June in Pennsylvania is such a glorious month.
The weather is usually on the sunny side, and the skies are blue in June. At least this is the way I recall most Junes. A light-filled and beautiful season, after a darker, colder winter, and soggy springtime. And this past Sunday was one of those glorious, special June days. It was a perfect day for a Living Word outdoor celebration of baptism.
Twenty-five people got in the water to make this beautiful, public profession of their faith by being baptized. And well over a hundred people had come along to join in the celebration. Here’s a little re-cap of the celebration.
This was the last outdoor baptism that would be held at the home and poolside of Barry and Lola Bloss. Barry and Lola are a part of the Living Word family and have blessed our church for more than a decade and a half by offering their pool and home for our outdoor baptisms. Their house has been on the market, and now has been purchased, so Sunday’s baptism marks the end of an era. Thank you, Barry and Lola for modeling hospitality and generosity over the years to your church family. We are grateful.
After some opening words from scripture about salvation and baptism (Romans 6 from The Message – see the text below) there was a prayer and then a song led by Living Word worship leaders Diana Kleinmanns and Chris Smith. They played and sang a memorable, beautiful, acoustic version of Hillsong United’s new song: Wonder.
Then we were blessed to hear twenty-five stories of salvation. Twenty-five stories of God’s grace poured out in Jesus Christ. Twenty-five stories of the Holy Spirit bringing heart change and life change to these men, women and children. Each story was short and unique. And each story showed wonderfully how God’s love met people right where they were at – in the messiness of life – with the beauty of Jesus. Each was a story of God bringing people to life and flourishing by the power of His Spirit.
Some of the testimonies were dramatic and breathtaking. Some were simple and straightforward. All displayed lives that have been rescued and redeemed by Jesus. Each person described a beautiful before and after. Each person told about who they were before crossing the line of faith and knowing Jesus, and then shared a few glimpses of who they are now becoming as a Christ-follower. There were tears of joy, moments of laughter, lots of applause, and tons of happy embraces.
As we heard the stories being spoken, I think everybody gathered together that day had their faith in Christ strengthened, refreshed, and deepened. Because each person being baptized was a living reminder, and a living word that expressed a solid commitment to the person of Jesus. And through the beautiful symbolism of water baptism, these people showed they are depending on the death and resurrection of Jesus for their personal, eternal hope.
Enjoy the terrific photographs of Sunday’s baptism (taken by our very own Leigh Grames), and this awesome video produced by Chris Perez (Living Word’s video production leader).
August—which is yet another beautiful month in Pennsylvania. We are ready to help you take this step and are excited to hear you share your story of new life in Christ!
Here’s the text from scripture that was read at Sunday’s baptism:
1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
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