Last weekend we were invited to a very special event in the life of the local church. Anytime a baptism takes place is holy and sacred, but I was looking forward to this one even more because it was to take place in nearby Caswell Bay!
I've never been to an outdoor baptism before, and I was curious about how it would work. Knowing that I would probably document for the blog anyway (busted!) the local pastor asked if Joel and I could document it for the church as well. So I took well over 100 photos and Joel took some videos! We started with the crowd gathered on the beach as close to the water as possible. The waves occasionally would creep up even closer causing the whole group to run back up the beach a few feet.
Pastor Andy read some words of liturgy to the group and introduced the three young people the service was for. One was getting baptized for the first time, and the other two were using this service to remember and renew their baptism. All three young people, Pastor Andy, and the lay person representing the church were dressed for the water - most of them wearing wet suits since it was rather cold!
After the liturgy the group of five was ready to brave their way into the water.
I wanted to document the experience for them as much as possible, so I took off my shoes, rolled up my leggings, and waded out into the water. It was so cold!
I couldn't get anywhere near as far out as they went, but I think I got some decent pictures nonetheless. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so they ended up as silhouettes against the sky.
Each youth was dipped under the water three times. I couldn't hear the exact words said but I recited the words of baptism I am used to in my head as I watched the ceremony.
Shortly, the group was walking back to the shore. The look on the faces of the three youth was incredible - they practically glowed! I could tell it had been a really meaningful time for them.
The tradition in this church is to give each person baptized a candle, as a symbol of the light of Christ. Bev read the liturgy for this portion when they were back on the beach.
Then everyone gathered around again and laid hands on the young people as Andy led us in prayer. The worship service closed with a hymn that everyone on the beach seemed to know but I was unfamiliar with. Then we all hiked back up the beach to our cars and headed to the church for another worship service!
The youth from the beach and several others were a part of the worship band, and helped to lead worship with Andy. Two of the youth who had been in the water shared their testimonies which was very moving. (I remember how hard it was to talk in church when I was a youth!). The music was wonderful and the energy in the church was really high! My favorite part was Andy and Emily's three year old dancing at the front of the church to almost every song.
After worship we all walked over to the church hall where dinner was waiting! I had spent the morning helping Emily and some other church members prepare dinner, so I was excited for the cottage pie, lasagna, and beef stew I knew was waiting. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and food to close out what was one amazing and spirit filled day.