even with that legacy of faith that my parents established for me, I still had to take this faith I had inherited and make it my own story. I came to that realization because of people who surrounded me and encouraged me to make that faith my own.

So while I witnessed the baptisms today, I couldn’t help but think of the people outside my family that God has used in ways they can’t even imagine.

Cheryl Stroud led some pretty amazing children’s choirs and challenged me to be more than I thought I could be.

Todd Bussey baptized me, married me, and ordained me. I think you could say he’s a pretty special guy.

Dr. Gerhart (we always referred to him as “Mr. G.” in Scouting circles) has always encouraged me and challenged me to continue to work at becoming a better man as a leader and as a disciple. He has been a shining example for me, reminding me that scholarship and faith are not mutually exclusive. He also taught me how to worship God when surrounded by His creation.

Scott and Corri Brooks were like second parents to me during high school. A small group of us met in their house every Wednesday for the better part of four years. Their shared desire to follow Jesus at home and in the workplace couldn’t help but rub off on me.

There are other faces that show up in my mind’s eye, too. People like the Teskes, Nova Conner, Judy Taylor, Jack Arney, the Hedwalls, Jack Bruce, the Gowers, the Linges, Pam Jordan, the list can go on and on…

cloud of witnessesI guess you could say they are my own personal cloud of witnesses. God used them to shape my faith. God used them to shape my story. So I thanked God for them again today. I prayed for them again.

And yeah, I cried for them, too.

Who has had an impact on your faith? Who is in your cloud of witnesses?

baptism water

An answer to prayer

Christy and I have been praying for this day since before he was born. As mentioned earlier, I had the honor of baptizing my son this past Sunday, February 15.

I’m still trying to articulate my thoughts about this experience. And I’ll post those thoughts as soon as I can put them into words.

It was definitely one of the most amazing days of my life.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2118222&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Aiden Baptism :: 034-1.flv video by m…“, posted with vodpod

That’s Caedmon talking about Aiden in the background. He was sitting by Alyson, who took this video. After the service, Alyson asked when she could get “bathtized.” Of course, she asked if she could do it this coming Sunday. I think we’ll encourage her to wait a bit.

Baptism Liturgy (revisited)

Here’s my first draft of the Order of Service I wrote. I had to speed it up because I thought it was due this past Monday, when it’s really due next Monday. This gives me an opportunity to rewrite some stuff and elaborate more. 

Thanks for all of your help! 

The congregation assembles on the bank of a body of water (i.e. Doe River, Buffalo Creek, Lake Watauga, etc.) if a natural body of water is unavailable, an indoor pool is acceptable. 

Leader:
The Lord be with you. 
All: And with your spirit 
Leader: Lift up your hearts. 
All: We lift them to the Lord. 
Leader: Let us pray. 

Our Father, source of grace and mercy, we gather today at the watery grave of baptism to celebrate the new life that You alone can give. Thank You for Your grace which was so powerfully shown by the work of your Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly gave up his life on the cross so that we may know the power of the resurrection of Your Son. 

God, we ask that those who come today may have the Spirit work in them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May they be faithful, even to the point of death, and receive from Christ the crown of life. For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, we thank You, Lord. We love You. And we know that You love us because of Your Son. It’s in his name that we pray, Amen. 

The Explanation 

Reader 1: Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17). 

The Word of the Lord. 
All: Thanks be to God. 

Reader 2: Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 
Reader 1: Jesus said to him, “I am the way…” 
Reader 2: “…and the Truth…” 
Reader 1: “…and the Life.” 
Reader 1 & 2: “No one comes to the Father except through me” 
Reader 1: The Word of the Lord. 
All: Thanks be to God. 

Reader 2: When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:12-14) 

The Word of the Lord. 
All: Thanks be to God. 

