Backyard Baptisms | Reflections by Becca Pryor '17

“I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…”

Breathe in, close eyes, go under, come up, breathe out, open eyes, smile.

“…Amen!”

Underneath the mid-July sun, I found myself standing in the backyard of my host-family’s home in Richmond, looking upon the baptisms of 20 new brothers and sisters in Christ.  It was incredible how such a powerful and beautiful commitment could happen in the swimming pool that I passed by every single morning on my way to work as an intern for a local church.

Cheers, tears, and the applause of family members and friends echoed through the neighborhood after each person emerged from the water.  I looked up at my friend and fellow intern, Katie, and smiled at her through the tears that ran down my face.  Once we locked eyes we both started laughing amidst our tears; our hearts were exploding with joy and we took comfort in the other’s similar emotional response to what was happening in front of us.  

As I stood next to the pool I gazed upon the individuals getting baptized with eyes full of wonder and a heart full of love.  Children in elementary school and adults with decades of stories to be told walked into the water one by one, each ready to be fully submerged and commit their lives to Christ.

The group of individuals newly baptized gathered together on the steps of the pool once it was all over and I couldn’t help but feel overcome with a sense of connectedness toward each of them.  In that moment I felt the joy that radiated out of their hearts and saw God in each of them; the reflection of His image in them shined brightly that afternoon.  From the youngest boy to the oldest woman, God crafted each one of them carefully and thoughtfully in a way that magnificently mirrors who He is.  I looked upon the group and saw them as my siblings, as fellow human beings adopted into son-ship and daughter-ship by Jesus Christ, our Savior.  The bear-hugs and celebrating that took place once they came out can most accurately be described as familial and I mean that in the most whole and perfect sense of the word.

After most everyone headed home, all of us college-aged interns jumped into the pool and played water basketball, laughing alongside one another.  One of the interns amongst us was baptized just 30 minutes prior to the horseplay; how sweet an image it was to see her to freely play and celebrate in the water in which she had just made an eternal commitment to Christ.  The water used to welcome her into the family of Christ was also a space of freedom and joy, a space to share with others in community and laughter.

This past Sunday, I returned to Richmond to attend a second round of baptisms.  The same overwhelming sensations filled my heart; what an absolute honor it was to witness and celebrate new commitments to Christ yet again!  That morning, before baptisms, the pastor preached about the beauty that comes with being more God-aware and less self-aware.  The freedom that comes from focusing on a vision and purpose greater than us as individuals allows a ruthless trust in God to manifest itself in how we live out our lives and love one another.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to run fast next to one another in the path that God has laid out before us. 

The freedom that was experienced in the fun of playing in the pool that mid-July afternoon reflects the freedom and joy that comes along with aligning our hearts and minds towards God in a posture of worship, commitment, and love.  I am eternally thankful that God crossed my path with those whom I met this summer and am even more excited to spend an eternity with them in heaven.     

-Becca is a 4th year Horizons Fellow as well as Theological Horizons' Development Intern