Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tahoe Baptism

"As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (Acts 8:36)

As we walked down the wooden stairs to the sand of a boulder-strewn beach at Lake Tahoe it occurred to me that this was the way baptisms would've been done in the early years of the Christian Church. "They came to some water..." writes Dr. Luke in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian official. Today this passage again came to reality as Phyllis and Roy were taking this important step in their spiritual lives--the former to be baptized for the first time and the later to recommit his life to Christ.

As we waded out into the cool waters of the lake I saw about 100 people who would be the
impromptu witnesses to this important day. About 30 yards from the shore the water was about waist deep and just right to fulfill the example of Jesus, "baptism--the immersion." No sprinkling here at Lake Tahoe. Down into what the old evangelists called "the watery grave" went our two disciples. Each rose with a quick inhalation of breath from the cold water on their faces. It was as if each was coming to life again.

My wife Jennifer later recounted to
us a conversation between several onlookers as I raised my hand for the blessing and then submerged each candidate into the water. "Hey look, that's a baptism going on out there. I was baptized as a Christian." And then a beat later added, "I'm not practicing it right now, though." (Reflecting later I considered that if possessed of more of the boldness of Peter or Philip I would've leaped onto the boulders and made a call for baptism to the beach crowd.)

Coming out of the water I wasn't a bit chilly. The warmth of that moment drove away any thought of wind or wave. What happiness came in baptizing two fine people on this sunny day at Lake Tahoe. The Sabbath is a day celebrating the Creator of all life. And today we also lived Paul's promise in 2 Corinthians 5:17--"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Lesson of Oshkosh

I look behind me to see 35,000 young people singing, praying, clapping, worshipping.

My eyes turn back to a stage that brought the story of Esther to life every night. Holding the rapt attention of Pathfinders from around the world.

Next to me sits a young man from Mexico who, with sparkling joy on his face, explains how
wonderful it is to sit on a camp chair in the middle of an airfield in Oshkosh, WI with Seventh-day Adventists his own age who are excited about Jesus.

My heart stirs with admiration and pride as thousands upon thousands of young Adventists march in parade formation past Jennifer and me. The sounds of the drums may drown out all other sounds but the smiles on the faces of children from every point of the North American compass speak volumes.

Pathfinder honors earned. Club pins exchanged. Community service projects engaged in. Wal-Mart running out of bottled water by Friday night. Camporee is like nothing else I've ever been to--including several General Conference sessions.

I leave the campground after several days feeling light, encouraged, and inspired.

The youth of our church are indeed ready and able to lead the mission of this church. These 35,000 Pathfinders--
along with their dedicated volunteer directors, counselors, and supporters--taught me this lesson in Oshkosh, WI.