Yesterday we had a terrific day at Chain of Lakes as we celebrated the baptism of Devin & Taylor Vosdingh. Their family has been part of our faith community practically since we started. I talked about baptism during the sermon. Towards the end of the sermon I spent some time sharing why we don’t re-baptize. I would love to see the church unite around the idea of Reaffirming a person’s baptism—and not celebrating a Re-baptism. The following is an edited version of the sermon I shared. The sermon can be viewed at: http://vimeo.com/97064084
One practice we don’t do at Chain of Lakes is re-baptize. Let me take some time to explain why we don’t re-baptize.
It wouldn’t surprise me if many of us are aware of huge lake “baptisms” that some churches do. These churches are our brothers and sisters in faith. They are part of our family called the church. These churches ask people to be baptized before they become a member of their congregation. The ritual is powerful. I’ve watched videos of them. They are defining moments in a person’s life where that person celebrates their relationship to God. Often they will raise their hands after coming out of the water in victory and give a high five to anyone who is near.
I think that this is so exciting. It is so cool to see and hear of a person who has a deep and moving experience of God. I love watching these videos. They are powerful. Yay, God!
If the person hasn’t been baptized, I think this is a terrific way to celebrate a baptism. If a person has been baptized I’m asking my brothers and sisters in faith not to call this a baptism.
We don’t need to be re-baptized. Once is enough. Grace was sealed into Devin & Taylor today. They don’t need to have grace sealed into them again. It’s already there. They will always carry it with them.
When a church re-baptizes it leads me to wonder what the church is saying about God. Didn’t God do a good enough job the first time? Does God need a re-do? Was God asleep at the wheel.
I would love to go to Sunrise Lake—that is the lake near Lakeside Common park and perform a ritual where we re-commit ourselves to God. I would love to take video and put music behind it and give a hi five to whoever wants to receive it. But I wouldn’t call that a baptism. We would say that we are Re-affirming or Renewing our baptism.
Maybe you’re saying, “Paul you’re wordsmithing a lot here. Does it make a difference between saying I’m being re-baptized or reaffirming my baptism. Yes it does.
Let me give one more example of the difference
Three summers ago my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a terrific day. We invited many of their friends and we had the celebration at our home church in Worthington. We had people share memories of their wedding day and we ate cake. It was a beautiful celebration.
My parents didn’t actually re-affirm their vows that day. But let’s imagine that they did. What would have happened if they had come to my sister or me and said they wanted to get married. They wanted to do vows, and have my sister or me sign the marriage certificate and send it to the courthouse.
We would say, that’s silly. You can’t be married again. You’ve already been married. Once you’re married you don’t need to be re-married. We can celebrate your vows, but you don’t need to take your vows again.
Exactly! Once you’ve been baptized you don’t’ need to be baptized again. It’s already done. Just like a couple who is married isn’t re-married a person who has been baptized doesn’t need to be re-baptized.
Perhaps we could unite around the idea of re-affirming our baptism.
Not everyone agrees with me on this. There might be some folks here at Chain of Lakes who don’t agree with me. One of our Core Values is healthy disagreement. If you believe in re-baptism, there is a place for you at Chain of Lakes. If you do believe in re-baptism I want you to think about the question, “why do we have to do it again?” Didn’t God do a good enough job the first time?
I would love if the church could unite around the idea of Re-affirming our baptism or Renewing our baptism instead of Re-baptizing. Could we do it?