I’d like to tell you the story of last Sunday night but first I think it would be good to introduce you to the cast of characters, at least the main players in the drama. They were: Amy, a seventeen year old girl was being baptized, her grandmother who had given birth to seven children and had given them all up to foster care, two of Amy’s aunts, her dad, A. and J. (two quite simple people with simple faith to match), Byran (who has been away the past several months at University in St. John’s) and his mom and dad who came to lead worship, and me.
It was a glorious, very high energy event. The air fairly crackled with electricity as a much larger than usual crowd gathered for our Up Town Worship Night. Several guys had helped me borrow a baptismal tank from the local Vineyard Church. It was filled with less than lukewarm water. Amy was bouncing with excitement and a bit of fear, full of questions about the process but eager to experience this ancient rite. She had invited many friends and family. Byran and his family heard about the occasion and asked if they might come and lead worship. Byran had been away at Memorial on a music program. Byran is a gentle gentle young man. He loves the folks of Up Town and we have come to love him. This night, perhaps because we hadn’t seen one another much, that love was palpable. There was an anointing on his leadership that night and we were quickly ‘caught up’ in the presence of God. The worship sparked an extraordinary (even for us) sharing time which was at once full of praise and brokenness. I usually teach at the end of the service but I did so at this point that night. I shared from Romans chapter six about being baptized into the death of Jesus. I was very low on energy after a couple of tough weeks and a very busy day but as I began to share about identifying with Christ in His death resulting in an identification with Him in His resurrection, I felt an energy charge me which I know was the Holy Spirit of God. Following this message we all proceeded from the main room to the entrance way of the Hall. I had set up the tank there to facilitate draining it afterwards (which can be a long process). The movement and jostling of everyone to find place in this new location heightened the sense of excitement. The baptism itself was quite simple. I have even learned how to do it so I don’t get too wet. The cheers and applause was stirring as Amy rose from the water. We presented her with a new (to her) Bible and she went off to change. We made our way back to our usual places and began our time of prayer. During this Amy’s grandmother stood, glowing with joy, and thanked God that He was restoring her family all these years after her mistakes and the circumstances which led to her giving them up. We were all so delighted but none more so than Amy. It was a great gift to her. Byran sang a song to her about how Jesus loves Amy. We sang Oh Happy Day and then partied for a while. A couple of ladies asked me about baptism and it looks like we might be repeating the process soon.
I am writing this from our Threshold Ministries National Gathering in Jackson’s Point Ontario. I arrived on Tuesday feeling like an absolute wreck. I dreaded people asking me “How are you?” because I knew I’d just choke up and embarrass myself. Of course this is just what happened time and time again as I met my friends and colleagues, but I have been met with such compassion! I leave here today feeling only half a wreck. In my deepest pity party I felt myself in fellowship with Job, sitting in the ashes; but I am coming to believe that sitting in the ashes is a great place to dream and hope , for any course is a possible course. One of my favourite singers, Wynnona, sings “Rock bottom is good solid ground.” I have hope.