Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:13-15:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
I don’t remember much about my baptism. I know that I was the second person that was baptized in the new baptismal pool at Harmony Baptist Church in Banks County, Georgia. And I remember that I was 12 years old at the time. What I remember most is what led up to my baptism. I never told my mother that I was considering joining the church but I had lots of questions for my Sunday school teacher, Ms. Faye Dalton.
Ms. Faye had taught me a lot about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. She taught all of us children that Jesus loved us and because of that we must love other people as well. This was not just a one time lesson but rather a point that she tried to instill in us every week. So when the time came to consider joining the church she was the one that I asked the tough questions.
Three days from now, I will perform my first baptism. I have been ordained for over three years now and in that time I have performed my first wedding, and two funeral services. I was honored to be able to officiate the wedding of my niece Brandi and her then finance Forrest. It was special because she was family and it is something that I will never forget.
The first funeral service was for a close friend of mine that I had worked with and known for almost 20 years. It was more difficult and more emotional than I had imagined it would be. The second funeral service was for a wonderful, Christian man, my father-in-law Rawdon Akins. This was a man that I had a tremendous amount of respect for because he truly lived a life that honored God. This service was one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do in my life. Rawdon always supported me and my decision to go into ministry and that is something that I will always remember and cherish.
This coming Sunday, I will perform my first baptism and it will be for my third daughter, Mallory, who is also 12. She and I are excited about this and what it means to be a follower of Christ. I am a little apprehensive because I know that this will also be an emotional experience for me, her father, as I baptize her.
Mallory and our entire family have been blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ at our church for the last ten years, Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, in Athens, Georgia. Mallory has had many teachers in our church that have taught her what it means to be a follower of Christ. Like my teacher, Ms. Faye, they have also lived out their faith and devotion to Christ as an example for Mallory to observe and to follow.
When Mallory was a baby she was very fussy in the nursery and she cried a lot. Many of the nursery workers and ushers would take turns walking her through the church and even outside, which usually did the trick. Many people in our church cared for her and as she grew up they taught her the stories of our faith. And so many more encouraged her and took time to listen to her and to talk with her. These disciples of Jesus helped her get to the point in her life where she is today.
Jesus gave us the example to follow when he was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. As followers of Christ, baptism is something that we take very seriously. It causes the entire faith community to offer up praise to God and what He is constantly doing in all of our lives. When someone in our family of faith is baptized we all rejoice because many in that family of faith have played a crucial role in that person’s life.
Mallory has given a lot of thought about what it means to be a follower of Christ and this is something that she has not entered into lightly. She is ready to follow Jesus and to be a disciple. As us older Christians know so well, this following Jesus is not always easy. If we choose the correct path we know that it will be a narrow road that is much less traveled. It will also be the only path that leads to eternal life with our Father in heaven. All praise, honor and glory belong to God.