Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Beautifully Unexpected

When our Fellows begin their year of community, ministry and learning, they are expecting new things. But some things are really unexpected. 

As the Fellows were led by Ford Jordan in a discussion on the sacraments of the Church, Alex Howerton began to wonder if she'd ever been baptized. She double-checked and realized it wasn't entirely certain that she had.

So, since she lives with the Bolashes, Alex struck up a conversation with me, and we agreed that being baptized during this year with Ashley and the other Fellows would be beautiful and meaningful. It would be a reminder of what baptism always teaches us as Christians: That the Lord loves us, has called us by name and has made us his own in Christ when we believe.

So last Monday, we piled into cars and travelled up to the small beach at Beaver Dam Park on Falls Lake. There were only a few people on the beach in the middle of the day on a Monday. 

A park ranger walked past us and asked, "Are you guys going swimming?"

Hoping this wouldn't be somehow against park rules, I said, "No, we're just having a baptism." 

He smiled and raised his eyebrows, but just said, "Oh, okay!"

So we proceeded. 

First, standing barefoot in the sand, we read from the Scriptures, including: 

"But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine." 
Isaiah 43:1

Then the question for Alex: "Alex, do you desire to be baptized?"
Alex: "I do."
"Have you accepted Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord?"
Alex: "I have."

And so on. She affirmed her desire to continue in Christ. We affirmed our desire to help her, representing the Church.

Then, finally, after Ashley and the Fellows had spoken words of affirmation to Alex, she and I waded into the 60-degree lake. A little brisk! And as she went down into the water and resurfaced, she heard the truth that she has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever. 

You can see Alex emerging from the lake in the photo, water cascading from her head and face. She believed years ago. But this was a chance for she and all of us to see outwardly the unseen, inward work of washing and new creation that God has been doing in her life. 

He has been good to her. ​In all kinds of ways, many of them beautifully unexpected.

~ Eric Bolash