Leader: We come to the banks of this water to celebrate the act of baptism. Those who chose to follow the Lord’s example by being baptized are choosing to participate in the sacrifice of Jesus, who chose to give up his life for our sins. Three days later, he rose from the dead, defeating death and its powerful hold on all of humanity. The water reminds us of the grave in which Jesus’ body was placed and was found empty by Jesus’ disciples. Baptism is not an act to enter into lightly. Those who choose to be baptized are making a public statement that Jesus Christ is Lord and they hope to pursue him in all of their ways. They acknowledge their sinful ways and choose to renounce that lifestyle in pursuit of God’s holiness. 

Who comes today to follow Jesus’ example, joining him in the watery grave of baptism? 

Candidate(s): I do. 

The Candidate’s Story 

Leader: (Name) comes before all of you to publicly declare his/her desire to follow Christ and his example. (If the Candidate is comfortable sharing his/her testimony, including what has led the Candidate to this decision. This is the preferred way to share the Candidate’s story. If the Candidate is not comfortable speaking in public, the Leader may share the story of what has led the Candidate to come to be baptized.)

Analysis of the Candidate 

Leader: (Name), do you renounce Satan? 
Candidate: I renounce him. 
Leader: Do you renounce all his works? 
Candidate: I renounce them. 
Leader: Do you renounce his kindgom? 
Candidate: I renounce it. 
Leader: Why do you wish to be baptized? 
Candidate: In obedience of Christ. 

Confession of the Candidate 

Leader: (Name), who is Jesus? 
Candidate: I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. 
All: Amen. 
Leader: To Congregation: Based upon this confession, does anyone here see any reason to hinder (Name’s) baptism? 

Pause

To Candidate: Because of your Good Confession, there is no reason to hinder your baptism any longer. If there are multiple Candidates, each one will complete the Story, Analysis, and Confession, individually. Upon completion of the introduction of the Candidates, the service will continue. 

Song 

Congregation will sing a hymn/chorus that praises God for the new life He gives. 

Prayer 

Leader: Great are You, O Lord, and wondrous are Your works. No song will suffice to tell of Your wonders. You hung the stars in the sky and formed the planets a mere word spoken by Your mouth. By Your own hand, you formed humanity into Your own image. And because of Your love for us, You wrapped Yourself in humanity to save Your own creation. You hallowed the streams of the Jordan River, sending down Your Holy Spirit from the heavens. We ask that You make Your presence known in this water today as we celebrate the new life that only You can give. We ask that (Name[s]), who is about to follow Your example be transformed therein to the putting away of the old and putting on the new, and in so doing, will look forward to the day in which your son returns and becomes a sharer of the resurrection. It is only because of You that we are here and it is only You that we seek to honor. It is in Your son’s name, the name that is above any other name, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that we pray. Amen. 
All: Amen. 

Challenge to the Church 

Leader: Let us rejoice together in our baptism into Christ, recalling our own births in the living waters and committing ourselves anew through the death and resurrection of Christ to God’s covenant of life. Who do you, the church, believe Jesus is? 
All: We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. 
Leader: Do you commit to continue running the race? 
All: We do. 
Leader: Do you accept the challenge to continue discipling (Name[s]) as iron sharpens iron? 
All: We do. 
Leader: Do you commit to praying with him/her and for him/her all of the days of your life? 
All: We do. 
Leader: May the Lord, who has birthed us into new life, keep you safe and faithful until the end. 
All: Amen. 

Leader and Candidate(s) enter the water. 

Song 

Congregation will sing a hymn/chorus that praises God for the new life He gives 

Immersion of the Candidate 

Leader: (Name), because of your Good Confession and your desire to follow him all of your days, I now baptize you in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Leader immerses the Candidate. 

All: Amen. 

Clothing of newly Initiated 

Initiate leaves the water. An Assistant (preferrably an Elder) helps him/her to the bank and clothes him/her in a clean, white robe. 

Elder: (Name), you are now clothed with the garment of righteousness, in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is your armor, which will protect you from the flaming arrows the Evil One will hurl at you. May you continue to pursue the Father and His righteousness. 
Initiate: Amen. 
All: Amen. 

