We do immersion baptism, which means that the person getting baptized takes off their church clothes, puts on a bathing suite and a white robe. And then wades in the water until after confessing their faith, I gently push them under the water and assist them in rising back up out, all in the name of the triune God.
It is a highly symbolic ceremony. It begins with a verbal confession. "I choose to follow Jesus." Then comes the physicality. Entering into the water in a plain white robe. Nothing flashy or unique. And then the movement under the water and back out, reminding us that we are called to die to our selves and rise a new in Christ.
I have never baptized someone in winter before.
I had thought about my own wardrobe, knowing that my wet legs wouldn't easily go into tights so I chose pants to wear. (Some pastors wear fishing waders but I like feeling the water along with the person getting baptized.)
The heat in our building wasn't up to snuff this morning. It gets cold in the desert in the winter and to say it was chilli in the room outside of the baptistry is an understatement.
I willed myself out of my warm clothes and put on my swim suite and a plain white robe.
And then waited. The service began and the organ pipes that are housed on the other side of the wall where I was vibrated through the room.
Eventually it was our turn. We entered into the cold water and it was uncomfortable.
It is hours later and I have yet to really warm up. My toes are still chilled and I thought about how at times we like to tell God "I'll go so far, but you need to make it comfortable for me."
Maybe not in those exact words but that is what we mean.
There is great risk involved in taking on the name of Christ. It marks the beginning of a life long journey of discipline and prayer.
It began today for one of our newest members in the chilly waters. It wasn't comfortable. But the chill reminded me that my comfort isn't a priority in following Christ.