It’s that time of year, and I love the Sunday when we recognize our high school and college graduates at church. I usually ask them to come to the front, and for their first post-graduation test, have them assemble themselves alphabetically by last names. They usually get that right after a few seconds. Then one after another, they share what their next step is: school, work, military service, marriage, or a combination of two or more! We give them a gift and pray for them as they begin the next part of God’s plan for their lives. This year seems to heavy on actors. One college grad will be a lead singer on a cruise ship in Italy, another a senior carpenter for a theater in Pennsylvania. One high school grad is headed… well, I’m not sure what she is doing next, but acting will be part of it, I can assure you. She is very talented. The fourth can tell you anything you want to know about the NHL, and is headed to college to be stretched into other areas of interest!
It’s also time for our first summer baptism. Though the scene above would be cool, it is merely a picture from Adobe’s stock, so we will have to settle for a cattle trough, filled with water, in the church parking lot. Not as idyllic, but perfect for a public baptism, nonetheless! By the way, I had to scroll through LOTS of pictures on Adobe’s site before I found one I could use. If you are looking for ‘baptism’ photos, you will find hundreds of pictures of infants in fancy clothes, held by priests or bishops or vicars, being sprinkled on the head with (holy?) water. Well, the water in our cattle trough comes from the city lake, and the seven being baptized this Sunday will be immersed. More importantly, they will be making a public declaration of the faith they already have in Jesus Christ.
Speaking of public declarations, consider Mary Magdalene for a moment. One of the young men in our home group, Josh, was teaching this past week from Luke 8. You read there that Mary Magdalene was delivered of seven demons by Jesus. She became a contributor to Jesus’ ministry, and was later mentioned as one who was at His crucifixion, and as one who came to His tomb to anoint His body on that great resurrection Sunday. Josh said as he taught, “You know, Jesus healed and delivered a lot of people, but Mary Magdalene was always there after that. She followed Jesus as a true disciple.” The thought occurred to me, what would it have looked like if every single person Jesus healed or delivered had shown up at the cross to show their gratitude and their love? And…why DIDN’T they? But then, the same could be said today, couldn’t it? Where are the millions who have been forgiven by Jesus, delivered from sin’s penalty, set free to love and serve Him and the body of Christ, and to tell others that they too can know the sweet power of forgiveness? Why are so many following anything and anyone but the One who called them to take up their cross and follow Him?