Anointing of newly Initiated

The Elder makes a sign of the cross on the Initiate’s forehead with oil 

Elder: Almighty God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has renewed you when you passed through the watery grave has given you forgiveness of your sins. The Holy Spirit Himself anoints you as a sign of your salvation. 
Initiate: Amen. 
Elder: You are part of the priesthood of all believers. Serve God and His church in all you do. 
Initiate: I will. 
Elder: You have been adopted into the King’s royal family. Pursue godly things, as your Father is holy 
Initiate: I will. 
All: Amen. 

Other Candidates will be baptized at this time and repeat the Clothing and Anointing individually. 

Leader comes up onto the bank. 

Reader 1: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4& 5) 
Reader 2: This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:6 & 7)
Reader 1: The Word of the Lord. 
All: Thanks be to God. 

Welcoming of the Newly Initiated into the Family of God 

Leader: Let us pray. 

Lord, as you have welcomed (Name[s]) into your royal family, may we welcome them as well. We celebrate with you as new members have been added to Your Body. We ask that You grant us unity of purpose and spirit as we continue serving You and pursuing Your holiness. We ask that you bless (Name[s]) as he/she/they grow in faith. 

We look forward to the day where we will share in the Great Banquet with Your Son as our holy Bridegroom. You promised Your people a land flowing with milk and honey, where peace shall reign and Your glory shall illuminate everything. Lord, we look forward to that day. While we wait, we ask that You make us one and reveal Yourself in amazing ways. We are Your people and You are our Lord. May You be glorified in all we do. Amen. 

All: Amen. 

Milk and bread with honey are distributed to the Initiates and the Congregation. 

Leader: We are family, but this world is not our home. This milk and honey are only a taste of the Great Banquet that is to come. Take, eat, drink, and anticipate the days to come. 

The congregation eats the bread with honey and drinks the milk. 

Leader: Peace be to all. 
All: And with your spirit. 
Leader: Go in peace to serve the Lord, shining the light of Christ.

Liturgy & Baptism

I’m writing a baptism liturgy (to be referred to as “Order of Worship” from now on in this post so my Evangelical friends don’t get too freaked out) for my church for Sacraments & Worship from a Historical Perspective (to be referred to as merely Sacraments & Worship from now on). It was one of three projects I could pick. Not only did it have the most room for creativity, but it also seemed like the easiest of the three options.

I might have been wrong.

It’s been more difficult than I thought to come up with a meaningful Order for a contemporary setting. It’s really made me think about what should be included in a baptism service and what is essential for a baptism service. How much of the historical practices (anointing with oil, eating salt, spitting on Satan, etc.) should be included in a postmodern context and still contain a powerful message in its symbolism? Maybe I’m thinking about it too much, but that’s kind of who I am – right? Since it’s worth 25% of our grade, I guess the point is that I’m supposed to be thinking about it a lot.

So, I ask this question to you, O Reader of MattDanTodd Land – if you were to plan an Order of Worship for a baptism service, what would you include? What wouldn’t you include?

Aly & Miss Paula


Aly & Miss Paula
Originally uploaded by mattdantodd.

Aly loves Miss Paula! Actually, she gets excited about all of the ladies in our Community Group, which is really cool to see.

After Paula came up out of the water, Alyson turned to Christy and said with a sense of awe in her voice, “Mom! I want to do that.”

Someday, Aly. Someday.

This is why…


Paula getting baptized
Originally uploaded by mattdantodd.

This is why we do what we do in ministry. This is why we’re even considering being part of a new church in Johnson City!

God is doing a new thing and it’s exciting!!!

Paula’s in our Community Group and has been considering baptism for well over a year. Needless to say, this is an exciting day. It’s a true celebration of new life.

Hopefully, this will be one of many more in the near future. I sense the floodgates are about to burst open. Get ready, Tri-Cities!

On a side note, Aiden took this picture. I’m so glad that he got to see a baptism up close like this. I’m sure it will be great for him in the long run.