Welcome back everyone (not really sure why I start these like a lecture, but it’s my blog so I can do what I want.) This will probably be a short one. To quote Journey, I’m gonna try to keep it ‘sweet and simple’–well, I can’t really say if it’ll be sweet, but it will definitely be simple.
On May 1st, 2016 I was baptized at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. For those of you who are new to the idea of baptism, allow me to give you a little context:
Baptism is an outward demonstration of the grace of God at work in a person. It involves either total submersion in water or a little sprinkling of water on the forehead (depending on the church)
In the Presbyterian church (see “St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church”), it’s mostly babies that are baptized, showing an understanding that God is already working in their lives, and it will be Him alone that saves them.
I was of course, not a baby
But that’s okay too
When I was baptised, it felt like when a child gets adopted into a new family. I’d already accepted Christ as my saviour, but this made the connection between me and all the other members of the church seem more vivid and powerful.
It was also a reminder of transformation. Before Christ I was like a caterpillar: limited to only what I can do (which, spoilers, isn’t a lot), unknowing of what was really out there and who God really was. Once I accepted Christ into my world, I felt like a butterfly, finally free from all the weights that held me down. I was free because Jesus died on the cross and forgave all my sins, and I really understood the passage from 2 Corinthians that says, “the old life has gone; a new life has begun.” Even though Pastor Duncan had only sprinkled water on my forehead, I remembered the feeling of breaking the surface of my past life, Christ pulling me into the sun.
After the baptism I was given a bible with the verse Joshua 1:9 emblazoned on the front. This has since become my favourite verse, and really speaks to what I learned through my transition to Christianity.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I’d like to backpedal for a second though and talk a little bit more about the feeling of being adopted. Really, this idea of being brought into a family is what led me to be baptised at St. Andrew’s. I chose to get baptized here because it felt like a true family of God. I felt God’s presence and love in this church particularly through the people. They welcomed me in with open arms–a lone Sri Lankan boy amidst a sea of blue hair. God’s presence and love was shown through each one of these people. Every time I walk into church I felt the presence of God, and it’s not because of the stained glass. It’s the people who make the church, with every hug and handshake, every kind word and congratulation.
About a year later, I had the opportunity to have a full-submersion baptism in the Dominican Republic on my second missions’ trip there. Not many can say they got baptised two times, and for me, it was a chance to not only reaffirm my faith, but also to experience the symbol with other founding members of my church family. Sarah and Calvin, two of my leaders who have been instrumental in my faith development, dunked me in Pedernales, surrounded by a crowd of friends who had walked alongside me in my journey, and beside my good friend Michael, who was also taking the plunge.
Baptism means a lot of things, but I think to me, the most important part is that you are publicly telling people that Jesus has brought you into His kingdom. It’s a unification with the people around you, but also a personal, public identification with Jesus Christ. It’s crazy that a little bit of water can say all that, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the story. It’s a story that’s bigger than me, bigger than us, and certainly bigger than any symbol we can use to describe it, and yet, Jesus personally, publicly asked me to come with Him. The least I can do is say yes as loud as I can.
Talk to you in the next one and remember to always stay grateful.