Yesterday we had our church service outside at South Shore Park, did baptisms in Lake Michigan, and had a picnic afterwards.
What a day! Check out the stories on the Veritas site. They are amazing! And they are amazing because of what God has done!
I love baptism services! I love hearing the stories of God at work in people's lives. I just NEVER get tired of it! When you sit down and listen to people tell the story of their life and hear how God has been weaved in and out of all the different times in their life it's amazing. And I love it because no one can argue with your story. People can tune out "preachers" and say they don't believe in the Bible. But no one can tell you your story isn't true. It's YOUR story!
Baptisms can remind us to take time to reflect on God in our own life. It can be so easy to live on feelings. "God, I don't FEEL like you're here right now. I don't FEEL you." Feelings are fickle and feelings are fleeting. We can't rely only on our feelings. Sometimes we do feel SO close to God. Sometimes we feel like we are walking hand in hand with Him. But sometimes we don't.
It's amazing to look back on the events of our lives. Sometimes we need a lot of time of separation to be able to have perspective. But when we look back we get to see God's hand in our life in events. We can see our good choices and our bad choices and how God guided us and loved us and challenged us through all of them. It's hard to see God work sometimes. But often when we look back on events or phases in our life we can see how we have grown and what we've learned! We can see how we have changed because of what God has taught us.
And, finally, I LOVE doing baptisms outside! I am not trying to say that doing them inside a church is wrong or downplay anyone's baptism experience or practice, but i have always felt very strongly about doing baptisms outside, in the open, for all to see! In the Bible they would often do baptisms in the river and in lakes outside. This was the source of water for everyone (to do washing, animals drank there, etc). There was a lot of life going on right where people were declaring their decision to follow God with their life in front of everyone around. I think that makes more of an impact on those being baptized and on those around the baptism. It really is a PUBLIC DECLARATION of your commitment to God.
We did our baptisms in Lake Michigan right on the beach at South Shore Park. There were a lot of people sitting in the park near us as we sang our worship songs in the park and then trekked down to the lake to do our baptisms. It was an amazing experience! I can't wait to do it again!